When it is finally safe to resume frequent travel, data and personalisation are key to unlocking travellers’ ‘second wallet’.

New research on the travel sector has found that 50% of airline passengers globally report that they spend more time than they want to using digital channels to plan and book flights. Similarly, 45% of hotel guests report that they spend too much time planning and booking a hotel stay.

Of the global travellers surveyed, 70% reported that they would like to receive personalised offers from travel sellers and 75% report they are comfortable sharing personal data if it will help them save money or have better journeys. Despite this, just 20% say they receive offers that reflect their interests, travel patterns or life circumstance. This is despite the travel sector being one of the pioneering e-commerce sectors and one of the largest digital commerce sectors globally.

The research was undertaken in 2019 by Atmosphere Research Group, a San Francisco, California-based travel industry market research firm, and used in a new thought-leadership report that sets out the need for airlines and hotels to enter the era of ‘complete retailing’ to distinguish their brands from their competitors. This makes their digital channels more compelling and strengthens their customer experience if they want to become the ‘Amazon’s of travel’.

The report ‘Maximizing Revenue across the Traveler’s Journey’ was commissioned by Ireland’s trade and innovation agency, Enterprise Ireland, a significant seed investor in travel tech companies. Having created industries like aircraft leasing and duty-free shopping, Enterprise Ireland’s concentrated and collaborative ecosystem comprises over 100 travel tech companies, spanning global giants to rapidly-scaling niche players.

The report finds that airlines, hotels and travel sellers are increasingly looking to Irish travel tech companies to build out their ancillary product strategies and boost profits. The report’s author, Henry Harteveldt, said: “The travel technology world is thriving, but poor digital experiences weaken the joy of travel and weaken the potential profitability of travel retailers. Entering the era of complete retailing is the next frontier for travel retailers, where they are dynamically creating and selling relevant, personalized, appealing offers to travelers. Cloud and machine learning technologies that deliver data driven responsive technologies will be core to this.”

It boils down to personalization

Groundbreaking travel tech companies are already delivering new generations of nimble and responsive technologies that are helping travel sellers to maximise sales opportunities spanning every travelers’ journey and enter the era of complete retailing, added Henry Harteveldt.

CarTrawler, for example, provides the technology for airlines to offer car rental, private airport transfers and on-demand ride hailing services at more than 50,000 locations in 174 countries. Working with more than 100 airlines, CarTrawler expands the airline’s offering to their customers, creating substantial ancillary revenues. They use data effectively to tailor offers to increase the potential of a traveler making a purchase. In CarTrawler’s first year of working with SWISS and Vueling, each airline saw its car rental conversion increase by 151% and 298%, respectively.

Boxever, the data and personalization firm working with major airlines around the world, has been one of the pioneers in harnessing the strengths of data, AI and machine learning to help airlines such as Emirates, Ryanair and Volaris to use their data better and offer smart effective personalisation to improve conversion rates and average order value.

Hostelworld helps hostels worldwide that especially cater for Millennial and Generation Z guests to offer a compete retailing solution with their property management system software. As well as managing occupancy, the software is configured to sell ancillary services online, helping hostels to improve guest experience, reduce operating costs and drive ancillary sales. Said Maire P. Walsh, SVP Digital Technologies, Enterprise Ireland USA: “The travel industry’s demand for market-proven innovative solutions that supports the complete retailing agenda is high and are increasingly looking to Ireland’s strong cluster of travel technology companies for the solutions. Reflecting this demand, Enterprise Ireland’s portfolio of travel tech companies had combined international sales of close to €0.5bn in 2018.”