Booking a holiday online should be fun. However, it often becomes a chore when a site offers a complicated interface with disorganised drop down menus, multiple pages and the same questions asked to everyone.

Travel companies can – and should - use customer data to make predictions and create an engaging, personalised experience that both eases and enhances the booking process.
 
Retail strategy
First, make sure you understand personalisation is not about configuring parts of your website, but about having the right retail strategy in place - one that is founded in a deep understanding of your customer. As a retailer, you will already understand the importance of knowing your customers better than they know themselves.  
 
Customers typically don’t like to share data so incentivise it by, for example, offering a discount on the first booking after they create an account and user name. You can then use the data provided at registration to create subsequent tailored offers and promote particular destinations.
 
Predict on past behaviour
As consumers, we are used to static websites that have a 'one size fits all' approach. However game changers like Amazon and easyJet, plus native advertisers, mean that consumers are fast becoming accustomed to active suggestions following previous behaviour. Users are becoming desensitised and starting to expect a curated and personalised experience. But as personalisation is a huge topic, start off small - test and learn is the mantra. For example, for returning website visitors, display a “Welcome back” message and perhaps a special offer based on that customer’s browsing history on your site.
 
Do the legwork for the customer
Specifically in travel, not only does personalisation offer huge potential in terms of developing a better understanding of your customers’ behaviour, but also for generating increased warmth for your brand. Ultimately, you will recoup increased revenue through tactics such as highlighting relevant and tailored offers, to reducing clicks to purchase, for example by pre-populating booking fields based on information the customer has already provided.   

Look at data from your completed bookings and track the path leading to the purchase. Then identify points on the path for your current visitors for intervention with special offers or guidance to another part of the site to encourage them to follow the same path as your converted visitors.
 
Use data to tailor offers
We are noticing a lot of conversation around search becoming less dominant, as consumers start to receive and use intelligently tailored offers and suggestions to destinations they're interested in. As a travel company, you can tailor offers based on a variety of customer data, e.g. their geographical location, the search term that brought them to your website, how frequently they visit the website or their referral source such as Google, Facebook or LinkedIn.
 
Automated predictions and tailoring of content and offers are effective on their own but a great back-up for real-time interaction with a real agent is a chat bar. This website feature promotes good old-fashioned conversation, giving your visitors the opportunity to ask questions and your sales agents the opportunity to turn objections into opportunities.
 
Convert and convert again
Once you’ve converted a visitor into a purchaser, take it to the next level: convert them again into an advocate. Have social sharing buttons at the point of booking completion with sample text so customers can share the great deal they got through you with their own networks and be your newest brand champion.
 
The ultimate goal for website personalisation is to take a visitor on a journey not only to the point of purchase but to provide an experience along the way that will not only want to make them return but to tell others to take the same journey.
 
 

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