Do you know that anxious feeling that grips you when you have just set off on a trip? That implicit conviction of “I’ve forgotten something, but I don’t know what” that then turns into realization of the “Give this to Kevin – Kevin’s not here – KEVIN!” type (see film “Home Alone”).
But actually, there really is something that you are leaving behind, knowingly or unknowingly, when you set off on a trip: it is Big Data, or rather, an incredible amount of large data generated by yourselves. Alexander Jaimes, researcher for Yahoo Research, was right when he said, “We are the data”. With the advent of the Internet, tourists are becoming increasingly “social” and “digital”.
The statistics shared by the “Google – The 2013 Traveler, Eurobarometer” report speak clearly: 91% of respondents use search engines as their main source when looking for or planning a holiday (and half of them use a mobile device). Internet therefore covers a fundamental role in the phases of:
- inspiration: 61% find out more on the Internet
- planning: 80% use the web
- fruition: 58% use online sources to assess activities and services, while 40% create new content and share it
After all, digital tracks (searches, purchases, reviews) that you leave as you browse, such as a “like” for a given page on social media, the reviews written after your stay, the content read, and the advertisements that you have paid attention to for more than 10 seconds, etc., are a valuable source of information to be re-processed: they represent the starting point for getting to know you as consumers and understanding your tastes, needs and expectations.
But how do I process millions of data?
To “extract” value from these raw data, technology’s support is required: only AI algorithms are able to process so many variables so quickly and interpret them in real time. The advent of paradigms such as cloud computing, with unlimited computational resources and inexpensive storage capacities, has finally put these analytical capacities within everyone’s reach. But, they conceal business opportunities. Just think about companies like Amazon that, just by drawing on these data, increase their turnover by 30%: we are talking about those sales proposals that are automatically generated by the system with the words “you may be interested in”.
So, why not take advantage of Artificial Intelligence in the tourism industry? Actually, there are already some very encouraging premises. Airlines such as British Airways have been pioneers in this field and, over the last few years, the interest of large OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) is being reawakened. The future of travel is in Big Data and AI. KPMG’s “Customer Experience Excellence” report also confirms this. Hilton, the well-known hotel chain, is in fourth place with its CEE (Customer Experience Excellence) Score in Italy. This is because it has been able to straddle this “disruption”, having a significant impact on customer expectations, which are more than satisfied and even anticipated.
But, what are the aspects of tourism that Big Data and AI could have a bearing on? We are told by the Laboratorio per il Turismo Digitale (TDLAB – Digital Tourism Laboratory), a 2014 initiative by the former MIBACT with the task of defining and encouraging the implementation of the digital strategy for Italian tourism.
It starts out from transparency itself: often the “official” reports on tourist flows arrive many months later. But, in this way, it is possible to have timely analyses to track the cause-effect relationships and the traveler’s movements and perceptions, to adjust the “aim” for more targeted and effective campaigns.
These data, extracted by the semantic technologies put in place by AI, can be used both to refine buyer personas, with the creation of customer and potential customer profiles updated in real time, and to better manage customer service, with the continuous improvement of the service offered, anticipating expectations even before the consumer expresses them. The key word is personalization and, with the support of technology that draws on this dataset, it becomes ever easier to automatically adapt custom services to the segment or individual.
Get First-Party Data with Content Intelligence
There is a small problem on the horizon. The data on tourists belong to large foreign platforms (Booking, eDreams, etc.). How can the hotel, organization or tourist company that pays a commission on such platforms collect as many prompts as possible from the digital tracks left by potential customers? There is a secret and it lies in obtaining first-party data on your owned media through content marketing. By using quality content, it is in fact possible to engage and obtain users with the ultimate goal of encouraging them to respond to specific Calls to Action (the reservation or purchase of a service).
But what does quality content mean? It means that it must be in line with the interests of the reference audience. Being engaged in an interesting experience thanks to photos, infographics, informative videos, surveys, newsletters and much more, the audience reaches a point of deeper interaction with the brand that offered it, making it their first choice. By using Content Intelligence (CI), or rather, AI applied to content, your own content marketing strategies can be optimized and this is because CI measures the performances of assets.
Let’s take the example of THRON, the Intelligent DAM, the SaaS cloud enterprise. Indeed, its AI engines measure the value of a piece of content based on the use that its users make of it. In this way, they understand which topics “work” best (to put it briefly, they extract customer interests) and are, therefore, more suitable propositions for each person. At this point, it becomes ever easier to offer a customer experience that is “calibrated” for the specific individual or segment and, therefore, to increase engagement and conversions in an exponential way.
A travel agency that integrates THRON into its systems, which, amongst other things, easily adapts to existing solutions, would be able to measure content performances on various digital touchpoints and obtain, thanks to CI, data in real time on user interests (preferences for sea/mountain/lake, home/abroad, type of accommodation, family/business trip, dog-friendly, etc.): this information, together with the customer history present in the CRM system, can be used to create packages of unique and personalized offers. All this while keeping up with the user who may change their mind several times over!
It is in this direction that Lastminute.com is heading, a brand in the travel industry that brings together a group of brands such as Lastminute.com, Bravofly, Rumbo, Volagratis and Jetcost. To date, it has unified the content of six brands in a single platform, which is that offered by THRON’s DAM. From here, it feeds its channels through integrated delivery. But it’s not to say that in the future it won’t also use Content Intelligence to collect data on user interests from the content published on various channels, in order to offer increasingly personalized customer experiences. And, in this case, we will certainly witness a boom in conversions (and revenue).