Personalisation – driving the delivery of service in the travel sector

Holger Taubmann

Senior VP Distribution, Amadeus IT Group

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In the 21st century travel landscape, travellers’ needs are diversifying: they want unique experiences, tailored to their own priorities, and they want to take control of their own itineraries. But with the limitless options in the travel industry, how can providers stand out? Upselling, offering extra services, and knowing your customers are the keys.

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In many cases today customers differentiate between providers based mainly on price and this can be particularly true forairlines. However, differentiation can also be achieved viapersonalisation: offering specific products and services based on the travellers’ individual preferences. By doing so, providers can exceed customers’ expectations and secure loyalty while increasing revenue. Personalisation has the potential to move the focus from price to value.

What consumers specifically seek

One of the most interesting concepts, which I believe we will see far more of in the future, is the ability to combine the customer insights gained by personalising with the ability to clearly display and differentiate the offer. This would move the travel industry forward as offers would be based on what individuals want and the value would become clearly identifiable.

We are already working on helping our travel provider customers to generate consumer reviews, for instance, because it is paramount for them to receive travellers’ feedback in order to tailor their offer but also to differentiate their service proposition, moving away from price as the primary factor. Similarly, the rather straightforward concept of sending airline passengers an SMS with three very quick questions about their experience is an example of how airlines can gather the feedback they need to continue innovating.

Today, we are already seeing good examples of personalisation in business travel, where Duty of care (i.e. companies taking more responsibility for what happens to their employees) is gaining ground. The expectation is to see employees be rescued in certain situations; people may need to get out of certain places within the minute due to situations of civil unrest or natural catastrophes. There is a growing role in helping TMCs personalise their offer to companies that need to know at any given point in time where their employee is, so that they can service that person if he or she gets stuck. TMCs are also beginning to consider functions similar to the ‘Mayday’ facility in new Amazon tablets, which would offer business travellers a direct link to their travel management consultant, when they need it.

Even more personalisation

Ancillary services are also playing a large role inpersonalisingthe airline offer. Ancillaries generate tens of billions of dollars annually, and in a recent survey conducted by ICM Research on behalf of Amadeus, almost two thirds of the travellers surveyed said ancillary services such as extra legroom, dietary requests and extra luggage are important to them. If it is something customers want, it is something they will pay for.

In my view, there are 3 key areas related topersonalisationthat will take off in the near future. The first one is helping providers and subscribers push certain offers and services to their clients. We can help airlines, for example, identify a traveller rapidly, so that he or she can be better served. Secondly, we will need to always be thinking intelligently about how to connect the dots in travel, from the moment the traveller leaves home to the moment he is back. And we will need to ensure that our customers benefit from that: how do we enable an airport to know which clients are arriving? How to help them make payments more efficiently? How to best make use of the contextual information mobile affords us? Lastly, Search will be king –as will be the ability to combine and package all this information to deliver the most relevant, useful and tailored travel offer. During the search process,user generated content (UGC)will increasingly become an essential element in inspiring and engaging potential travellers.


Traveler Experience