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Despite the wonderful anticipation of being on holiday, there’s a step prior to actually being at my long-awaited destination that I absolutely loathe – and I’m guessing I’m not the only one in this – the planning and booking part.
Navigating through hundreds of offers and options just to find your flight, followed by some more searching and comparing to book a room, can be exhausting and frustrating. It’s a little bit like going to one of those huge Nordic furniture megastores: so much choice available and at affordable prices… but have you ever managed to avoid a fight with your partner? And doesn’t it all feel a bit too impersonal, with the one-size-fits all approach?
It makes me long for the days, 30 or 40 years ago, when all travel agencies provided much more of a personalised experience. Today many of us visit a website, fill in our dates, and select from a ready-made range of itineraries – just like everyone else. Back then, though, your travel agent was actually a person with a face. And he or she would almost be a close friend, someone who knew what your hobbies were and whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, allowing them to plan your holidays exactly to your needs… but saving you all the hassle.
Don’t get me wrong. The fact that international travel became a mass-consumer experience is great. It democratised what was only available for a few privileged people. But as more of us were able to benefit, personalisation was lost in the vast numbers of pre-packaged and low-cost trips. It all became about enabling a wider cross-section of people to experience the joys of travel. Just like the furniture stores that began to stock huge numbers of products, but forcing consumers to trawl through the growing options to find what they were after.
Fortunately, technology has now presented us with an opportunity to go back to the days of vintage travel, when every trip was tailored to our preferences, regardless of where we book it. For example, personalisation now presents airlines with a chance to look back to a time when travel agents knew your individual wants and needs, because they knew you as an individual. By offering highly relevant and tailored offers, airlines can boost revenues and foster customer loyalty, while at the same time reinvigorating the travel experience with a sense of intimacy not seen since the 1960’s.
Technology is empowering airlines with the opportunity to personalise travel whilst catering to a market of many millions of travellers. Research by Frost & Sullivan, commissioned by Amadeus, found that by offering context-aware, personalised travel services to consumers, airlines can increase conversions rates and profitable relationships.