Why travel agencies should adopt a ‘Build-a-Bear’ approach to personalisation

Ana Delgado

PR Manager, Amadeus España

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There are some incredibly ingenious initiatives throughout the business world. Take Build-a-Bear Workshop for example. It’s a shop with more than 400 retail outlets worldwide that has become a paradigm of personalisation by letting its customers totally customise a teddy bear, right down to its accessories, a custom birth certificate, and an optional voice box with a personalised message.

Travel Agency Personalisation

Traditionally, teddy bears are relatively generic, however, Build-a-Bear customers finish the process believing that they have purchased an exclusive and unique product.

But, what does a company that sews, stuffs and dresses up teddy bears have to do with a travel agency, a hotel, or an airline? Much more than you can imagine. This peculiar toy shop represents an extreme long tail business model. Most of their revenue does not come from selling a large number of products to many different customer profiles. In fact, at Build-a-Bear there is no standardised product, and you could say that 100% of their revenue comes from selling unique products to unique customers.

Very specialised businesses that sell their products to very specific customer profiles are now possible thanks to technology. Customers that look for products that no one else is looking for can only be catered to by a company whose processes are sufficiently automated. Whether that automation comes from a machine for stuffing teddy bears or a sophisticated platform for travel bookings, the concepts behind them are the same: optimising process standardisation and freeing time and resources in order to provide customers with something personalised.

Many travel agencies have already realised that their profitability cannot be based on conventional customers paying conventional prices for conventional products. That’s why travel agencies who understand that every customer is unique and has particular needs that demand special attention are growing.

This is how businesses such as Focus on Women, which offers female writers, artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals an opportunity to share inspirational travel memories, and Past View, a site which uses augmented reality to travel through different Spanish cities as they were hundreds of years ago have emerged.

We already know that technology is the key for many businesses, but the real challenge is to make each product offering and service unique through personalisation. Like every teddy bear assembled at Build-a-Bear, each travel experience must be unique too.


Traveler Experience, Travel Platform