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Consumer Engagement with Travelers – Opportunities with big data & mobile

Travelers today in the globally connected, socially aware world are certainly far challenging to handle, let’s explore how big data &
mobile can get back the “Guest First” focus for travel & transportation companies, and convert the challenges into opportunities.


Let me first speak for myself, being a frequent traveler, have always disregarded the generic promotion emails and offers that lands into my
inbox and never have cared about ads that appear while on websites, or never found it attractive to avail an inflight/travel shopping deal. Why, because the
consumer in me feels that I am not treated special or the offer is not relevant to me. I guess the same would be the case with the 1.08 billion international travelers that travelled in 2013.

Chief Marketing Officer of a Travel or Transportation company need to serve these consumers across their omni-channel touch points  – websites, travel agents, social media,loyalty programs, travel forums, call centers etc and keep the engagement seamless and 1×1 personalized. CMOs also have the challenge of balancing the revenue goals with the consumer engagement goals, to potentially prove their consumer engagement intensity leads to revenues.

Understand Digital Body Language

To make this consumer engagement a possibility, there is a need to understand the digital body language of the consumer. In an airline
context it could be capturing the traveler website flight search tracks, social media travel related interactions, travel forum comments and likes etc.


This essentially is a big data opportunity, as millions of consumers with 100s of millions of tracks (activities) across omni-channels gets
recorded in the consumer journey repository. Consumers profile gets enriched based on all the touch points through attributes that can be based on defined segmentation rules as well as through predictive models.  This could include behavior pattern of the consumer. Research in Europe suggest that many travelers search for tickets online but actually purchase them through travel agents due to some convenience.

Here is an example of visualization of consumer journey:


Engage and Act

Now that there is a good understanding about the consumer, lets discuss how this can be leveraged to engage and act with the consumers.
Lets explore couple of use cases here:

More contextual offers : remember my earlier expectation as a consumer that I would like to be treated special and do not care about generic offers. Imagine traveler who is planning a trip to Hawaii, has tweeted about his upcoming trip, checked out Hawaii hotels and searched for flight tickets in In the normal context this traveler gets a standard promotion that could be an offer to Europe, but here the offer could be contextual based on his tracks in consumer journey.

Cabin crew insights & action: Imagine with mobile technologies, the cabin crew is provided with a tablet app that can help her to understand the consumer journey better and provide better engagement through recommendations that are personalized for the consumer. Here is how it would look like where cabin crew can engage and act with the traveler on board and even offer in-flight shopping that the Guest had liked in facebook.


The above two use cases are just some possibilities but there are numerous ways that consumer engagement can be enhanced through big data and mobile.

The important thing here is whether is it possible for marketers to derive these insights or act with contextual recommendations manually, and
the simple answer is its “impossible” given its big data. This is where a Consumer Engagement Platform that supports segmentation and recommendation rules, look~a~like algorithms and predictive models can help significantly, and also help CMOs to balance consumer engagement and revenue goals.

To learn more about this next generation consumer engagement leveraging SAP Big Data and Mobile technologies, join us in the Travel & Transportation International Conference in Germany on 2 & 3 April 2014. Allow connect with us on twitter @saptravel

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      Author's profile photo Philip Te Hau
      Philip Te Hau

      Great article and I agree as a fellow frequent traveller I treat the "travel spam" in the same manner. The tools and techniques that you talk of do exactly as you say; STM of Montreal knows the value of using SAP and putting the "Guest first". The benefits are amazing...