ersonalization has been around in some form since the ’90s. But over the years, advances in machine learning, AI, and big data have evolved the concept from fun trend to must-have amenity. In 2023, receiving communications that address them by name, relevant trip recommendations, location-based updates and more are just something that travelers expect.
In fact, recent surveys reveal that 86 percent of travelers will be looking for personalization during their travel experiences. That’s no small slice of the hospitality pie. We put together a list of the most popular trends for 2023, and how you can ensure your property is always ahead of the game.
- Guest preference tracking. There are so many opportunities to map your customers’ journeys, from the start of their research to a post-travel survey. It’s possible to collect information from every guest interaction, then use machine learning to create a personalized recommendation engine based on what they’ve told you their interests are. (One word of warning: Always use guest information safely and ethically.)
To reach the full potential of this trend, don’t forget to pay attention to repeat guests. Preference tracking is a great way to personalize rewards for returning customers as well. In a world where all of the good deals seem to be aimed at new business only, this can be a great way to build satisfaction and loyalty.
- Hyper-personalization. As the name suggests, this trend goes beyond run-of-the-mill personalization. Hyper-personalization which focuses on individual travelers vs. traveler segments, delivers completely unique, tailored, and relevant experiences to individual travelers. By analyzing large volumes of data, advanced technology like AI, machine learning, and analytics can be used to create personalized experiences at a granular level. And this isn’t a nice-to-have. A recent study found that 71 percent of travelers expect personalized interactions, and 64 percent get frustrated when they don’t.
- Real-time custom updates. This aspect of personalization focuses on delivering relevant experiences in the moment based on immediate user actions, behavior, location or context. This technology involves a combination of data analysis, predictive analytics, and automated decision-making to make relevant selections. (Do you know those moments where you get an ad or a recommendation and you say to yourself, “How did they know?” That’s real-time personalization at work.
- Contextual personalization. This tactic is largely based on time and space, taking into account a user’s location, type of device, time of day or browsing behavior to deliver personalized recommendations. Understanding context allows you to deliver a much richer and more timely experience.
- Omnichannel personalization. It can be overwhelming to choose which media channels to focus on for a marketing campaign, but the demand for seamless and consistent experiences across the board is growing. To win in this space, it’s essential to deliver tailored experiences across various touchpoints, such as websites, mobile apps, social media, email, and even physical stores if it applies. To take it a step further omnichannel means delivering a consistent message that fits the tone of each channel (Tiktok vs. Instagram, for example).
The benefits of personalization
Some of these tactics require a pretty significant investment, especially if it involves best-in-class tech. Is it worth it? A recent McKinsey study says yes: personalization can cut customer acquisition costs in half, increase revenue by up to 15 percent, and achieve up to 30 percent ROI. There are a number of ways to achieve those numbers, but they all have one thing in common – think about yourself as a consumer, and what causes you to make the leap from shopper to buyer.
- Improved customer experience. Personalization enhances the customer experience by delivering tailored and relevant content, recommendations, and offers. When customers feel that a brand understands their needs and preferences, they are more likely to engage positively with the brand, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.
- Increased customer engagement. By providing personalized experiences, brands can capture the attention of customers, increase their interaction and time spent with the brand’s content or offerings, and encourage them to take desired actions such as making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or sharing feedback.
- Higher conversion rates and sales. Personal, relevant marketing messages and recommendations can have a significant impact on conversion rates and sales. Think about yourself as a customer: When you receive recommendations that align with your interests and needs, you’re more likely to hit the Book Now button.
- Increased customer loyalty and retention. Brand loyalty can be a make-or-break purchase factor these days, and personalization plays a crucial role in fostering that relationship. By tailoring experiences to individual customers, brands can strengthen emotional connections and create a sense of being valued.
- Enhanced customer lifetime value. Put all of this together and it leads to a higher customer lifetime value (CLV), which encompasses customer retention, repeat purchases, and upselling or cross-selling opportunities. And, at the end of the day, the foundation is just four words: “This brand (or hotel, or destination) gets me.”
Hearing from your customers directly
We as marketers are able to read trends, understand the science and make smart decisions, but at the end of the day, it’s what the customers want that matters. The McKinsey researchers wanted to know those answers, so they went straight to the source and asked. Here’s what more than 2,000 respondents said their top requests were:
“Give me relevant recommendations I wouldn’t have thought of myself.”
“Talk to me when I’m in shopping mode.”
“Remind me of things I want to know but might not be keeping track of.”
“Know me no matter where I interact with you.”
You can dig into the details of this research here.
If personalization sounds like where you want to be but you aren’t sure how to get started, Hawthorn Creative has an expert staff of digital strategists, creatives, and analysts you can work with you every step of the way.