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The Connected Traveler - Customer experience in real-time

by Helen Roberts , 15.02.2016

Young shoppers are open to sharing personal information in return for a tailored, personalized retail experience. It is now possible to engage with and gather data from customers via their mobiles, tablets and smart watches – from when they book right through to when they check in at the hotel. How can the industry make the most of the new opportunities, while reassuring customers about the security of their data?

In our 2015 Young Shopper Study, we surveyed more than seven thousand 18 to 21 year olds in ten markets about all aspects of the shopping experience including their preferences and expectations for the future. The survey revealed that the shopper of the future expects an omnichannel shopping experience.

This reflects the latest research in the travel industry, where consumers are using multiple devices.

The connected traveler

Sales of wearable devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers are predicted to reach $114 million worldwide in 2016. Our Young Shopper Survey predicts a continued appetite for personalization amongst the connected consumer and a willingness to embrace technologies such as wearables if that means easier, more tailored shopping or traveling.

Furthermore, young shoppers are willing to trade their personal information where they see a direct benefit to them. For example, the survey revealed that 49% of 16-21 year olds in Brazil want to buy products unique to them, and 51% want the store to “talk” to their mobile phone to tell them about products that match their needs.

The rise of “bleisure”

This is the time for marketers to think big, be creative and respond to the trends identified through real-time analysis of big data. For example, six out of ten travelers are now more likely to mix leisure and business trips than five years ago, leading to the emergence and identification of a new market called “bleisure”. The most popular activities in “bleisure” trips are sightseeing, dining and arts and culture. And while corporate and leisure travelers were previously distinct from one another, having different needs, this new type of traveler requires a more personalized service.

GfK - Blog Six out of ten travelers are now more likely to mix business and pleasure trips

By understanding customers’ lifestyles and what they value most, personalized and timely communication is possible. This is intelligent marketing, which far outperforms the old style “scattergun” approach of sending one message to everybody.

Tailored travel – but avoiding the “tipping point”

While personalization builds relationships with customers and allows a more tailored and convenient service, it cannot be taken too far. There is a “tipping point” for consumers at which they feel that brands are getting “too personal”. Brands should not make the mistake of thinking that in the generation of the connected consumer they have a license to change the terms of their relationship with consumers so that it is always set to “on”. Of the people we surveyed, 90% said they would prefer to buy from companies that respect their privacy and 86% would like more control of how their data is used.

This is an exciting time for the travel industry, an unprecedented opportunity to walk alongside customers, informing them, engaging them and entertaining them at every stage of their journey. Offering tailored services to customers, informed by best insights gained through real-time big data analytics could make the difference between success and failure in an increasingly competitive marketplace. But it must be done with respect for personal privacy.

For more information on any of the topics covered please contact Helen Roberts, UK Travel lead at helen.roberts@gfk.com.