Leveraging AI in the Travel Industry: Enhancing Customer Experiences
Travel marketing campaigns evolved from mass marketing content to hyper-personalized experiences. Today, consumers expect brands to understand what they want and when they want it. Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in travel marketing can help you meet this challenge and exceed customer expectations.
AI technologies harness big data and provide actionable insights, allowing you to personalize and potentially shorten the customer journey. Moreover, AI, machine learning (ML), and automation tools can make the customer experience memorable and frictionless. With artificial intelligence in the travel industry poised to grow, now is the time to use AI to design individualized customer experiences that attract new and repeat travelers.
What is Travel Marketing?
Travel and tourism marketing refers to strategies and tactics to generate leads, customers, and repeat business. But it's more than that. Your messaging and timing either curates a fantastic first impression, or it doesn't. Segmenting your email list by age and location is no longer enough. Nor can you rely entirely on third-party data.
Travel intelligence tools collect and analyze data, allowing you to personalize landing pages, chatbot responses, and more. AI and ML technologies power customer experiences and inform your digital marketing plan, content marketing strategy, and advertising objectives.
And the industry has taken notice, with the travel and hospitality AI market predicted to "surpass [the] $1.2 billion mark by 2026." Indeed, AI creates significant value for travel brands, which is why 48% of business executives "are likely to invest in AI and automation in customer interactions over the next two years," according to Deloitte. Using AI and a data-driven travel marketing strategy, you can predict behaviors and proactively market to your ideal customers.
How AI is Being Used in Travel Marketing
Interactions near the top of the funnel set the stage for future communications. Brands use AI in travel marketing for media buying, ad targeting, and content creation technologies like AI modeling to help you reach your ideal audience efficiently and cost-effectively. Likewise, predictive analytics and insights maximize big data in the travel industry. As tourism marketing evolves, the use cases for machine learning and artificial intelligence in travel marketing will increase.
AI Technologies Predict Travel and Behavioral Trends
A crucial part of travel and tourism marketing is being ready for the next trend — in-demand amenities, destinations, or customer preferences for booking and communicating. Digital technologies like AI and ML can identify the direct and indirect factors affecting travel and behavior.
So, how is big data being used in the travel industry? Here are three travel marketing examples of big data in action:
- Descriptive analytics: Brands forecast future events using historical and real-time customer data. Based on the insights, leaders can devise promotions to increase occupancy at a location or boost early booking sales.
- Predictive analytics: AI in tourism supports long-term forecasting, allowing marketers to create effective and personalized campaigns months before the peak season.
- Prescriptive analytics: Companies create simulation scenarios based on data. These are used to visualize marketing strategies with the highest return on investment (ROI).
AI-Powered Hyper-Personalization Increases Brand Loyalty
Hyper-personalization shows travelers that a brand knows and values them. It uses data analytics, automation, and AI to collect information about individual customers, such as real-time engagement levels and psychographics. AI-enabled tools create in-the-moment experiences through recommendation engines, dynamic web pages, and contextualized messaging.
Delivering individualized content at the right time and on the right channel helps brands establish trust and form meaningful customer relationships. Indeed, McKinsey & Company found that "78% of consumers are more likely to make repeat purchases from companies that personalize."
Travel Intelligence Detects and Solves Customer Experience Issues
Artificial intelligence in the travel industry provides historical and real-time insights quicker than manual data analysis. You don't have to wait until your customer service reps complain about answering the same question repeatedly. Or sift through brand mentions online. Travel intelligence can provide a single source of information and reveal problems with the customer's experience before it becomes a significant issue.
Artificial intelligence can analyze data sets from multiple places, including social media, online reviews, and messaging channels. It identifies behavior patterns and specific keywords or sentiments. If the same question or problem keeps coming up, you can address it before it happens again.
AI lets you proactively monitor the customer journey with insights from:
- User-generated content (UGC): This category is generated by users and includes customer feedback, like surveys, product or brand reviews, and social network posts.
- Transactions: Google Analytics, point of sale (POS) software, and e-commerce platforms share online booking, web search, and purchasing information.
- Communications: AI, ML, and natural language processing (NLP) can identify keywords and sentiments from chatbot, telephone, and messaging conversations.
Predictive Segmentation Improves Tourism Marketing
Artificial intelligence in travel industry marketing is essential for accommodating and satisfying a diverse customer base. Generational and regional differences may affect the effectiveness of your campaigns. Notably, 90% of Generation Z respondents to a Hospitality Net survey "use social media to find sources for booking and accommodation for their vacations," whereas only 10% of Baby Boomers do.
Predictive segmentation groups customers according to their probability of taking action, such as the likelihood to reserve now or to book again. AI models, algorithms, and automation tools can automatically categorize leads and send personalized messages or push notifications. Like other types of travel intelligence, predictive segmentation helps reach consumers at the right time and on the right channel.
Optimize Customer Experiences with AI In Travel Marketing
According to Google, "36% of travelers would likely pay more for services if a travel brand tailored its information and trip experiences to personal preferences or past behavior." Yet, many companies struggle to rein in big data and make sense of it. AI-powered tools and insights can help you personalize moments and take a proactive, customer-centric approach to travel and tourism marketing. Contact MNI to learn more about travel and tourism marketing and AI capabilities.
About the Author
@Janine Pollack, MNI Integrated Marketing Director and self-appointed Storyteller in Chief, leads the brands commitment to generating content that informs and inspires. Prior to MNI, Janine worked with Fortune 500 companies and world-renowned institutions on numerous research and white papers, podcasts and thought-leadership and education campaigns.