Steps to successful personalization, how Emirates did it


Qubit has published a White Paper revealing top strategies to apply personalization in a meaningful way, presenting a case study of the process followed by Emirates Airlines.

With a defined scope for the project, a stated a corporate-wide goal to better understand customers, the airline was able to boost revenue from personalization efforts.

The critical first step is to ensure that stakeholders in the personalization program aren’t working at cross-purposes. As Dan Bensley, industry lead, travel, at Qubit says:

“Personalization affects more than one team, so making teams cross functional is essential.”

Qubit says that key personalization team members should include a Senior stakeholder to champion the program and a responsible project manager to oversee the implementation and track day-to-day progress.

One or more digital product managers should identify specific use cases and customer experiences where personalization might add value, and select one or two channels for initial testing of personalization initiatives.

Technology teams should manage CRM data integration and handle any development required to deploy personalization initiatives.

A business analyst function, including revenue management team representatives, would be responsible to interpret the results of tests and uncover other opportunities from personalization.

personalization

Qubit study shows Emirates path to personalization

Crowdsource, roadmap, rest, refine

The team should query colleagues from around the business to get fresh ideas and have a defined method to measure the feasibility of these projects. Qubit has drafted a workbook to help guide teams in the right direction.

Working together with a roadmap for the project, cross-functional team members should be encouraged to experiment and refine.

David Galovic, VP corporate communications, marketing & brand (Digital) Emirates says:

“A test and learn approach…allows people to try out new ideas without fear, [and helps us] form our future project roadmaps with less up-front investment.”

Emirates started its personalization program with A/B and multivariate testing, and then built out their strategy to include customer experience enhancements, feedback, and segmented personalization.

Galovic says:

“We put together a framework of segments that can be overlaid to target experiences… to help us ensure that things are built in a common way, with a common language teams can refer to.”

The success of personalization efforts will depend on the systematic flexibility of how the data gathered is applied in the context of the customer’s need at any point in time.

Galovic says:

“The context of what [travelers are] doing on the site is more important than their historic behavior or profile.”

Companies need to integrate their data collection from various contact points, and a way to integrate varied sources of data including onsite behavior, survey feedback, and CRM activity. They will need IT systems that offer adequate storage and can query swiftly at scale, as the data sets grow.

Gain vs pain

The investment time and resources to deploy an effective on-going personalization program can be considerable, but Qubit reports that a four-year study of 2 billion user journeys shows that personalization can deliver up to 6% uplift in top-line revenue which can serve as a significant incentive.

Emirates reported 1% uplift in revenue per converted visitor from a single Cash+Miles initiative targeted at key loyalty customers.

Thomas Cook Airlines, reported a 1.8% uplift in revenue per converted visitor on a live pricing API initiative which used location data to offer last-minute deals to visitors departing from the airport nearest to them.

But beyond revenue growth, as consumer habits evolve, developing personalization capabilities is becoming a competitive necessity.

Qubit also published results from its 2018 Travel Survey of more than 1,000 consumers in the US and UK which sheds light on the differences between younger and older travelers in their approach to booking travel and taking vacations.

Graham Cooke, CEO, Qubit says:

“Our survey results show that today’s travel customers are increasingly fickle, but the data also shows that their behavior can be modified through personalization features such as recommendations. This confirms our belief that personalization should be standard practice across the board.

“We also identified a clear trend towards mobile, with younger demographics starting to favor mobile as their booking channel of choice. Travel companies should expect 2018 to be the year when customers expect the experience of researching and reserving travel on our wireless devices to be just as easy and trouble-free as on the desktop.”

Qubit finds that the three segments that respond best to personalization are consumers under 35, families and last-minute bookers.

US travelers are significantly more loyal to the sites they’ve booked travel with previously – 27.19 percent of US travelers said they wouldn’t switch from the site they booked before versus 9.49 percent of UK consumers.

The survey also found that most travelers welcome recommendations based on previous searches or purchases, which means that personalized offers are bound to be welcome.

Though younger demographics are more open to these, the percentage of those over 35 who are also receptive to personalized offers is significant.

In the UK, 69%  of consumers under 35 found recommendations helpful, versus 40 percent of over 35 years of age.

In the US, 78% of travelers under 35 found recommendations helpful, versus 64% of those over 35 years of age.



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