Data overload in the travel sector: how to make sense of it?
18 / 08 / 2015
By Eve Bayer
Marketing Director at Winkle
Marketers in most categories today may find themselves inundated with data, but it seems especially true for those traversing the Travel and Hospitality industry. With summer travel on the brain here at Winkle, here’s a look into how to make data overload feel like a beach vacation.
Hint: it’s all about keeping the human understanding in data collection and analysis. With the right mix of research tools, it’s within reach.
Part 1: Where is all the data coming from? How reliable is it?
From Disney’s FastPass+ to Starwood’s concept rooms that include ‘smart’ mirrors, everything a traveler does will be tracked and customized. Such technology has benefits of ease and convenience for the traveler (albeit perhaps some privacy concerns). For the brands, it means vast data to understand and quantify its consumers’ behavior and preferences. But which data is the most useful for pinpointing fresh needs?
Social media for bragging, staying in touch…and venting.
Travel is a unique category. It hits on passion areas: new experiences, indulgences, family memories. It also sparks frustrations – ever travel on Christmas Eve? People are not shy about sharing these experiences in lush, graphic detail with their social networks, be it on Instagram, travel review sites, and beyond. Certainly for travel marketers, there’s no shortage of user commentary to mine. But such ratings can take hours of reading reviews to decode frustrations that present opportunities.
Lengthy (and incredibly boring) customer feedback surveys.
Existing customer experience surveys certainly generate a lot of data for travel brands. But are they getting to real frustrations? These surveys are often upwards of 20-minutes in length; one-size-fits-all (i.e., generic); and taken after the experience is over. Considering travel brands are all about creating enjoyable, rewarding experiences, why are many generating data from customer satisfaction surveys that are anything but enjoyable?
Part 2: With vast data being collected, how do we make best use of it?
We suggest a simple framework to bring focus to data collection in the travel sector: frustrations and delighters. That is, identify moments of frustrations to relieve, and moments of delight to enhance. The travel industry is ripe with both, of course.
Here are some practical examples of how we’re approaching the travel category lately.
Evolving to emotion analytics.
Imagine feedback surveys that are easier and more enjoyable for respondents, while generating more potent and reliable insight. Using advanced analytics, we can design simplified surveys that ask just a few questions and allow respondents to answer in normal, human speech—instead of 5 point likert scales. We then analyze this higher quality data using our proprietary methodology that’s based in decades of linguistics research about how people use language to mask what they really mean. These lenses extract meaning that is not apparent on the surface, but, rather, reflects what people really think in their unfiltered mind. Thus we can detect emergent needs for marketers to solve.
Engaging Lead Users to find latent needs.
The insight you gain from research is highly reliant on who you engage. Social Scientist Eric von Hippel coined the term Lead Users to describe people who are actively engaged in your category; able to articulate frustrations that are latent in the mainstream; and intrinsically motivated to advance the category with solutions. Who better to engage for immersion in the travel experience as it is today, and uncover fresh problems to serve as the basis for innovation?
Analyzing the 360 degree experience.
Zoom out to understand needs and preferences from before they book, to their departure for the airport, to arrival at a hotel, to easing back into home life. How can you infuse your brand’s hospitality at these points? Remember that one brand may not have all the data to put the clues together, so consider “vertically integrating,” through strategic partnerships or by inserting your brand in new parts of the customer journey.
In conclusion, we believe the cure to data overload for marketers and researchers in the travel space is to have the right mix. The techniques we’ve presented here provide that mix based on cutting edge technology to make sense of the data, the right consumers to help you look at the category fresh, and a holistic view of your clientele’s experience.