From mass-market launch in 1950’s, the package holiday grew year on year, with consumers loving the ease (1). In their hay day, nearly 60% of UK holiday makers were taking package breaks (2).

But come the 1990s, independent travel surged and package holidays became a bit “naff”. Consumers sought to go it alone and travel the less trodden paths.

20 years later, the trend for new and personally curated experiences keeps growing, with customers choosing to stay away from the one-size fits all package breaks of the past. Since 2014 there’s been a 21% growth in revenue from tours, attractions, events and activity add ons (3). Travellers (not tourists) are determined to come back from their holiday with a new skill, a richer spirit and unforgettable memories.

The key is offering the best of both: a wider variety of new experiences within a package environment. Giving consumers the option to make their holiday their own.

But too many possibilities can leave consumers feeling overwhelmed and indecisive. For the travel industry, this can equate to lost sales. Offering more, generating less.

So how do you help your customers plan without presenting an overwhelming menu of ideas?

Get to know your customers
Spend time understanding their needs, wants, and most importantly, motivations. Knowing what customers are looking for and why can help your business tailor its offering.

As marketers, this can help create personas of customers (key groups that want and behave similarly). You can then cluster and frame the products and services available to them, based on their reasons for travel.

It could be something simple like First Choice which offers Family, Premium and Adult Only options. Or better still, hotels.com which allows customers to filter by theme – Romantic, Adventure or Shopping.

Two ways to learn more about your customers are:

Ask. Add questionnaires, surveys and polls into your communications. Set up a customer panel or ask customers to attend a focus group.
Observe. Track what they buy and what they search for.

Take customers on a personal journey
Segmenting customers to serve a reduced list of framed options is one thing, responding to real time behaviour is another. 60% of marketers say real-time data is the most effective source of personalising (4).

Listening to what each customer is doing will help you to tailor the experience and content just for them making your next move as personal as it can be but, think carefully about that next move.

81% consumers want a personalised experience (5) but, they don’t want a hotel ad that follows them on Facebook weeks after booking. This isn’t personalisation, it’s unnecessarily holding up a mirror to what a customer has done.

Personalisation is like a conversation – listen, think, respond – keep the topic moving forward. If a customer dropped out, would an alternative be better? Only by testing will you know.

This may seem daunting, but there’s a plethora of technologies available to enable personalisation at scale. But think what you want to do, why and how before you go tech shopping.

Don’t underestimate the power of inspiration
Hyper-personalisation could lead you down the path of marketing by numbers. This may help narrow the choices for guests, but are they being inspired?

How you say what you say has just as big an impact as what you say.

Content creation is often overlooked, especially for CRM, with teams having to beg, steal and borrow from PR or ATL. Make it a priority, spend time creating good content that continually engages and excites customers.

Our role in CRM is to help customers make decisions. This relies on being a both guiding hand to simplify the choices, and the friend that encourages you to try something new.

1. https://www.abta.com/sites/default/files/2018-10/Holiday%20Habits%20Report%202018%20011018.pdf
2. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/jun/14/brief-history-package-holidays
3. https://medium.com/vadoapp/the-rise-of-experiential-travel-how-is-the-industry-adapting-6c625519fb07#_ftn1
4. https://econsultancy.com/12-stats-that-prove-why-personalisation-is-so-important/
5. https://martechtoday.com/new-era-personalization-hyper-connected-customer-experience-209529

This article by Catrina Law, Associate Planning Director at Armadillo, first appeared on Travel Weekly today.