In an age of the promises of Big Data, can travel brands finally win the hearts (and spend) of customers?
Chris Nurko, global chairman of FutureBrand, believes that as hospitality brands gather volumes of data on traveler preferences they must analyze and apply that knowledge in an empathic and predictive way, inspiring love and loyalty.
Fast-access to competitive travel offerings through online channels has accelerated the volatility of brand appeal, he tells us.
To a degree, for airlines, partnerships have also diluted the value of the offering leaving consumers insecure of whether they are buying the real brand or a code-share brand.
This brand insecurity opens up opportunities for low-price competitors, and, without a sound value proposition to counter that effect, consumers find no reason to stick around.
“Brand only plays an important role when the consumer understands what the value proposition is.
“The challenge for the legacy carriers, and for those dabbling in the low-cost end, when you start cutting off the brand to match pricing is that what I always thought was included in the price of the ticket is now pay-as-you-go, and it is at odds with the marketing efforts of the company.
“It seems like I’m being penalized. As a frequent flyer, you feel that you may as well have picked one of the low-costs.”
He adds that this problem isn’t exclusive to airlines and affects all hospitality brands.
As market competition intensifies and customers gain ready-access to competitive offers, marketing and retail dynamics must become far more sophisticated.
They look with fresh eyes for data ‘lost’ through limited and impersonal analytics.
“There’s a tension between the business operations, the data analytics side, and the human service aspect. They have to recognize that they are all still in the business of service.”
He believes hospitality companies should be mindful to visualize data as representing individuals, first and always, not mere numbers and statistics.