Airlines are beginning to realize the huge potential of big data – including user search data – for their marketing efforts. It’s only been a few short years since the industry began to come around to the techniques already broadly deployed across the entire e-Commerce sphere, and yet the positive change has already been immense. However, while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it also has its practical limitations.
Adoption of the “drive to personalize” sales channels in the cookie-cutter fashion – building demographic profiles, analyzing shopping habits, and creating “look-alike audiences” – definitely has its place in the airline industry, it’s not without its critical flaws. Simply put, there are practical realities to selling plane tickets online that are entirely ignored by personalization systems.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet time and time again we see airlines under-utilizing the readily-available – and anonymous – information customers provide them – user search data.
The Shortcomings of Personalization in the Airline Industry
Today, the race is on to capture as much data about a traveler purchasing a flight on an airline’s eCommerce site as possible. Huge sums of money are being expended on systems that collect every conceivable classification such as age, gender, nationality, income level, etc.
But with all of this attention to information that can help make a sale in the future, very little is done to get the most out of the information the customer is searching for right then – things such as their origin, destination, date of travel, or desired fare class.
In other words, the customer’s actual intent to buy in the moment is being de-emphasized by this process. User search data can help add to personalization efforts by filling in this gap.
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