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For some, the thought that every Google search and mobile booking they make gets fed into a master database is just a tad too “Big Brother” for comfort. But what if this vast wealth of data was used to make traveller’s experiences richer, more enjoyable and personalised to their specific preferences?

According to the latest World Travel Market (WTM) Global Trends Report this is exactly what the next era of travel will be all about – or what they refer to as Travel 3.0, the advent of smart travel. In a nutshell, this means using big data and mobile technology to provide personalised experiences to travellers on the go. From sending them notifications with the top trending restaurants within a 2km radius just before lunchtime, or alerting them to a last-minute half-price discount at a nearby tourist attraction – the applications are endless.

All of this is fuelled by the staggering growth of global mobile travel sales, which reached US$96 billion in 2014 and is forecast to grow at around 22% over the next five years. With every transaction, travel companies are learning more about consumers and storing this information, usually referred to as big data.

The magic happens when this is coupled with beacon technology, enabling travel companies to send their customers the right information, in the right place, at the right time. This means taking a step away from impersonal mass marketing and instead shifting towards highly personalised one-to-one marketing, with each customer treated differently based on their past behaviour, personal preferences and location.

The companies likely to pioneer the way will be those with vast knowledge of their consumers. Online travel companies are also extremely well-positioned to offer personalised services and we can expect to see an increasingly individualised approach in the coming years.

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