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The Rise of Relevance

and Customer
Driving Travel Bookings through Seamless,
Personal Experiences

February 2016



Every time a traveler considers taking a trip, airlines, hotels and online travel agents (OTAs) have a
tremendous opportunity to become a trusted partner and earn more business. But the window to
turn searchers into bookers and beat the competition is small.
While there is a sweet spot when travelers can be persuaded to book with a certain carrier or travel
website over another, few companies proactively take the right kind of action to win the sale, and
instead leave the consumers decision up to price, convenience and timing.

Travel marketers and e-commerce executives may think that a travelers decision is largely out
of their control, as most travelers tend to select the option that is cheapest and most convenient.
But beyond cost and schedules, new Boxever research shows that providing a better customer
experience and a more personalized booking process can help airlines and OTAs start to win the
loyalty game and stand out from the competition.
Boxever surveyed more than 500 travelers and found that:

Relevant experiences and offers drive purchases. Relevance is second only to

cost in most travel purchase decisions. In fact, more than 85 percent of those
surveyed said theyd value travel websites that remember personal preferences and
automatically present the most relevant travel options first.



Comprehensive information and personalized marketing is a must. Travelers want

to know that they are making the best possible choice, with all relevant information
available. The majority of travelers surveyed will spend weeks researching and
considering the possibilities before booking, which creates a critical window for travel
providers to add value and influence the purchase decision with personalized and
timely offers.

Travelers pick convenience over creepiness. Travelers are willing to provide more
personal information to airlines and travel providers if it supports a better customer
experience. More than half of all travelers surveyed would like travel companies
such as OTAs, ground transportation, hotels and airlines to work together
and automatically share information to create a more seamless, connected travel

Customer loyalty is available for the taking. According to Deloitte, just 44 percent
of all travelers fly at least three-quarters of their air miles on their preferred airline
today. This lack of brand loyalty creates a major opportunity for airlines to better
connect with their customers and build a brand reputation that elevates their
offerings over competitors.

This report shares new consumer findings around the travel search and booking process and
reveals critical insight for travel executives looking to increase conversion rates, drive more revenue
and earn repeat business.



What do travelers want during the search and booking process?
Surprisingly, its more than low-cost flights and accommodations. While
cost has long been the number one consideration for travelers, only 47
percent of those surveyed said they prefer airlines and OTAs to present the
cheapest flights first in online search results.
A close second in importance is relevance. Nearly a third of travelers want
the best, most relevant options presented first, those that take into account
a spectrum of key elements: price, timing, duration, personal preferences,
travel history and needs.

Did you know?

Relevance is second
only to cost in
importance when
booking travel.

Those personal preferences and travel histories are particularly important: 48

percent of travelers who purchase extras or services do so when booking.
The window of opportunity for upselling customers is small: just 16 percent will
add extras in the days before a flight, and even fewer wait until they actually
arrive at the airport. To maximize conversions and ancillary revenue, its crucial
for travel providers to know what an individual customer values most before,
during and after the booking process.

When are you most likely to buy travel extras or ancillary services
(such as early boarding, in-flight Wi-Fi, seat upgrade) from an airline?
Right before I
board the plane



When Im at the

When I book
my flight

A couple days
before I travel

Truly relevant marketing helps drive purchases. And today, relevance is

about much more than pseudo personalization like including a travelers
name in an email. Its knowing personal preferences, identifying context (is
the consumer traveling for business, with his or her family or for a friends
weekend in Vegas?) and leveraging that intelligence to create a more
personalized and easier booking process for customers.



A key channel for accomplishing this type of relevance is airline and OTA
websites. In fact, more than 85 percent of those surveyed said theyd value
travel websites that remember preferences and automatically present the
best and most relevant travel options based on their individual needs and
travel history.
Regardless of channel, reaching travelers is harder than ever before. Adblocking technology and changes in the way email is managed and filtered
mean that travel marketers need to be incredibly targeted and relevant
to drive action. Consider that, according to Boxevers survey, less than
a quarter of consumers check their promotions folder daily; almost 40
percent never even look.

How often do you check the promotions, clutter or advertisement tab

in your personal email?
Almost never

A couple times a year


Did you know?

For more than
half of consumers,
three out of every
four sales offers
they receive are

A couple times a month


About once or twice a week












Consumers disinterest in promotional messages stems from being on the

receiving end of years of poor targeting and marketing spam. According to
a 2015 Boxever report, for more than 50 percent of consumers, three out of
every four sales offers they receive are irrelevant to their needs and
preferences an incredibly high number considering the amount of
customer data available to brands today. This means that millions of
consumers are being spammed daily, an ineffective communication
strategy that negatively impacts future sales, conversion rates and
customer loyalty.The impact of this type of marketing approach is
significant40 percent are less likely to buy from companies that target
them with irrelevant messages and 59 percent would unsubscribe from that
companys content.
According to survey respondents, they would consider permanently moving a
companys communications from promotions/clutter/spam to the primary tab if:

Email content was consistently targeted to their needs and

preferences, and not the marketing priorities of the company (33%)



Emails consistently added value by providing additional information, offers and support
about something they are already doing (or planning to do) (33%)

The content consistently offered products, experiences, trips or services that they were
planning to purchase in the near future (24%)

The company is one of their favorite brands (24%)

Personalization is the path to better conversations, faster conversions and ultimately more loyal


Travel decisions are not made lightly. 67 percent of travelers surveyed spend weeks researching
and considering the possibilities before purchasing.
With a long gap between looking and booking, how can travel providers better nurture customers
and make them convert faster? According to the majority of travelers, there are three ways airlines
and hotels can influence them to book faster:

Send communications that recommend the best choice (for the traveler, personally) along
with a few next-best options

Send proactive, personalized and relevant email communication about the potential trip
(proactive, smart communications)

Send push notifications about the trip to his/her mobile devices

Once youve decided to take a trip, what is your approach to searching for and booking travel?
It takes me weeks to pull the
trigger, even if I think Ive found
a good deal

I book

Im the ultimate
procrastinator, and dont
purchase until the last

I research options for a couple of
weeks and then book



In taking time to book their trips, travelers want to know theyre making the best possible choice.
Having a solid understanding of all the options, like price, schedule, etc., as well as a clear
understanding of fees associated with a trip, is incredibly important for consumers.

When looking to book a trip, which of the following are important?

That my favorite brand, carrier or hotel is offered


Amount of seats/rooms available


Whether price will rise or fall


Fees and taxes


Understanding all options











Perhaps surprisingly, brand loyalty was least important. Only 22 percent of travelers said they care
about whether a particular brand, carrier or hotel is offered. In fact, nearly 50 percent of travelers
arent members of any brand loyalty programs, with just 28 percent believing that being a member
of such programs leads to more personalized service and better customer experience.

The fact that less than a quarter of travelers care whether a particular brand is
offered is a startling, but harsh reality for travel providers, who need to take a hard
look at loyalty and what truly wins customer love and share-of-wallet, beyond cost,
convenience and location.




Its official: the desire for convenience, customization and a seamless
experience officially trumps privacy concerns. Travelers want airlines and
hotels, for instance, to know what will make their lives easier. In fact, more
than 75 percent of those surveyed would find value in an airline or hotel
auto-synching relevant trip details with their calendar and mobile devices.
Of those who travel at least once a month, 54 percent would like airlines,
hotels, ground transportation providers and other travel companies to
automatically share their travel information to create a more seamless,
connected travel experience. The majority of those surveyed would
appreciate it if an airline automatically knew things like their seat preferences
(87%), connection schedule (87%), dietary needs (72%) and drink preferences
(68%). Where does the convenient-creepy line get crossed? Most travelers
seem to draw the line when it comes to airlines having automatic insight
into their vacation or destination plans (58 percent would find this intrusive)
and hotel plans (62 percent said no thanks).

What else do
travelers want?
The future of travel
likely holds many
new technologies
and services, but we
found travelers are
most interested in:
- Functionally
arranged in-flight
seating (57%)
- Biometrics (55%)
- Self-driving cars



While many travelers crave and will pay for more comfortable, customercentric and luxurious flights, thats not the case for all flyers. In fact,
according to Global Traveler, on top 10 lists of airlines since 2012, more
than half are low-cost airlines, due to their rapid expansion in aircraft and

- Personalized
in-flight digital
magazines (37%)

This rising demand for no-frills, more affordable flying has left many airline
executives pondering how to roll out new services and booking options to
more effectively compete on price. To that end, Boxever asked travelers
what they would be willing to give up for a cheaper ticket. Heres what they

Access to in-flight movies, magazines and music (73%)

Drink services (49%)
Boarding zone (board the plane last) (48%)
Seat size/leg room (19%)
Carry-on luggage (18%)
Bathrooms (8%)
A seat in favor of standing room (8%)

- Websites using
advanced intel to
auto book (36%)
- Robots (31%)
- In-flight sharing
economy (21%)

Learn more by
downloading our
Future of Travel
Tech infographic.

While some of these options are clearly not practical today, they underscore
an important reality for travel executives: no two travelers are the same.
One traveler may value the comfort of extra leg room and the convenience
of drink and snack service, another may just want to get from point A to
point B, as quickly and affordably as possible. In order to provide the best
service, delight customers and drive loyalty, airlines need personalized
insight into what matters most for each and every one of their customers.




To influence travelers purchase decisions, shorten the booking cycle and delight customers in
a way that drives loyalty and repeat business, Boxever recommends the following strategies for
airline, hotel and travel providers:

Personalize offers by the individual, in their context, across all channels. The days
of personalizing offers based on high-level demographics are long gone. Consider
what you know about your customers and what their preferences are. Remember that
context matters. Otherwise, you are missing opportunities to acquire, convert and
retain customers.

Invest in a single customer view. Collect data on customers in one record and
provide seamless experience across the entirety of a trip. Data is an untapped
resource that can make your business smarter and help develop one-to-one
relationships with your customers.

Make customer delight the end game. Travel brands can win major loyalty points by
leveraging whats already known about a customer to create small, but meaningful,
experiences. In todays landscape where travelers typically book based on price and
schedule, the airlines and hotels that can stand out and differentiate their brands
through the customer experience will be best positioned to capture more market
share in the years ahead.


Add value through comprehensive offers and options. The more relevant, the
better. Invest in making your search function more relevant and comprehensive to
drive faster conversions. Add value to something the consumer is already doing
(or planning to do), or revisit a product or service in which the customer previously
expressed interest. Provide valuable, timely communications to address traveler
wants and needs.

Whats the state of travel marketing today?

Download our report Grounded by Untargeted Marketing to learn
more about traveler frustrations and how to overcome them.



Boxeveris the leader in data science and omni-channel personalization solutions for airlines and
travel companies.

Boxevers Customer Intelligence Cloud enables travel marketers to build a 360

degree view of every customer and apply predictive analytics and machine learning
to automatically create personalized, one-to-one marketing experiences that lead
to higher conversion rates, increased revenue and truly differentiated customer

Boxevers platform represents a new class of enterprise IT and enables digital transformation within
airlines and travel organizations. Today, leading travel brands from all across the globe including
Emirates, Air New Zealand, eDreams ODIGEO, Cebu Pacific, Alitalia, AeroMexico, Brussels Airlines
and Aer Lingus rely on Boxever to help acquire, convert and retain customers. The company is
headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Learn more atwww.boxever.comor follow us on Twitter@Boxever.


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Find us at:
Web: www.boxever.com
Email: hello@boxever.com
Twitter: @boxever
Linkedin: boxever
Google+: boxever


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