The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a consumer paradigm shift from a physical identity to a more digital one. New emerging technology and solutions are revolutionizing the hospitality and travel industries, particularly in regards to traveler’s identity management. Digital identity management has therefore a big impact on the kind of experiences a brand can bring to their customers. In order to take advantage of this new reality,  businesses must focus on how they are leveraging the information they have about their customers from their digital identity, delivering personalized experiences that are strengthened by targeted content, advertising, and relevant services. In fact, the power of personalization is so great that  “52% of people are likely to shop elsewhere if a company fails to personalize their messaging to them…and 80% are more inclined to purchase from one that provides tailored experiences.

Consumers want brands to understand what they need and make suggestions on items or experiences that are a good fit for them. If they receive things they don’t want, or they already have, it gives the impression the brand really doesn’t know them all that well. For example, “70% of millennials are frustrated with brands sending irrelevant emails and 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.” The more personal an offer is, the more successful the response will be from the customers, so much so that in 2021, 72% of customers only respond to personalized messages.

In this article, we gathered 3 key elements that, if applied, will make an impact on the business results of the hospitality and travel industry.

Knowing your customer, digitally 

When we travel, we are required to verify our identity constantly; at the airport, again at the hotel, on loyalty programs, at the car rental, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic has added vaccination status to the mix, with many countries starting to require proof for entry. To reduce the friction associated with multiple identity checkpoints, more digital options are starting to emerge that aim to increase the efficiency of identity management. 

How can businesses leverage digital identities to better know their customers? How can this information be used to explore strategic brand partnerships and automate important processes, resulting in a more defined understanding of each individual guest and a customized approach to ensuring their experience is exceptional? 

Today’s consumers expect more. They want a single sign-on experience that consistently delivers what they need when they need it, through multiple digital channels.

In order to accomplish this, it is best to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences that acknowledge the customer as an individual. This means offering the most relevant content through the most appropriate channels at the exact time the customer needs the information. This also means empowering each customer to choose exactly how they want to explore, buy, and experience the services or products associated with their stay and/or flight. 

MarTech technologies can enable digital identity capabilities as a tool for enhancement as well as discretion, making the guests feel like it’s an effortless and non-invasive personalization, when in reality, different partners, alliances, and processes are involved to make it possible. This results in tailored recommendations, promotions, or offers that can be successful up-selling or cross-selling strategies.

The Contactless (R)evolution

Using the information we have on each customer, redesigning their personal experience to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions like social distancing not only promotes the importance of each guest’s safety, but also presents new opportunities to transform services that lead to faster interactions, timely engagement, and an increase in data collected. For companies to increase the amount of data they have access to, they can rely on developing plans of action focused on special promotions or exceptional opportunities, as it’s been demonstrated that “consumers are willing to exchange data for unique deals [showing that] 57% of shoppers will share their information if they receive personalized offers.” Combining this effort, accompanied by timely digital content through push notifications, discounts, tips and recommendations, can lead to tangible results.

Digitally enabled operating models represent 60% of the long-term goals that will become a permanent change as a result of the pandemic, this includes: automation, self-service, video-based content, and other contactless solutions and tools. As a result, there will be a positive impact on brand transparency and an increase in trust from travelers. IDC predicts that “by 2024, 80% of hospitality brands will enable contactless service and payments through digital infrastructure, increasing ticket sizes and customer retention by 25% and 30% respectively.”

Introducing “Phygital” into the equation

The “Phygital” experience concentrates on harmoniously blending digital experiences with physical ones, enhancing the customer’s journey by providing benefits from both worlds: human and physical connection with digital interaction or touchpoints. 

However, to achieve a well integrated phygital proposal and strategy, businesses need to accurately bridge the gap between both areas, identifying when contactless service is best and when human support is necessary.  It’s also vital to use all the information from zero & first party data they have on their customers, to achieve an accurate management, analysis, and action plan that merges it all together:  a personalized experience during the stay and an integrative understanding of their customers.

The best way to manage and process all of this data to offer a seamless, personalized experience to each traveler requires the application of AI-enabled services, analytics, APIs integrated into robotic assistants, and Machine Learning. These technologies must be part of the company’s technological infrastructure and architecture. A strong cloud foundation and top-of-mind IT architecture for cross-functional teams needs to be included, as well as hybrid cloud and edge technologies to ensure flexibility, functionality, and scalability.

“By 2025, robotics, use of AI-powered assistants and connected guest and employee systems will increase and accelerate investment in IoT by 150% and cloud and edge platforms by 250% over forecasted levels”IDC

Conclusion

The hospitality and travel industries are ripe for reinvention as they continue on their path to recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to consider how to leverage digital identities to provide seamless, personalized, and Phygital experiences for our guests throughout their entire journey. 

Contact us today and discover how to reinvent your business to meet and exceed your goals. 

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