I was looking through old some draft posts, and found this written a few months ago, but I’d forgotten about having ever written it. Whereas in 2010 I was writing a lot about social media and the travel inspiration process, this year I sense one of the key themes for airline direct is going to be data driven personalization. Here is the post that was never posted.

When I use the term buzz word it normally implies something that is over hyped, but in when it comes to personalizing the customer experience throughout the entire lifecycle of the Bow Tie Model, from beginning to end,  a but more hype could be warranted.

I’m seeing, reading and hearing of more activities that I am now grouping into the personalization bucket. You may recall I’ve mentioned before other buzz words vying for contention, but I’m becoming convinced that the personalization story has legs and the substance to really deliver on any subsequent hype. It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote a piece called Customer centricity and personalization taking center stage.

A recent press release was quoting Craig Kreeger – Senior Vice President Customer Experience, American Airlines talking about some changes they are making. The presser claims “these improvements provide site visitors a more personalized and convenient experience when searching for or booking travel on AA.com”

The Preferred Travel Interests enhancement to My Account allows AAdvantage members to select preferred Travel Destinations, Travel Products, and Travel Interests. In turn, members will receive fare alerts and special offers customized to match their selected preferences. American is the first U.S.- based airline to offer this type of customization.

And,

Include more details on their preferred travel interests, such as favorite destinations including the Caribbean,Europe and Asia, travel products including hotels and cruises, or specific travel interests including beach trips, ski vacations, and more.

CRM Daily had a story on airline ancillary revenue, and just the name of the publication gives a hint for where this is going. The story quotes ancillary revenue consultant Jay Sorensen who I’ll be seeing [shows how long ago I actually wrote this] at Horizons in San Francisco in mid October.

“This is about offering passengers options to enhance and personalize and individualize their travel,” says Tom O’Toole, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for United, who says certain options have dramatically increased passenger satisfaction.

The Beat quoted Jeremy Wertheimer from ITA as follows:

Wertheimer: Perfection is a high goal. United is not perfect, but I do appreciate being offered that exit row. There is a learning process and it will be a number of years as we transition to knowing more and more about who we are, who our customers are and being more and more personalized about them. But I certainly think it is worth the effort because to me, that $50 that they got for upselling that seat at the last minute, that is kind of found money and that is money that I am very happy to part with. To me, that is a match made in heaven. But I just want to be clear: Communication that is not wanted is sort of like harassment. You really don’t want to be harassed all the time. I absolutely agree. On the other hand, there are things that I do want to know about and so I think the challenge and the opportunity is to parse between those two.

And not just airlines, as others in the travel game (like rail) are also pushing the importance of increased personalization. Definitely a tend to watch, or even better, a trend to drive.

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