Kevin May hosted a panel of industry leaders to discuss what personalization for hotels and hospitality is in the current Digital Media. The panel included Charlie Osmond of Triptease, Nancy Rademaker of Nexxworks, Antonio Figueiredo of Salesforce and Gary Mayger of PROS. This blog summaries salient points and the insights of the discussion.
What is Personalization for Hotel Guests?
Kevin – Personalization is a powerful tool where a company knows what you want to buy before you even thought about it. What do you think it is?
Charlie – Hoteliers do personalization very well, every day, all the time, in a face-to-face way.
Example: On arriving at this hotel, a concierge noted I had no suitcase and was looking around. He asked: “are you attending an event?” – Perfect personalization.
Much of the time, we may try to sell a room when they want to know where to go for a pint. Different people have different needs and you should treat them in different ways.
Tony – People are trying to get more and more connected. You need to be in front of them for every step of the journey: Pre-stay, The Trip, The Stay, Post-Stay.
If you only connect when they are in the hotel, it’s too late.
It’s about the mindset of the experience – from the inspiration to completion of the journey and return.
Garry – It’s about interpretation of needs based on behavior. Then ensure friction-less delivery of recommendations instantly. The most important piece is that it has to be friction-less.
Nancy – Unlearning old patterns is where we fall short. Unlearning is about being open to new experiences and getting in touch with the people who are experiencing with you.
Understand what the Chinese want. It’s a massive new customer group that we know little about. We need to get out there and experiment.
Charlie– Go to your coffee shop and ask people to book your hotel. You will be amazed. We send our designers out to interview and interact with people who may use our product.
When is Personalization Most Effective?
Kevin – What phase of the buying cycle does personalization work best in?
Garry – People don’t wait anymore. Get the offer right at every phase.
Tony – Ask, “have you stayed with us before?”, when they first inquire. We miss that too often and it’s very powerful if you know they have and can gain access to their information. Repeat clients are high-value and the highest value customers get different treatment.
Charlie – Lifetime value of your client is the key, not just what the value is on this occasion! It’s at the beginning that it really counts. Get the offer right at every stage, starting with the first step.
Tony – Sell at ever stage. Sell Earlier – Sell Relevantly – Sell Direct – Sell More.
Who is Most likely to Succeed and Benefit From it?
Kevin – Are OTAs in a better chance of winning in personaliztion because they have so much data?
Nancy – The Chinese because they have one integrated centralized system. In China, precision marketing is at the next level as it’s all on the same platform.
Charlie – OTAs have a good chance of winning / profiting as they have the data. But Google could really nail it. They use info in your emails to personalize your recommendations.
Garry – Content must be bookable and the offer must be trusted. What I see is what I get. You must get it right the first time and every time.
We are missing this a lot in the very segmented data and get it wrong too many times.
Is Creepiness an Issue?
I.e., is their too much access to personal information and prying?
Garry – I don’t worry about it. I think it’s a very low risk. People’s imagination is far greater that the reality.
Nancy – My daughters, who are in their early 20’s, don’t care what you do so long as it helps them.
Tony – The sharing economy around data is going to get more and more evolved. Just watch how it’s going to be nudged up. Creepy is not an issue if it helps and adds value.
Garry – For my Dad, everything is creepy but my 19-year-old son will just go for it.
Millennial’s don’t care and they are the future!
More To Watch and Hear
The discussion went far deeper than this summary. I just pulled out bits that resonate with me. It goes on to discuss Amazon, which everyone says is going to be a challenge. But no one knows quite how and when. Remember: they tried before and gave up, so next time, they must get it right… maybe with an acquisition.See the Webinar here
For more on Personalization and Artificial Intelligence and Behavior Responsive systems see:
In the last few months there has been great excitement in personalization of the holiday experience with major hotel chains adopting mood matchmaker.Travel personality based pairing. Even the OTAs have moved into the arena – Expedia declared it as the new frontier for travel bookings. AirBnb is testing its own version of mood matching. Both offer news ways of pairing hotel and holiday experiences to travelers who are looking for a custom made vacation that fits their very special needs and character.
Marriott hotel and AccorHotels have both adopted the approach or are experimenting with it. It makes sense as travelers today are looking for experiences that fit their mood and their personality and the old ways of finding hotel by location, price and amenities does little to fulfill their expectation.
Psychology Applied to Travel By Professional Psychologist
Its interesting to note that the early users of personalization based on mood and personality have not developed the solution themselves but outsourced it to established psychological and personality branding companies. Pioneers in developing this technology are companies such as Travelsify, Traitify and PersonaHolidays. (See comparison at MatchMaket.Travel).
All are using different approaches in finding a different way to personalize holiday vacations. They are moving on from search based on amenities alone to make search a more enlighten experience in tune with what travelers are really looking for: A personal Experience.
Amenities Take a Back Seat to Mood Matching Experiences
Amenities are not what travelers dream of and they do not describe the experience. To fulfill dreams hotel search needs to understand the psychology of the traveler and predict their travel aspirations. The new personalization solution know this and have unique and innovative ways to create personal vacation experiences that resonate with the psyche.
Travelsify has studies reviews of hotels to establish a set of words that travelers use to describe their stay at a hotel. The words are travel experience specific terms that reflect the cultural variances in hotel perception. They include words one would expect like nightlife, gourmet and luxury. But not so typical are vintage, classic, zen and spacious. Words that you may find in in guest reviews and yet are seldom used in hotel search engines, booking systems and holiday planning. It makes absolute sense to use these emotional preferences in holiday planning and in selecting your preferred holiday experience. This is the approach that AccorHotels in using in their Mood Matchmaker.
PersonaHolidays has a different matchmaker.travel strategy although many of the same words that are used in the Travelsify solution are also part of the PersonaHolidays personalization. However, they are not overt. Instead each hotel undergoes a professional persona branding assessment that create its own unique character and matchwords. Travelers are assessed by an inference engine that monitors every interaction and established their travel persona by inference. The hotel holiday experience and traveler are matched by the matchwords (emotional triggers) associated with each.
We will see more personality based search solutions in the future as personalization is a key trend and need in travel. Interestingly the opportunity is creating new startups with skills and experience based in psychological assessment, motivation and visualization using highly adaptive technology that will work with established systems.
It’s a treat to hear Mark Okerstrom say Personalization is the next frontier. We know he’s right on target with outstanding results from our pioneering application PersonaHolidays.com. It has increased engagement and call-to-action by 300% – check this video >>
It’s now installed as an active live app for the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia. We have discussions well under way for several Canadian applications and we’re in discussions with a global new age OTA. We’ll keep you posted on this exciting venture. https://www.tnooz.com/article/expedia-ceo-mark-okerstrom-on-dara-expedias-culture-global-growth/#comment-4896777
Here is What Expedia Said:
Tnooze – What are your personal and professional thoughts on personalization and the road ahead to get better at matching offers to people and provide more targeted services to customers across all your brands?
“Honestly, I think it’s a huge opportunity. It’s the next big thing potentially”.
Paraphrasing his comments, he tells us: The first wave of online travel evolution, or revolution, was about making the dull text-based green screen of the travel agents more engaging and opening them up to travelers.
But that is where we still are, he adds.
Where we need to go is back to the 70s and 80s, when travel agents knew where you stayed and, “they knew what type of hotels you liked and they knew where you like to go in the summer and where you like to go in the winter. And they could already tailor their offering to you.”
Expedia is not quite there yet, but they can beat anyone!
It is a race between man and machine and man is still winning. He adds that, because of Expedia’s size, capabilities and vast data, They can do this “better than anyone else in the industry”!
We Shall See…
None of the OTAs have made any significant strides toward true personalization. They have studied data to exhaustion but have failed to understand personality.
It seems to me that understanding data and personality are different skill sets. You need to work with physiologists who have already defined the concept of PersonaBranding. Every hotel must be branded in this way.
New Suite of Technology Needed
PersonaHolidays is a suite of technology that includes the application that travelers see and that helps them make the right choices based on nuances and not just location, price and amenities.
It requires a PersonaBranding technology and a travel matchmaker engine, as in http://Matchmaker.travel. Once branded, the matchmaker interfaces the inference engine and the brand personality to create the right match.
You must built an inference engine that translates every interaction into Matchwords and travel personas that can be matched back to hotels. This is an entirely different and separate approach to the PersonaBranding. But the two are tightly linked with numerous databases that are evaluating and perfecting the cross references and ultimate matches.
Nuclear Search It requires a new Search and Compare system that is immediate, visual and insightful. These systems have been used in nuclear and chemical sciences using organic algorithms that provide ultra fast search, filtering and matching.
A Total Departure From the Way Things Are! These system are unlike anything used in travel. It requires intelligence that looks for indicators of compatibly and contrary indicators that together validate the overall ‘right fit’ in an evolutionary process.
In PersonaHolidays the result is stunning interactions with pages that dance in immediate response to every click at the speed of thought!
PersonaHolidays is a technology that can be added to any tourism destination marketing site, as well as the sites of hotel and tourism associations, hotel chains, and city and travel marketing agencies. It is being licensed to the Barbados Tourism Authority with several other contracts now underway.
The PersonaHolidays application may also be set up as a 3rd-party marketing site for any interested party.
Tnooz just reported that the startup Travelsify has been selected by AccorHotels to add mood matching to its hotel search and trip planning. It is a sign of the times, where hospitality suppliers have started to recognize that Travel is all about the experience and that the product has more to do with emotion than the cut-and-dried check boxes for amenities, place, price and features. It’s also a result of the dramatic rise of Artificial Intelligence and smart systems as well as the growing understanding of how psychology influences travel planning.
The Travelsify startup has raised €2 million in seed funding from angel investors and the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy to build the system now used by AccorHotels and a total of 300,000 hotels in all. The funding and the partnership with Accor demonstrates that persona matching technology has grown up and is now center stage as an alternative to traditional search for hotels and holiday experiences.
Marriott Hotels also got more personal with its persona quiz announced recently. It too confirms that hotel personality matching is now mainstream and not just a fun sideline to holiday planning. In fact, we believe that it is the future of Search in Travel.
Technology Pioneered by RealHolidays in 1999
This is not new and AccorHotels and Marriott are by no means the first mood matching solutions. The technology was pioneered a decade ago by RealHolidays, the precursor to the hotel personality matchmaker and PersonaHolidays. That project is now FascinatingTravelers by pairing them with hotels and holiday experiences that match their personality.
Actually it is a little more in-depth than that; the engine behind it is firstly a system that brands hotel by personality. On the other end is the Matchwords Engine that takes those personalities traits and generates the travel persona words that fit the hotel personality. And it matches travellers with holiday experiences by predicting who they are based on what they do.
Persona Inference Engine Predicts Personality/Mood
PersonaHolidays for Fascinating Travelers is different to any other mood matcher, including how AccorHotels’ Travellers searches hotels by mood, in that travellers do not have to select a mood at all. The PersonaHolidays Inference Engine is actively at work with every user interaction to infer the travellers’ persona based on their activity.
The travellers’ persona is then matched with hotels and experiences. The expert system understands that every hotel offers a unique experience and that Travel is about experiences, not about products and, at the same time, appreciates that location, place, amenities and proximity are all important. It goes one step further by predicting mood and personality based on every user interaction.
PersonaHolidays and its underlying Personality Fascinating Technology understands the meaning behind travellers’ choices. Amenities and location are still important but more and more travellers are looking for a holiday that matches who they are, and Persona does that.
A separate search option is also available to let the system find one’s personality based on selecting personality preferences.
The PersonaHolidays approach is the result of 10 years of experience with the RealHolidays Hotel Matchmaker. It includes all the lessons learned in building the first Inference Engine for Travel. The Inference Engine facilitates personality matching by interpreting every user’s interaction in terms of its underlying motivation. Our personality matching expert system learns from all that a traveller is doing on the site and especially what they are looking at. It understands the traveller’s persona and the characteristics that best match that personality.
Of course, the Inference Engine is just one part of the system. It helps define the traveller but matching that with a hotel requires also knowing the personality of each hotel. For that the system uses the premier personality branding assessment tools in the industry. Each hotel is classified by a professional team that takes the hoteliers through a thorough assessment to uncover their personality and their Point of Fascination. The assessment is done for the managers/owners and for the brand itself.
Lightening Fast Search, Filtering & Visual Display
Most importantly, the technology is unparalleled in speed and insight, using advanced filtering and visual displays that simply jump off the screen. See the nuclear fast hotel search, filtering and pairing in the video below –
Notice the nuclear explosively fast, intuitive filtering and paring!! This innovation technology is not used in any hotel search or booking site anywhere other than in personaholidays. It was developed by Kathy Lynn Ward COO of the team behind Persona Holidays and is based on techniques used in chemical and nuclear algorithms. It is designed for the rigors of nuclear and chemical need for massive filtering, matching and pairing.
Nuclear hotel search and pairing is a new breed of generic algorithm design for engineering information where the parts are dynamic, evolving and exponential! Like nuclear fusion and human personality – with a million combinations of DNA!
Building on the Uniqueness of Each Hotel
PersonaHolidays matching systems understand what makes a hotel truly special. This comes from years of testing and aligning the systems with personal knowledge, brand psychology assessment and feedback from real guests. We have tracked thousands of travellers and correlated hundreds of matchwords with personality assessment to create a spot-on pairing experience for travellers.
Watch the video (above) to the end and you will be able to request a consultation and apply for details on the licensing for your market.
Millennial (born between 1981-1997) are the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality industry, and by 2005 they will account for 50 per cent of all travelers.
Much has been done to understand this market segment and how they research, engage and book. All point to a shift to digital media. American Express survey recently found that more than 72 % of Millennial travelers prefer to spend money on experiences than things.
As they say “millennials redefine luxury experiences”. They love to travel to discover and experience! “Quality and time off are top priorities, so they are willing to splurge on luxury.” They are about to redefine luxury experiences & marketing. The article by e-hotelier concludes that to Millennials requires “a strong emphasis on empathy and personal customer connection.” Social media is a vital part now of any marketing to this sector and should be used to engage, build trust, loyalty and community.
“Millennials get much of their news online, through blogs and whatever pops up when they are surfing the internet and especially Facebook. In addition, they pay attention to mainstream top tier media like Conde Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Those carry tremendous influence. The stories that appear online from such outlets are highly valued by Google, and indexed at the top of a search.” Articles published on the authority sites are highly influential and also create backlinks that are invaluable.
We have noted before how important experiences are becoming and this article empathizes the need to create personal experiences.
Lorraine has had a 30 year, award-winning, boutique travel PR firm in New York City and is at the forefront of trends affecting traditional and digital media. Her firm has represented such blue-chip names as Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels, as well as boutique properties across the globe and island destinations including St Barth’s and Necker. The agency’s affordable hotel PR and digital campaigns are designed to move the needle regularly gaining eye-catching feature exposure in such top outlets as The New York Times, Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. For more information about this boutique New York City PR firm visit www.AbelowPR.com. You can contact her at Lorraine@AbelowPR.com or 203-226-9247.
In the latest news by PersonaHolidays, The company has reached out to HowToFascinate.com with a new partnership that is Fascinating Travelers. Here is the latest YouTube video that demonstrates the lightening fast pace at which the PersonaHolidays App matches travelers with hotels and delivers personal recommendations based on personality.
The news of how PersonaHolidays Taps HowToFascinate in FascinatingTravelers Technology is featured across the internet and in Travel Magazines like Travel Weekly. It is also featured in Prime Time news media like ABC News and here (below) in SiliconVallley financial news section.
As the Press Release explains: The new PersonaHolidays App that drives the Fascinating Travelers solution is making trip planning, fun, engaging and much more personal. Its also the only Travel Planning app that assesses a travelers persona without having them do any form of test or assessment. Personalized travel today is not about personal attention (like having a travel agent or call center), and it is not about adding travelers name and city etc. Personalization in 2017 is about using artificial intelligence and behavior analysis. It includes rapid response and advanced filtering to infer the personality of a travel shopper that fits for their individual character.
In creating the FascinatingTravelers Technology PersonaHolidays has Partnered with Sally Hogsheads’ HowToFascinate.com personality branding systems and assessments. Hotels in the channel need to complete the aseesment in order to get the full benefits of the brand marketing and hotel matching. . The Archetype is then analyzed by the Personal Hotel MatchMaker engine which assigns the variables used in creating the travel personas. Each traveler is quietly assesses based on their choices and actions on the website. Everything they do is a trigger to who they are. “We have a massive database of actions and triggers” says Ian R Clayton CEO of the company who have built the technology.
Persona goes to work as soon a travelers enters the website and everything they do is analyzed and assessed in creating a unique id for each visitor. This is the matched to hotels and travel options that have been pre-assigned matchwords based on the hotel assessment.Hotels complete a 30 minute questionnaire with a team member who guides them through the process and helps establish the brand archetype.
PersonaHolidays FascinatingTravelers Technology taps HowToFascinate as Venture Partner
Lightening Fast Interactive Technology Engages Travelers