Friday, 27 September 2013

Socially Intelligent Travel Buying Data – are we giving enough away?

 I’m looking forward to the next phase of the travel world as the buying process begins to start a little like the Amazon/s, Google’s and eBay’s of this world – when our buying habits become logged, referred to and offered back to us.

One of my favourites is certainly EasyJet – they really know how to give you what you want – even if budget airlines sometimes get a bad reputation. Airlines on the whole are doing very clever things with online digital marketing and is inspiring us to travel, but then again they do have the budget for it – unlike the independent hotels, but what does this mean for our hotel selection and preferences and how we might have better access in the future?

As hotels catch-up with the digital act, they too are compiling the huge sums of data that we, as travelers, are providing to them. Caching our Facebook likes and interests, chasing our tweets, and recording our online purchase journey can only mean we start to see products that we like, that we want.

Yet we will too much be sold the big brands at this point, as they begin to become savvy on how we look for our travel bargains. Afterall, how can a business in the travel industry offer customer centric services and products if they don’t know what we like?

One interesting statement that Bob Barker, consultant from social technology, mentioned is the future of Google Glasses, can you imagine them on all service staff in a hotel. The staff member asks its “GGlasses” to “Recognise” us as we walk in the hotel (soon they will already know we are approaching because of our facebook habits and use of their location-serviced mobile applications). The service would be phenomenol; they know what we look like, they know why I am traveling, they know what I like, and they will know how to go the extra mile.

It would also mean that prior to booking we would have found a full hotel package that is fully tailored to our needs: a double deluxe bedroom, with full body power-shower, English breakfast, vodka and redbull in the mini bar and a map pointing to all the gay venues in the city. They know me, and they are going to give me one hell of a “stay experience”.

Obviously our biggest concern will be over Data Privacy, how will we know our data is being sensitively, that this is no Big Brother? Yet, it will be argued that we are all our own guards of our destiny – how we all look after our own personal data will be paramount. Managing your access settings across social media and with retailers. I personally clear my Cookies every few weeks, and edit my public profiles on an ongoing basis to ensure that I am keeping myself protected.

Therefore, it is important that as consumers we fully know this is the case with companies using our data. Especially that which is provided privately i.e address, credit card, passport details etc.

So watch this space – it looks like socially intelligent travel buying is coming this way.