Four Mobile Factors Redefining the Travel Experience: Part 1

Mobile_Redefining_Travel-ThumbnailIn just a brief time, mobile devices have evolved from simple communication tools to supercomputers that can manage our entire lives. Not surprisingly, they’ve become so valuable that most of us keep them within reach at all times now, and a new central point of contact has been created for companies to reach consumers through.

With people’s need to have mobile access at all times now and with an increasing range of roaming and Wi-Fi options available, one of the many industries that this new central point of contact is upending is  travel. Today’s travelers increasingly rely on their mobile devices during their trips now, provide a wealth of data on travel patterns through their mobile devices, and want to be engaged by travel companies through their mobile devices.

From my recent work with customers in the travel sector, I’ve developed several insights on how mobile technologies are creating new opportunities to redefine travel, and in this post I would like to share four of them. More and more, I’m observing that travel companies must be prepared to use mobile to engage with consumers as never before, providing timely and hyperpersonalized information at every point of a traveler’s journey.

In this first of a two-part blog post, I outline two of four factors that I think are beginning to have a profound impact on the travel experience.

  1. Big Data – The amazing growth of big data continues to transform the way that companies can serve customers, and nowhere is this more true than through the mobile medium. To get an idea of how fast the data associated with our daily online interactions is growing, consider that, according to the most recent Cisco Visual Networking Index report, globally, Internet traffic as a whole is forecast to grow three-fold from 2013 to 2018 while, in almost the same time period, from 2014 to 2019, mobile data traffic is forecast to grow by an amazing 10-fold. As a result, I increasingly see travel companies and their partners entering a new era in which they can transform their mobile experiences with consumers through the use of greater and more detailed data. For example, airports can use anonymous subscriber data from mobile operators to get a better picture of travelers’ shopping and dining patterns before they catch their flights. Likewise, hotels can use this data to determine the most popular times of the year that people travel to particular resorts. And, of course, mobile operators can use data on how subscribers use roaming service to better tailor pricing and services in roaming offers. The application of big data is almost limitless and offers travel companies a wealth of new ways to better serve consumers.
  2. Little Data – I also see travel companies moving beyond big data to use what’s being termed “little data,” or the application of big data to serve micro-customer segments and individual users. Little data can include information on everything from where individual consumers go, to what places they go to shop, to what mobile channels they prefer. As one example, through apps and location-based services, hotels can use little data to enable and offer special services for guests when they are on a property. Some hotels, for instance, now allow guests to unlock their hotel rooms with their smartphones. When guests check in through an app, the hotel texts them their room number and then detects and activates their smartphone as a key, enabling them to bypass the front desk. Hotels can also use little data to determine the location of guests’ opted-in mobile devices to send relevant offers, such as a text message with a coupon for a free cocktail with dinner when a guest comes near the hotel restaurant. As another example, payment card companies can use the little data of geolocation to verify that a card user’s mobile phone is at the same place as a purchase. On this front, Syniverse recently joined forces with MasterCard to deliver these enhanced payment security services for consumers traveling abroad. Consider a scenario, for instance, when a traveler at a department store in a foreign country attempts to buy a handbag. At checkout, when the card transaction is initiated, the traveler’s bank detects that a purchase is being attempted outside her home country. Often, this could result in the transaction being declined and the customer having a frustrating and embarrassing customer experience. She may have to pull out another card to complete the transaction or even use cash to pay. Now, though, this kind of “false positive” transaction denial can be avoided by asking customers to opt in to a geolocation service, which can use the customer’s global mobile phone location information as an additional piece of information to authorize a card transaction. We see great potential in these new services, and we think they will go a long way toward providing peace of mind for consumers traveling abroad as well as further personalizing the mobile experience.

In part two of this post, I’ll build on how big data and little data are changing the travel experience with two other important factors – privacy and mobile engagement. In the meantime, I would love to get your thoughts on the uses of big and little data. What do you think are some of the most important ways that travel companies will be able to make use of big and little data?

Click here to go to part two of this post.

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Paul Kingsbury is a former Business Development Director at Syniverse.

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