Little Data Equals Big Results for Travel Marketers

While the caging of big data by business and government is everywhere in the news lately, it is the use of little data that can generate great results for smart travel marketers.  When used properly, destinations, lodging establishments and service providers can utilize the personalized information coming from their consumers to maximize the results of their communication efforts, while enhancing the customer’s experience.

For the sake of clarity, we define “big data” as the aggregate consumer information on purchase behavior, web usage, media preferences and other demo/psycho-graphic data. “Little data” is the small, unique preferences that travelers share with us, such as what newspaper they receive, what kinds of restaurants they prefer, do they love to run while traveling – so, it would be great if we provide them with a recommended map of running trails in the area.  Another way to think about it is that big data is all about the enterprise in general, while little data is all about the customer.

Many customers are willing to share personal information if they believe it will benefit them. “40% or more of travelers are willing to share personal information as long as it will improve their experience,” according to travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt of Hudson Crossing.

In addition to this shared information, every single interaction we have with that customer is providing us with valuable data.  When they first come to your site, sophisticated CMS (Content Management Systems) platforms capture the referring site, page visits, time on page and where they go to next.  If this customer is recognized via past purchase or site visits we can begin to tailor the information being served up to match with their personal interests.  In addition, special events or offers on the schedule that would interest this consumer can be automatically communicated to them.

While no two consumers are exactly alike, as you acquire data on a large number of people there will be segments that will have very similar backgrounds, likes and interests that can be matched up.  For this, we recommend the development of multiple personas by which to communicate with your customers.  However, always make sure that your outbound messaging to the persona groups is specific to their interests.  Little data is all about a more personalized and enjoyable experience for your customers that builds a strong sense of brand loyalty.

In essence, the use of little data is a sophisticated, technologically driven form of 1:1 marketing.  Just remember that the information that you provide must be relevant to the specific interests that your customers have shared with you.  Be sure to demonstrate that you are listening to what your customers tell you.  Also, there can be a fine line between cool and creepy when it comes to the use of little data.  Before hitting the send button, always do a gut check on yourself to make sure you don’t fall into the dreaded creeper territory.