By Travolution

October 6, 2014 03:54 PM GMT

Travel firms can build a detailed picture of customers by capturing data from those who do not make a booking, data analyst Andy Owen Jones told The Travel Network Group conference. Owen Jones, co-founder and chief executive at bd4travel (Big Data for Travel), told agency consortium delegates: “If you analyse a lot of data, behaviour can be predicted.

“Customers can tell you a huge amount by how they act. Predictive technology is like talking to your favourite, all-knowing, instant travel agent.”

In his presentation entitled ‘The Power of Prediction’, he said technology can follow people’s behaviour and searches online, then build the ‘user DNA’, reflecting what that person wants from a holiday. This can help agents to move away from a reliance on the cheapest price.

“You can pull up holiday ideas that are appropriate for them just from their clicks, even if they do not book,” he told the conference in Split.

“Moving away from price is the single biggest thing people need to do. You need to get clients to focus on their interests and the suitability of a hotel. “If a hotel is booked up, you can find a similar hotel and suggest it as available offer before they ask.” He also suggested agencies offer free Wi-Fi in their shops so agents can see what customers had been browsing.

“You can capture every interaction a customer has with your website … and you can build a picture of what people are like, anticipate their needs and predict what is suitable for them,” he said. He also talked about the “best travel agent” that he knows, who talks about events that will happen over the next three years to generate “desire-driven” rather than “offer-driven” holiday ideas. Later, in a workshop for delegates, he advised agents to develop ‘bucket list’ holiday ideas for clients, based around must-see events and places, such as the Olympics and World Cup tournaments.

His session was particularly relevant as The Travel Network Group is developing data segmentation strategies for its members’ marketing, so targeted offers are sent to customers.

“If you feed the relevant holiday options to customers, the average booking price goes up,” he added.

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