Online advertising, and more specifically digital marketing, is going through a massive shift. If the past 10 years were about figuring out the average visitor to your site and catering to him, the next 10 will be about understanding each and every customer, and catering personalized products and services to each individual in real-time.

With the right technology, travel portals don’t have to wait for 99 unique users who churn to find one who will buy. If they can focus on the potential customers they already have – the ones visiting their website, that is – and create a great experience for them, they can successfully convert and retain them. And this is particularly true for the travel industry, historically plagued with a fragmented yet abundant offering that tends to overwhelm potential customers. Let’s take a look at a real life situation to understand how.

Imagine a classic holiday scenario: A family goes to a lovely place in a warm country and gets ready for dinner. They walk to the nearest square, where there are dozens of restaurants.  Each one has a very similar outlook, menu, and prices, as they source their goods from a limited range of suppliers.  The square is packed with waiters pointing the family to their restaurant as they walk by, and shouting out information about their daily specials and more. The family stops in front of one restaurant and glances over a pizza menu. Within seconds, the pizzeria’s waiter starts following the family around the square telling them about his several pizza specials.

The family continues a bit further and after getting tired of trying to choose, they settle in the restaurant that shouted the loudest – conversion, you’d argue. Neighboring restaurants enviously look at their competitor who’s already taking the food order, and they wonder what they did better. They were offering the same products, but that restaurant shouted louder or faster, and hence won over the customer first.

But what about the customer and his experience? The family felt pressed to pick from similar looking options which didn’t really suit their needs, because the restaurants are looking to cater to what they think the average tourist wants for dinner. Today, there are new digital products available that let brands meet their consumers actual needs, without resorting to the average best.

Imagine the same family in the same warm holiday destination going out for dinner. The husband is pushing a pram with his sixteen months old son, and the wife is holding her three year old daughter’s hand. They start walking through the square, and pass by a few restaurants. The woman spends a few seconds on an appealing menu at one restaurant, takes a look at pizzas and then glances over a salad section of the menu, a sign that she might be looking for vegetarian dishes. Picking up on that, one of the waiters steps closer and kindly highlights the restaurant’s vegetarian selection as well as adds the kids menus and a fine selection of different options the husband might be interested in, as he is squinting to the steakhouse across the street.

What if there was such a place, where rather than all restaurants recklessly calling out for your attention, they would take a few moments to observe their potential customer’s behavior, and all the signals that they are giving out simply by searching for a product or service?  The family would get a great service and a delicious meal for a reasonable price, and want to return.

There are ways to apply this online and cross-channel with agents. Today, with the right technology supporting your platform, you can have exactly the data you need, already curated  to create a great experience for your customer. Listen to the visitors that are already on your portal, and you can give them a great experience and help them find the products and services they are looking for.

By actively observing and interpreting individual users’ signals from the very first moments (like the waiters did) it’s possible to understand their needs and create a profile for each customer that fits him or her rather than the average user. This profiling, in turn, helps you predict what your individual customers want, and respond with appropriate offers.

The online travel industry has only scratched the surface of what real time digital empathy can do to fix the broken experience that customers encounter when searching for travel options online. bd4travel is on a mission to make that happen, and to bring online travel purchase to a level of excellence, intuition and brilliant precision that only digital empathy can provide.

Drop us a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions. We’d love to hear from you.

Andy Owen-Jones, CEO and co-Founder