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Personalizing Experiences For The Changeable Traveler

Personalizing Experiences For The Changeable Traveler Jeff Hasen
In the world of advertising, one offers up a Snickers bar to solve the problem of “you not being you when you're hungry".

In real life, it’s not grumpiness and an empty stomach that gets in the way of those marketing travel. Instead, it’s the fact that specific motivations call for different decisions. That has the likes of Expedia SVP and Chief Marketing Officer David Doctorow grappling to deliver personalization to a changeable individual.

“After years of trying to crack the mobile code, I would say that it is a fairly humbling battle that we’re fighting,” Doctorow said recently in a Seattle Mobile Mixers event tied to my The Art of Mobile Persuasion book (artofmobilepersuasion.com). “Whatever expectations we had going into 2015 are pretty irrelevant. This game keeps on changing and it makes it a ton of fun.

“One of the things that we’ve really learned over the last year is that you are not always you. When we’re traveling to a business trip in Dallas or in Columbus, Ohio, there are certain things that we might be looking for in a trip. We may want to stay where our meeting is. Maybe we have a budget that we need to operate to. Time probably really matters. Serving up an experience that delivers on that moment is important. But, by contrast, if we are going with our families to Mexico for a beach vacation, there are very, very different things that we’re looking for.”

Doctorow, whose insights are throughout my book, is keen on following signals sent by an individual.

“When it comes to shopping, for these two different trips, we’re probably going to go about it very differently,” he explained at the Mobile Mixers gathering. “If I’m shopping for that business trip, I want to pull out my phone and I want to get the job done. I don’t want to be spending a lot of time on booking. But if I’m shopping for a beach vacation for my family that I might take once or twice a year, I’m going to start in the morning maybe when I’m standing in line waiting for my coffee. I’m going to browse around. Then I’m going to go home that night, and I’m going to lean back on the couch with my tablet and I’m probably going to have my wife next to me and we’re going to look at the options. It may take us a little while and eventually we’ll book on the desktop.

“The price of entry is when I go back on that tablet, when I go back to book on that desktop, we (Expedia) have to recognize who the traveler is, what it is that they care about, and what they were shopping for. If we don’t do that, we’re betraying them and we can’t possibly expect them to be loyal to us. I think the game-changer in 2015 is that that becomes the price of entry rather than a nice to have.”

Expedia is seeking to differentiate in part through what it calls Scratchpad, a tool that remembers searches regardless of the device that a logged-in visitor is on.

Also, Expedia is changing not just the mindset but the job description of many within its organization.

“Mobile in 2016 must become everyone’s job,” he said. “If you go back a year or two ago, there was a mobile team. There is no such thing in 2016 as a mobile team. Mobile is the whole team. That mindshift has to happen and it needs to be accompanied with real behavior changes, real goals changes, real process changes.

“Mobile measurement and cross-device measurement is no longer a nice to have in 2016. If we don’t get this right, it is a serious problem. 2016 is the year that it must be cracked. It is easy to say, but to get it right, is going to be a lot of different things. It’s going to be about data and collecting the right data. It’s going to be about using analytics to determine connections across that data. It’s going to be testing things. All of these things together are going to lead us to make smarter, better capital allocation decisions.”

And hopefully better ways to satisfy the changeable traveler.

Jeff Hasen is one of the leading strategists, evangelists and voices in mobile.  Companies benefiting from his talents have landed on Wired’s list of most innovative entities on Earth and been named pioneers and the early leader in the...

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