Beyond Air Miles: The Importance of Guest Segmentation in Travel

December 17, 2019 Jennifer Cunningham

Air miles, and similar loyalty programmes, have long been both a covetable status symbol for consumers and a great way for airlines to reward their guests.

Travel companies shouldn’t limit themselves to just one segmentation metric. Back in the days before Avios, airmiles had thousands of guest segments and nearly every guest received their own unique quarterly mailing.

Delivering personalised, tailored, and targeted communications to consumers based on current and future value and spending habits is the ultimate holy grail for growth-hungry businesses, both in travel and retail.

A great segmentation schema enables a business to talk to guests differently depending on their value and motivations. The key is having well-defined, distinct segments so you can identify which segment a guest falls into and treat them accordingly.

There’s a myriad of segments travel companies can use, but we’ve found that the most successful businesses focus on:

  1. Booking frequency: A first-time booker should always be treated differently to a returning booker. The first booking a guest makes is a key decision point for that individual when they’re more receptive to marketing.
  2. Travel recency: A guest’s most recent booking and any upcoming bookings should always inform your communications strategy. Some guests will wait until after their holiday before booking again. Others will book multiple holidays in one fell swoop – and the data should tell you who’s who.
  3. Travel class: Are they already a business class flyer? Do they browse the upgrade pages or skip past them? Web browsing behaviour may give an indication of guests who are thinking of upgrading rooms or flights and your marketing content needs to reach those people at exactly the right time to upsell them.
  4. Holiday type: Do they only travel during school holidays? Do they typically book for 2 weeks or 2 days? How many people do they usually travel with? Travel needs are very different based on a guest’s lifestage, budget, and motivations. Knowing the answers to these questions will enable you to be much more tailored in your marketing approach.
  5. Preferences: Do they like to sit near by the window or the aisle? A balcony or garden view room? Everything about the travel a guest has booked in the past will inform what they are most likely to do in the future.

What segmentation does your business use? What would you like to use?

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