Adobe Digital Dialogue

March 16, 2017 /Digital Marketing /

Digital maturity in the Travel and Hospitality sector

The trav­el sec­tor was among the ear­ly adopters of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy, ensur­ing it could meet the needs of tech-smart and social-media-savvy trav­el­ers. The dis­rup­tion aris­ing from dig­i­tal-only com­pa­nies such as online trav­el agen­cies, along with the “shar­ing” econ­o­my (think Uber, Airbnb), mean trav­el com­pa­nies need to evolve their dig­i­tal offer­ings con­tin­u­al­ly to adapt to fre­quent changes.

In this series analysing the new Adobe report, Four Essen­tials Ele­ments for Dig­i­tal Matu­ri­ty (2016), I recent­ly looked at the retail indus­try, com­par­ing play­ers that were born dig­i­tal with tra­di­tion­al bricks-and-mor­tar retail­ers. In the trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty indus­try there is sim­i­lar­ly a vast dif­fer­ence between online and offline busi­ness­es – par­tic­u­lar­ly in the air­line sec­tor, where the tra­di­tion­al play­ers may have been slow to start, but some are now lead­ing dig­i­tal dis­rup­tors.

The Adobe report high­lights four foun­da­tion­al areas for dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty: data-dri­ven mar­ket­ing, cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, mobile, and cross-chan­nel mar­ket­ing.

Adobe and Econ­sul­tan­cy also released a joint report, Dig­i­tal Trends in the Trav­el and Hos­pi­tal­i­ty Sec­tor, in Decem­ber 2015, sub­stan­ti­at­ing the industry’s matu­ri­ty.

• More than a third of com­pa­nies (35%) in this sec­tor clas­si­fy them­selves as “dig­i­tal dis­rup­tors”, and a fur­ther 48% describe their organ­i­sa­tions as “fast fol­low­ers”. Com­pa­nies in Europe are more like­ly to feel threat­ened by dig­i­tal than their coun­ter­parts in North Amer­i­ca.
• The sec­tor as a whole has made good progress in the jour­ney to dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty, with 43% of respon­dents say­ing their organ­i­sa­tions have a “cen­tral, inte­grat­ed func­tion ded­i­cat­ed to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion”.

There are many par­al­lels between the trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor and the four foun­da­tion­al areas for dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty.

Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence

Trav­el com­pa­nies seek to dif­fer­en­ti­ate through their cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, espe­cial­ly by blend­ing the phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal worlds. Of the com­pa­nies sur­veyed, the top pri­or­i­ty was grow­ing the trav­eller or guest base, with cus­tomer expe­ri­ence a key focus area for cus­tomer acqui­si­tion and reten­tion.

• “Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence” is the area where com­pa­nies are most like­ly to be focused in the con­text of devel­op­ing their dig­i­tal capa­bil­i­ties over the next 12 months.
• More than a third (38%) of respond­ing com­pa­nies say they are com­mit­ted to the use of dig­i­tal at their phys­i­cal loca­tions while a fur­ther 26% say they have car­ried out pilots.


Of course trav­ellers wide­ly use their mobile devices to con­nect online and offline expe­ri­ences seam­less­ly; for exam­ple, they can use a QR code on their mobile device as an air­line board­ing pass. Trav­el com­pa­nies have real­ly grasped the impor­tance of mobile and we’ve seen a stronger focus on this than in any oth­er indus­try.

• Respon­dents are most like­ly to say that mobile’s most impor­tant func­tion is for cus­tomer ser­vice, though it also plays a vital role in dri­ving both acqui­si­tion and cus­tomer loy­al­ty, as well as in oper­a­tional ful­fil­ment.
• 41% of com­pa­nies agree that they are “mobile-first” organ­i­sa­tions, and almost two-thirds (63%) say that they have bud­gets specif­i­cal­ly allo­cat­ed to mobile exper­i­men­ta­tion over the next 12 months.

Data-dri­ven, cross-chan­nel mar­ket­ing

The trav­el indus­try, espe­cial­ly air­lines, often oper­ate on razor-thin mar­gins. So any oppor­tu­ni­ty to bet­ter under­stand the cus­tomer or pro­vide a bet­ter ser­vice, upsell, cross-sell or add an ancil­lary prod­uct is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase that mar­gin. Strong data ana­lyt­ics strate­gies per­me­ate this indus­try so it can pin­point where the cus­tomer is in their dig­i­tal jour­ney and pro­vide them with the right infor­ma­tion at the right time in the right con­text, irre­spec­tive of chan­nel.

• Three-quar­ters (75%) of respond­ing com­pa­nies say they have a data ana­lyt­ics strat­e­gy, but a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion (44%) of these say that this strat­e­gy isn’t mul­ti­chan­nel. Com­pa­nies in North Amer­i­ca are more like­ly to have a data ana­lyt­ics strat­e­gy.
• The vast major­i­ty of com­pa­nies (82%) say they are attempt­ing to build a 360-degree view of cus­tomers in order to com­mu­ni­cate to them more effec­tive­ly.

The trav­el sec­tor is a leader in dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty and I invite you to down­load the new Adobe report, Four Essen­tials Ele­ments for Dig­i­tal Matu­ri­ty, for more detail and in-depth analy­sis. I also encour­age you to join con­ver­sa­tion and share your per­spec­tive: @rigbyscott

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