– Personalization & Customer Analytics


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Being a great fan of the simplicity and hotel rates that I consistently hear about, I recently logged into it to book hotels for an official trip. It was after a long time that I was booking my own hotel and was pleasantly surprised to find additional features of “Wish lists” and “Personalization” on this travel site. With great enthusiasm I added “Paris” as one of my favourite destinations under ‘Personalization’ but to my horror I started receiving offers for hotels in Paris in my email-inbox twice a week, every week, since. It frustrated me to the point that I ultimately started marking emails from as ‘junk mail’. Profile Profile

Big question – where’s the customer analytics required to process such sophisticated information?


When I marked something as my favourite destination, I did not expect

1. To assume that I wanted to stay there next week itself (or every week thereafter)

2. To assume that I would be happy receiving any standard offers on hotels in Paris and not something specific to my needs. It did say ‘Personalization’, right?


Personalisation attempts without associated analytics are bound to create more issues than solutions. Different individuals may have different interpretation of the word ‘Favorite Destination’. Some young folks may have 50-60 favourite destinations but someone who is older, a family man with very little free time on his hands (like myself) may be more exclusive in his choice of favourite destinations. I aspire to travel to may be 5, maximum 10 destinations in the next few years – at least for leisure. Which brings the aspect of ‘reason’ for travel – business or pleasure? Without the ability to process all these attributes of customer profile – age, preferences, budget, etc. and attributes of travel profile– reason (business/leisure), alone/with-friends, type (adventure, family, historical), no travel company would be able to accurately address the customer needs. Hence analytics must form the core engine of any personalisation, not just information. And the level of analytics – predictive, responsive or otherwise would then depend on the extent of customer engagement desired by the travel organisation.

Social Media integration

I am a strong proponent of use of social media to better understand customers. For e.g. does not use OAuth to help me link my profile with my LinkedIn profile and/or my Facebook profile. So it is neither aware of my personal preferences nor my professional attributes. It is attempting to create a personalised offer for me without investing time and effort in getting to know me better. Tripadvisor here has a distinct advantage over other players in the travel industry given its integration with social media and intelligent use of that integration.

Personalization and ExperiencePersonalization and Experience

Overnight versus Overtime

This brings me to the final point – overnight and overtime. Travel companies should take time to understand their customers – overtime, not just overnight. With more information about the customer, perform more predictive analytics, leading to more personalised offers giving rise to higher quality of overall customer experience. And therefore increase their engagement overtime – both in terms of frequency as well as quality. Revenue, profits and other financial benefits would then easily follow. Receiving bi-weekly emails from seemed very odd to me, given that it had not spent sufficient time to learn about me and presumed that I would have travel requirements of such a high frequency (to Paris). Why would I need to learn about travel offers twice a week when I travel twice a year (in a good year)?

Personalisation is all about getting to know your customers. It can only happen overtime with investments of time and effort. It is just like any other relationship. My two cents to companies – don’t be presumptuous of what a customer wants unless you are sure to a reasonable degree of certainty. Use technology, information, analytics and social media to establish that high degree of certainty. Till then don’t say something is ‘personalized’ when it really is not. What do you think?

Abhishek Singh
Currently, Abhishek holds the responsibility for conceptualizing, implementing and managing the IT product strategies for Infosys subsidiary, EdgeVerve, in the Digital space. Prior to this, several years at Singapore Airlines as well as his years of entrepreneurship ingrained in him the importance of customer experience.


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