Revisiting Data and why it is a powerful tool in 2023

Earlier this year, we delved into Data; as trends moving online and mobile bookings continue to rise in 2023, it emphasises the growing significance of incorporating digital marketing and sales into your strategy for the remainder of the year.

Online booking of tours, activities, and attractions presents operators with a distinctive chance to gather valuable customer information. Leveraging accurate data and analytical tools enables a more comprehensive comprehension of customer behaviour, purchasing choices, and the ability to forecast trends.

Here’s why data can ultimately elevate your businesses and create effective strategies to change how you operate in 2023. 

Five Opportunities for Operators to Collect Data

There are various stages in marketing and sales to collect data, and the more of an online presence you have, the more opportunities you will get. Here are some options to consider:

1. Through direct bookings: Customers who book directly from your website input the required data to complete the purchase. This gives you direct access to and controls your client's information.

2. Mobile apps: These digital products collect and can track customer data and activity, including customer preferences and purchases, down to phone numbers and emails.

3. Social media: With 60% of the world’s population using social media, engaging with your audience online allows you to collect a wealth of demographic data and their interests based on what they engage with. You can also track conversions from social media posts to see which type of content drives your audience to book, which can be crucial in targeted marketing and sales efforts. (Hint: 2023 could be the year of video according to Arival’s Douglas Quinby).

4. In destination: Remember to collect information at your tour, activity or attraction, as it is the most reliable, coming straight from the travellers who have booked and turned up. As long as the data-gathering process is incentivised, engaging, and seamless, it should not impact the traveller experience. It is important to remember that not all data is created equal, and the most valuable is based on your strategy and how you use the information you get.

5. AI/tech tools: Tools like ChatGPT, for example, can collect data during the course of a conversation with a customer. The text input the customer provides is logged in its database, where you can manage and analyse the information to give you deeper insight into customer behaviour and preferences. You can also host your own automated or operated chat service on your website, allowing you to answer common questions and get a sale and collect data on what your potential customers want to know.

It is important to remember that not all data is created equal, and the most valuable is based on your strategy and how you use the information you get.

Regaining Power over Customer Data with ‘Things to do’

While collecting data is critical, the real game changer is having control over it. Previously, operators had to relinquish control over some parts of the booking and customer acquisition data when using an OTA or other ‘middlemen’. But this changed in 2022 with the introduction of Google’s ‘Things to do’ program for tours, activities and attractions. 

Registering in the program allows operators to regain power over customer data through direct booking without paying commissions on bookings or clicks. Like any online purchase, customers need to input their information and payment details to proceed with the booking. The advantage of direct booking is that the information is stored in the operator’s database, which can connect with other marketing, sales, and customer engagement tools. 

This gives operators the power to choose the information they collect and how it can be utilised in the business strategy. This could be through upsells and funnels, sending to selected partner websites for a commission or simply engaging with an additional touchpoint. But ultimately, operators get direct insight into customer behaviours.

How can you use data to improve the experience for travellers?

Collecting and controlling data's most significant impact is that it makes it possible for you to improve your customer’s experience. Their travel can be more meaningful because of how you understand them. Here are some of the best ways to do this. 

One trend that continues to be strong is the need for travellers to create once-in-a-lifetime memories. And this can only happen with authentic experiences. They want the real deal, and you can provide this level of personalisation if you have the data on their preferences or what they are looking for when travelling.

Failing to capitalise on personalisation opportunities has a severe impact, with 63% customers saying they’ll stop buying from brands that don’t offer any form of personalisation.

This is where AI, like ChatGPT, can play a significant role. The tool can analyse customer preferences and behaviour to offer personalised recommendations. By understanding a customer's travel history, budget, interests, and other factors, ChatGPT can suggest tailored destinations, activities, and itineraries. This personalised approach can help your businesses improve customer engagement and increase conversion rates.

Build loyalty and custom offers
When you offer experiences in line with and beyond their expectations, it results in brand loyalty. But this can only happen if you know what they want. It also opens up a chance to create custom offers.

Giving additional options that make their experience more meaningful is a way to build loyalty and lets you stand out from the competition. By analysing purchasing behaviour, you can create more competitive products based on what your travellers want and custom pricing to entice them to go with it.

Aside from purchase history, search and cookie data and engagement on your social media platforms can also be used as sources of customer preference. This data can allow you to create customised packages for specific customers.

Be ahead of the curve
Having this data on your customers means you can stay on top of trends and spot patterns or changes in customer behaviour ahead of time. This allows you to be proactive with marketing, product creation, and pricing rather than reactive. 

You could also use real-time data to determine when customers can visit your attraction. This lets you predict pain points and drive customers towards better time slots. This gives customers the best possible experience they can get by avoiding big crowds and long queues.

Another way to stay ahead of the curve and enhance the experience is through virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) and the metaverse. This type of next-generational technology can provide immersive virtual experiences that allow customers to explore and preview destinations before making a booking. Users can virtually visit landmarks, tourist attractions, hotels, and other points of interest. This technology enables travellers to make more informed decisions and better understand what to expect from their trips.

Resonate with your customers
Building your brand around your customers means resonating with them on what they want and how you communicate it. Social media is a great platform to create this connection. Uploading content that promotes your products and provides value at the same time not only fosters engagement but also builds trust. The same goes for promoting user-generated content.

This can help make your brand more appealing but can help you develop strategic partnerships with other local businesses to support your mutual growth. And through these partnerships, you can expand your reach to a new customer base. This gives you new opportunities for sales and business growth.

Wider online presence 
Content is a primary driver that attracts consumers, especially in social media. Aside from letting you resonate with your customers, creating engaging content travellers search for enables you to appear in more searches or recommendations on various social media platforms.

Real-time availability and more options
Giving travellers the option to book in real-time and with various options is key for flexibility, which has increased traveller preference post-pandemic. Using Livn’s API to connect your business to a global network of tours, activities and attractions means immediately expanding your reach and improving traveller experience. The result? An end-to-end reservation process that is streamlined with synchronised content and real-time accessibility and availability.

Data is no longer a necessity but a must for businesses in tours, activities and attractions because it can unlock many opportunities for sales and marketing in the new digital landscape.