By Dan Cantorna
Data is considered by many to be the oil of the 21st century. The success of any brand in today’s digital economy is ultimately dictated by its access to data and ability to interpret it. There is no question that you need to leverage your own customer data. However, brands need to go further if they are to reap the benefits of true customer satisfaction and achieve longer-term loyalty. Regardless of industry, companies need to ensure that any marketing collateral resonates with the target customer’s everyday lifestyle, and to achieve this, marketers need to understand what makes them tick on a day-to-day basis.
To help build a clearer picture of customers and their preferences, marketers can apply third-party data to first or second-party data. This will enable businesses to offer a more personalised experience throughout – and beyond – the customer journey. Perhaps one of the most valuable forms of third-party data for today’s marketers in the travel industry is OND, shorthand for ‘origin and destination’.
Origin and destination (OND)
OND data shows where a traveller has departed from and where they are travelling to, helping marketers to build a greater picture of them.
Varying from the extremely personal to the more generic, all OND data is valuable. Personalised OND data provides key insights into behavioural information, for travel searches and travel booking, if captured. Meanwhile, the broader OND data serves to uncover general travel trends, providing guidance on more effective and reach-optimised marketing communications for a range of journey-related services, from duty-free shops at the origin airport to ground transportation offers to the destination airport. Generic OND data is no different from any other segmentation or targeting data, in as much as brands need to have a good idea of why they are targeting a certain segment, what the message is, the relevance and the propensity to convert.
OND information is broken down into city pairs, by booking class, demonstrating the airline market share for each customer. This helps companies to analyse, protect and retain existing business while at the same time, targeting incremental business with incentives.
The process of collection and distribution
The majority of travellers will, at some point or another, have made a purchase in a duty-free store and dutifully handed over their boarding pass when asked at the till. Almost every shop in an airport will request this information, not for tax-related discounts as many believe, but to gain insight into shopping behaviour at the airport such as product preferences by destination, dwell time, basket bundles and category purchase sequencing, all of which can lead to more efficient and engaging store layouts and increase future sales.
Generic, non-personalised OND airline data is available to purchase from the International Air Transport Association. Alternatively, travel management companies can also purchase access to OND data from other market intelligence tools and databases and global GDS operators, such as Sabre Airline Solutions’ Market Intelligence GDD, to improve their strategy and evaluate existing or new markets. In addition, online booking tools and online travel agents (OTAs) use forms of artificial intelligence (AI) such as machine learning, to optimise their commercial outcomes based on OND data. Machine learning technologies use computers to analyse large amounts of data and reveal correlations and relationships in a very short space of time.
Unpicking the relevance
The OND data gleaned from these online booking tools, such as search requests, enables marketers to cross sell additional products to customers after purchase. For customers for whom the search didn’t end in a transaction, it provides valuable insight in terms of the destinations to upsell in the future, indicating intent and offering a clue to the most effective marketing message for a brand, moving forward.
OND data can also help marketers to improve website performance by caching the most common content for quicker response times and more predictive content. Extending beyond the customer remit, airlines utilise OND data as a major part of their business case for new route development or increased capacity to an existing destination.
Here at Collinson, as the operator of the airport lounge access and experiences programme, Priority Pass, we use this form of data to better understand and manage lounge capacity needs, defining our expansion strategy in the process. We also help our clients to shape their loyalty programmes, targeting the right customers in the right markets, based on OND data.
Conclusion – knowledge is power
As the desire to better understand consumer behaviours and deliver targeted offerings and dynamic content develops, it seems highly likely that an increasing number of brands will look to partner with airlines to acquire OND data as a second-party data point.
Today’s consumers are demanding highly personalised experiences – from the products or services suggested, to the offers and rewards given. In an era where experience is king, data such as OND is undoubtedly a smart route to the throne.
Dan Cantorna is VP Data, Insight and Technology at Collinson, a global customer benefits and loyalty company.