Leaders of Luxury 2019: Where is the Netflix of travel, asks Google head

Google’s industry head of travel has called for the sector to better harness digital personalisation to drive customer loyalty and boost sales.

Jayan Chauhan highlighted the “brilliant” customer profiling techniques used by the likes of Amazon and Netflix, both of which give the user tailored recommendations based on similar patterns from its subscriber data base.

Chauhan said digital personalisation had the power to accelerate customer loyalty in the travel sector, an industry where it is historically hard to capture.

“Where is the Netflix of travel where you’re actually using the data from your existing customers and looking at the trends for the rest of your customers?” he asked.

This, he added, allowed businesses "to be even more personalised with recommendations".

Chauhan cited research from social media monitoring service Digimind, which found that 69% of travellers were more loyal to brands that gave them a personal experience.

He added that while some aspects of the industry, such as reps in resorts, travel agents and concierge services, had a “very personalised feel”, travel brands were “struggling a lot more” when it came to digital.

“People will go looking for a destination first, they’re not thinking about the brand first,” he said.

“Driving and gaining [loyalty] is very hard and personalisation is absolutely one way to be doing it.”

Chauhan also urged suppliers and agents to optimise their mobile websites, claiming they were at risk of losing half of their customers if their mobile website loaded slowly.

Google itself has seen a dramatic pace of change since vowing to become “mobile first” across all platforms in 2010, when mobile made up only 1.5% of the firm’s web traffic. Today, more than 50% of all Google queries come from mobile.

“I was going to name and shame a few of you in the room today about your mobile speed but I was told I’m not allowed to,” Chauhan said.

“So go and check your mobile speed - there’s a free site we offer called Webpagetest.org.

“If your site takes more than five seconds [to load], it raises your blood pressure more than a horror movie. Please go and sort that out.”

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