Personalisation in travel search: inspiration, the momondo way

Momondo has always sought to differentiate itself with not only better metasearch but also more inspiring metasearch. This is a distinctly personal topic for us, as well as a broader discussion point for the industry.

NB This is a viewpoint by Pia Vemmelund, managing director for momondo.

In the first article in this series we examined how travel metasearch brands approach inspiration when designing their customer journey and user experience, and how it relates to personalisation and brand loyalty in a space where commoditisation and pure price factors would seem to dominate the user-brand relationship.

This time, we will focus more closely on the inspirational content and engagement techniques used to achieve that goal.

Carefully crafted and curated content, working in concert with engaging user tools, plays a critical role in defining and enhancing our ongoing relationship with every user. We want to make sure that we always inspire the user, whether they go on to book a flight or holiday experience or not.

If we add value to and improve their experience, we know they will return to us in the future.

Getting in the mood

Inspiration, mindset and emotion are clearly intertwined – but the link to cold hard data is not always so clear.

Travellers present a conundrum as they are all individuals, with different personas, motivations, need states and expectations — all of which are influenced by the passage of time, culture, maturity, environment and a host of other factors. A trip to Barcelona will mean different things to different people at different times of their life. Data will only tell us so much about how to interpret that behaviour — it needs the human touch to fully understand and apply it.

At momondo, we work hard to find ways to make that connection in the timeliest, and most inspiring, way. Enter the mood wheel: an interactive tool found in our free iPhone city guide app.

It playfully promotes emotional engagement, while cleverly aligning both the users’ and our own, data. The wheel lets users sort almost 5,000 travel tips for 22 cities by their mood: romantic, social, family, local, fancy, or cultural. New guides and content are added continually.

Our ambition was to make the travel research and planning phase more emotional and more personal. We give the users access to our data in an appealing way, using a ‘softer’ interface that makes what is usually a pretty arduous chore more pleasant and engaging. The data responds to the user’s mood at the time, making them feel empowered and in control.

The mood wheel echoes the engagement and personalisation focus of another innovative momondo tool: Trip Finder.

trip finder

Launched in 2014, it was designed to inspire curious travellers, allowing them to streamline the planning and research associated with booking a trip. Users enter as many travel criteria as they like, including budget, seasonality, nightlife, culture, activities, weather preferences and travel mood.

The tool then provides a mosaic of curated and relevant destination suggestions. Behind the scenes, clever algorithms combine flight ticket prices, weather and geographical info with momondo’s proprietary content and information for each destination.

Although inspiration early in a customer’s purchasing journey has little to do with flight prices, carefully refining the user experience at that stage can deliver more trusted results and provide a greater better impetus for customers to follow through from ‘consideration’ to ‘action’.

Similarly, user engagement with the data is largely governed by the quality of the user interface. Data can of course be boring, but if it is correctly presented through the right interface it can be hugely exciting and a dynamic catalyst for action.

We also know that data gives different things to different people, and we achieve this flexibility and differentiation with our Flight Insight tool.

SC FEB17 MMG flight insight 550

(Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window)

Customers can see exactly how much impact six key factors—days to departure, time of day, weekday, seasonality, airport and airline—impact ticket price for more than 11,000 global routes. This level of pricing transparency is engaging and empowering for the user, through a beautiful and unique consumer interface — this can often play a key role in converting inspiration into a booking.

Sustained engagement

Of course, all of these engagement and inspirational tools are underpinned by three things:

  • significant volumes of data
  • an all-encompassing content marketing strategy which delivers consistent, shareable, visibility enhancing and engaging multiplatform content for us
  • a ‘human touch’ in the execution and application of both those factors in using it in appropriate ways

So, taking these in order:

Data is cheap and easy to collect now.  Although many are not quite where they want to be, this part should be easier than ever to accomplish.

For those not involved in marketing or communications, content marketing involves creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It has had a significant rise in popularity and authority over the past five years and is increasingly employed by brands as their primary tool for brand-building, online visibility, and audience/community building projects.

It is based on the premise of providing users with useful and engaging information and material, for free. Common content forms include blog posts, images, videos and animations, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, and guides.

Every single content element momondo publishes, whether it’s a story, video, blog post, or even a single photograph plays a part in the inspirational mix: opening up users’ eyes to the possibility of their next trip.

After content is published, it is not simply static and passive. Tools such as the mood wheel and Trip Finder reuse it, serving it up to users in a timely and relevant way to satisfy their various need states.

Data is nothing without smart presentation, interpretation and usage. We believe in the human touch as the key here, but it’s a whole other topic that we’ll explore in more depth later in this series.

Content just for you

We also use inspirational content in our personalisation efforts to retain users and build trust. Users who log in to the site will see relevant content, related to their previous behaviour on the site, as well as exclusive material.

Inspiring content also powers numerous direct-response campaigns, as well as lapsed customer remarketing strategies – although this is still an area we’re exploring. How can we make personalised recommendations that provide true utility to the user, and their decision-making process, in a way that builds trust without being intrusive?

Conversely, well-targeted, relevant, content is also ideal for engaging with users who have not visited the site for long periods. We reuse destination blog content for this purpose, as well as other tactics, such as competitions, to drive repeat rates of over eighty per cent.

Inspiration and personalisation are closely intertwined for momondo, core to our product and marketing efforts. In this regard we are constantly evolving and refreshing our content offering, and innovating in customer engagement.

Momondo believes that everybody should be able to travel the world, meet other people, and experience other cultures and religions. Travel opens our minds: when we experience something different, we begin to see ourselves and the world differently. Our content encourages customers to open up their worlds and recognise the true value of travel: important at a time when the tone of social discourse is leaning towards division and isolation.

We are committed to the long-term inspiration of our user base, to enrich their travel planning experiences and make it more enjoyable, more useful, more memorable. It is a key step on the path towards meaningful personalisation in travel search.

This is a journey, for us and our industry, so we love feedback, discussion and engagement: please do get involved in the comments below.

NB: This is a viewpoint by Pia Vemmelund, managing director for momondo. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.

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