Evolution of Airline CRM to CDP

According to Phocuswright, global travel industry gross bookings reached $1.6tr USD in the year 2017, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. If one factors in indirect economic contributions, travel industry now accounts for staggering 10.2% of global GDP. Each year, the global traveller pool is flooded with millions of new consumers from emerging and developed markets. A sleeping giant has awakened – impact of which cannot be underestimated.

With interactions occurring across many devices and channels, travel companies can no longer rely on legacy systems to understand who their customer is, how and when to reach them, and how to measure the influence of marketing, product, and engineering initiatives on the bottom line. That’s why many forward-thinking travel companies have started to consider using a customer data platform to unify and orchestrate their customer data.

When speaking about customer data, most of us get confused CDP with CRM. Though they share some similarities, they are vastly different in purpose and function. Let’s first  understand by definitions:

Customer Data Platform (CDP): A CDP is a system specifically designed to create a customer database that includes complete historical and behavioral data about the customer. This could include website visits, app sessions, and even content affinity. All of this can be integrated with machine learning to send personalized marketing offers to customers.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A CRM enables you to focus on your business relationship with individual customers. Often wrongly interpreted with just sales, CRM even stores the data of your suppliers, service providers, and customers. It is a tool that can be used by all divisions of your business, from HR and accounts to supply chain management.

Emergence of CDP for Airlines

Airlines continue to lag behind other sectors in creating seamless journeys and personalized interactions. While countless vendors enable select use cases like site personalization, email personalization, or targeted ads, none of them provide the true foundation brands need across all their personalization efforts — unified, usable customer data. Two main challenges faced by airlines in customer data are:

  1. Lack of unified customer data : Due to more channels and technologies, as well as more data capture in general, huge amounts of customer data has become chronically trapped in systems throughout the modern airline data infrastructure.
  2. Traditional approaches to data unification – tedious and wasted effort : Many airlines have made some investments in their customer data unification and usability layer. Unifying customer data is not a new concept, but modern factors make a more modern approach a necessity. Traditional approaches to customer data unification, such as Master Data Management or in-house customer data platforms, do not work at the speed or scale needed today. Personalization requires that trillions of records be processed rapidly and on a daily basis. In addition, setting up and maintaining these systems require tremendous effort by IT teams in the form of laborious ETL and schema mapping projects, SLAs across many systems, and 24/7 monitoring

When to use CDP and CRM vs other solutions

CRM platforms, although used by the entire organization, was primarily designed for sales, i.e., managing the company’s interactions and relationship with customers. It is used to store information and inquiries made by potential customers. CRM is used to track transactions, analyze the sales pipeline, keep on top of customer communication, and make notes about customer feedback for future reference.

CDP – unified customer experience is impossible without unified customer data. Most data originates in separate systems that weren’t designed to share it with anything else. Traditional methods for collecting that data into unified customer profiles, such as an enterprise data warehouse, have failed to solve the problem. Newer approaches, like “data lakes”, have collected the data but failed to organize it effectively.

The Customer Data Platform is an alternative approach that has had great success at pioneering companies. A CDP puts marketing in direct control of the data unification project, helping to ensure it is focused directly on marketing requirements. CDPs apply specialized technologies and pre-built processes that are tailored precisely to meet marketing data needs. This allows a faster, more efficient solution than general purpose technologies that try to solve many problems at once.

Here’s a quick chart for comparison:

Expectations from CDP

Before choosing CDP, here are expectations which will help companies decide:

  • Marketer-managed
  • Employ a unified, persistent, single database for all customer behavioral, profile and other data, from any internal or external source  
  • Utilize a consistent identifier that links all of a customer’s data; and
  • Are fully accessible by external systems and are structured to fully support marketers’ needs for campaign management, marketing analyses, and business intelligence.

Travlytix is made ground-up by focusing airlines and travel e-commerce solutions. Generic CDPs are challenging to understand travel specific use-cases and schema. With 2 decades of experience in understanding travel tech challenges, Travlytix is made specially for travel industry.

About Author:

Srinivas is Head of Product, Travlytix.com at GoQuo. Previously he worked as Program Manager at Google and Product owner at Sterlite Tech leading Software Defined Networking. He’s also alumnus of Teach For India and holds Bachelor’s degree in engineering.

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