MIC’d Up: Travel Tech and the Journey to Personalization

When I think about the top consumer brands driving innovation right now, there is one quality that consistently sticks out to me as a defining factor of success: personalization.

Personalization is one of the only ways that a company can cut through the noise and connect with consumers these days. When brands give a damn about you, those are usually the brands consumers give a damn about!

We’re starting to see personalization take hold in nearly every industry, too. From wellness to food and the markets in between, there really is no shortage of brands baking individuality into their strategies. And technology is making it happen.

Technology gave rise to the digital age, which in turn gave rise to the amount of data available to companies. This data creates an identity that’s unique to each consumer. Now, brands know who you are – rather intimately, I might add – and they’re delivering a new generation of tailored offerings and services that you may not even know you wanted or needed.

I’m constantly coming across new brands that are redefining what it means to “Get Personal,” but the travel industry is having a moment right now. Four major innovators come to mind: Airbnb, 23andme, The Traveling Spoon and AutoCamp.

Have you guys heard of Heritage travel? It’s one of the newer trends taking hold of the industry and involves trips to learn more about your ancestry. Airbnb and 23andme recently teamed up to make it a much more feasible way to travel. 23andme provides the ancestry reports, while Airbnb finds homes and experiences in native countries. It’s a partnership forged through the deepest levels of collaboration and represents each brand equally (a nearly impossible task!).

It’s also spearheading this idea that vacations should be uber-personalized, curated experiences for each individual traveler. Quite frankly I can’t think of anything more personal than DNA, but there is another company that comes close! The Traveling Spoon is a platform that connects users with local hosts to “share the joy of a homemade meal” and learn about the traditions passed down through generations. If a homemade meal isn’t unique enough, users can operate as a sous chef for the night and even travel to local markets to source supplies with their hosts.

The last innovator dabbling in personalized travel is a company called AutoCamp. What they’re doing is basically reimagining the hotel, placing chic, aluminum Airstream trailers in serene spots in nature. Visitors can customize nearly every aspect of their cabin and experience for a trip that is exactly what they envisioned. Read more about their Founder & CEO Neil DiPaola on Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2019 list.

These are iconic ideas, really, but they didn’t happen overnight. If you’re going to take anything away from this post, let it be this: context is key. People tend to think that technology and data will unlock this hidden door to personalization, but it means nothing without background. What is the brand, who is your audience, and ultimately, what are you looking to accomplish? Personalization only resonates when all of these questions are answered.

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