Expedia, Millennials and the pattern recognition business
Expedia has conducted research into the behaviour of Millennials when searching and booking travel. The study highlights how influenced this “cohort” is by its social network as well as its desire for authentic and personalised travel experiences.
Expedia has conducted research into the behaviour of Millennials when searching and booking travel.
It’s not ground-breaking, but more of an affirmation of some of the trends out there on the attitudes and habits of this generation and how it might shape travel going forward.
Highlights of the study, which was carried out by the Future Foundation, include how influenced this “cohort” is by its social network as well as its desire for authentic and personalised travel experiences.
The research was delivered by Gary Morrison, Expedia senior vice president for retail for brand Expedia, at this week’s Millennial 20/20 Summit London.
During the session, Morrison talked of the online travel agency being in the “pattern recognition business.”
“What we’re trying to do is figure out for any particular person that enters a search query on our site, what are the most relevant set of results we can display to them.”
He talked of the millions of bits of data Expedia collects through searches and the 700 data scientists and analysts it employs with the aim of piecing together the data to help make inferences on what customers want.
Millennials, says Morrison, are a very broad segment spanning everyone from people who are single to those in relationships or with young families but “one defining feature is its spending power.”
He points to external research showing there are some 80 million Millennials in the US with a combined spending power of $600 billion.
“They are putting off a lot of traditional life investments, like buying a car and getting married, and pushing those out because what they want to do is have meaningful experiences.”
What’s important with these experiences, according to the research, is authenticity but also social validation. About 50% saw authenticity as the key part in the decision making process but just over a third saw a favourable reaction from their social network equally as important as authenticity.
And, surprisingly, 12% thought what others think is more important than how they might enjoy the experience.
Morrison goes on to talk about the amount of information the Millennial cohort is accessing and the importance of helping them get through it.
“There’s this sense of information overload and choice paralysis but they are very willing to share data with the expectation that the service provider will use it to help them make choices.”
Speaking to Tnooz after the session on how close Expedia is to being able to serve up very relevant results, Morrison says:
“It’s a never-ending story. The goal is to be as relevant as we possibly can. You can imagine with more granularity that technically you might overshoot and the person might say that is not what I meant. The trick is to keep attempting to narrow to a point where you get the relevancy and no more.”
He adds that the company’s constant test and learn strategy of small and frequent changes is about fine-tuning to drive up conversion. The company is almost looking for a “thumbs up, some sort of signal back from consumers.”
On whether it’s time to move on from Millennials and think about other generations or even just the customer as an individual, Morrison says we should not “overly focus on Millennials”, adding that developments on the Expedia platform will serve current segments as well as those to come because of their focus and reliance on technology such as mobile devices.
The Expedia Millennial Traveler report can be downloaded here.
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