IBM's Raul Arce to Speak at CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference

  • EyeforTravel
  • 03.03.09
IBM’s Raul Arce is scheduled to speak during CRM and Loyalty Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference, to be held on March 4-5.

Some argue that most travel companies today are not delivering personalized experiences based on customer needs. From IBM’s perspective, its VP of travel and transportation, Raul Arce, thinks there is a void as far as customization is concerned.

“The majority of travel providers focus their products and services for just two groups of consumers: either business or leisure travelers,” Arce told’s Ritesh Gupta. “But the reality is that there is a multitude of different segments that exist today – and the world’s not black and white.”

Arce added, “Right now, our research is finding that most providers do not know who their customers really are. For example, a provider may know that a customer recently stayed at a Hilton Hotel in Boulder, Colo., but they will not know why he or she was there. Was it for a graduation ceremony or a ski trip?”

“If the travel provider sends a blanket vacation offer three months later, then that offer really is not relevant to the customer. There’s a difference between collecting data and doing something intelligent with that.”

The biggest challenge today is that there is not a lot of analytics going on – and that’s what is impeding the effective execution of CRM strategy today, says Arce.

Providers have to figure out how to collect the right data on their clients – and then leverage that information to deliver personalised solutions versus mass-marketing offers.

Providers must master the art of assessing valuable CRM data and using it more intelligently, according to Arce.

On how travel companies, especially airlines, can position themselves as a trusted advisor using education and knowledge as CRM tools, Arce said travel companies can be viewed as trusted advisors in the eyes of consumers if they are plugged in to popular social networks and can maintain an engaging dialogue with these communities.

“Generation WE or the Millenials have literally grown up in a world organized among communities of interests online,” said Arce. “It is also important to note that the digital era has brought upon the rise of the empowered and collaborative customer. User-generated reviews abound on both global and national travel sites.”

Providers today must listen to the voices of customers intently and take their feedback seriously. “There is a reason the Chevy Corvette has enjoyed a history of sales growth and never seen discounted rates - it is because the car was designed and engineered by its loyal customer base. Providers have to really understand and know what their brands stand for to gain competitive advantage,” said Arce.

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