How do we know a destination is worth our time, money, and dreams? Maybe a friend told us. Perhaps we followed a YouTube link on top ten things to know. Or, read it on a travel blog somewhere. But, how do you know the dream will match reality? The adventurer in each of us understands we never know for sure until we get our sandals in the sand. To meet that place in person. Sounds a bit like dating, doesn’t it? It seems odd initially to compare travel and dating. Think about how traveler preferences can be matched with certain destinations. And reviewers of those destinations. Let’s discover why travel sites are missing what dating profiles offer.
Something Is Missing
To be clear, this isn’t about dating. It’s about finding specific information to have your amazing trip based on your specific wants/needs.
Travel sites like Expedia are great places to research and book your next getaway. Many sites offer functionality to save places of interest or “favorites” you can look back at from time to time.
Other sites like TripAdvisor send you suggestions. But it doesn’t feel as personalized as it could be. It’s like their throwing mud in your inbox hoping you notice enough to clean and check it out.
It shouldn’t be that way. We should get personalized, helpful, timely ideas and suggestions like from a trusted friend. Wouldn’t you be excited to get those emails/notices? And, we’ll be much more loyal to that brand too.
What About Reviews?
Does that person have the same likes as I do? Just because someone says it’s the best carne asada taco they’ve ever had doesn’t mean you’ll like as much or at all. When a friend has similar tastes in tacos and offers a suggestion, there’s a good chance you’ll like it.
Reviews are good starting points if they can be trusted. Sometimes we rely on reviews too much. It’s known some companies pay people to post reviews that are good for them and deceptively bad reviews for competitors.
We need to find preference matches.
If we could be matched to reviewers with similar tastes in adventures, food, travel habits, etc., then we’re that much further ahead to having an amazing trip tailored to our desires.
Dating Travel Profiles
How do we find these people with similar passions/likes to follow their reviews? That can take some effort in reading their posts. But, what if the travel site did that for us?
Based on our likes, paired us with others with similar passions. We could follow them and the site could offer suggestions based on reviews from those people.
A Step Further
A travel site could offer specific profile preferences. The questions need to be specific. Such as what’s your favorite meal? Maybe that’s a sushi volcano roll. Do you love to visit art museums? Etc.
People are willing to give information about themselves if it’s a win-win scenario. If we can be given destination options, places to rest our heads, adventures to seek all based on others that have similar preferences, that’s a great leap forward for travelers.
If you’re like me, you can spend countless hours researching a trip and planning an itinerary. Before arriving, it’s my best guess if we’ll truly enjoy it.
Exploring is the fun part of course. But, there are occasions where an activity feels like wasted time.
From those that we trust, we can gain validation when we plan trips. And get more excited about the amazing time ahead of us.
Offer Deals Based On Preferences
Most of the emails I get from TripAdvisor and similar sites are not tailored to my actual preferences. They simply send me deals or supposed deals to random locations.
I should be able to provide these companies, if I want them to continue to contact me, targeted destinations I’m interested in. Yes, if they can find me a great airfare, stunning hotel around activities I’m most excited about, I want to hear from them.
I don’t want deals sent to me that I currently have no desire to visit.
Don’t Underestimate The Creepiness
The internet is essentially one big spy network with stalkers everywhere hungry for your story. To figure out how to either sell your wants and interests as data or sell you something based on the same.
It’s creepy! In the physical world, you can be arrested for stalking.
Tripadvisor tracking follow-ups are particularly bad. Automated systems send an unsolicited email with hotel and activity suggestions shortly after casually browsing a city.
Instead, if a travel site provides a pop-up while someone is searching for a hotel, say in Kona Hawaii, then it should ask if they’d like to get follow-up emails about that location. That’s cool.
Random emails based on casual browsing is stalker-like and comes across as intrusive. As if someone’s following you that you wish wouldn’t. We get it! We’re tracked online. Don’t make it so obvious. It’s a turn-off.
Opportunity For Engagement
Speaking of tracking, during COVID-19 travel experts are seeing that people are searching for trips they hope to take after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
This is a great time to add functionality that engages with customers. To match them up with reviewers with similar preferences. To provide specific deals based on their specific wants.
Why wouldn’t travel companies want to engage with customers in this way? Help them plan. Find the cheapest airfare. Show them things to do and restaurants they may like based on their profile.
The would-be traveler gets the information they need for a great trip. And the travel company may have a customer with repeat business for a long time.
Sounds like a match made in heaven.
Read. Plan. Travel. Repeat!