On the occasion of the forum that Roland Berger consultancy company held together with French investments group Cap Horn last November, we talked with Sébastien Manceau, Partner at Roland Berger Paris. Here, we learnt a little bit more about the latest data innovations proposed by start-up companies for more performant travel and retail industries.

1. How central is data to the travel and retail industries?

Both the travel and retail industry are very much data oriented and revolve around a very complex B2C audience.

However, looking a little closer, these industries operate very differently. For example, the retail industry is highly exposed to seasonality effects. The industry benefits from a plethora of points of sales which, in turn, supposes different catchment areas. So, it is impossible to produce an average model valid for all retailers.

For the travel industry, the arrival of Booking.com forced businesses to be much more proactive on the digital front. Still, managing a successful offline/online strategy remains tricky.

This is where data can help. We are now able to capture, handle and analyse data at an unprecedented scale helping retail and travel businesses to produce accurate marketing campaigns or effectively retail their offers.

2. Everyone is talking about data now. What has changed? Why now?

Even between 2018 and 2019 during the two events we organised with Cap Horn, I have witnessed a real switch of mindset around how industry stakeholders apprehend data. Undoubtedly, there is a real acceleration of maturity from the travel and retail industries.

Data is truly instrumental in identifying the winning from the losing models. Differentiation is happening now; because as customers are faced with literally thousands of retail and travel options, recognising customers and proposing to them an offer that is in line with their personal taste has never been more important.
For example, the more agile and best performing travel players are those that have heavily invested in IT departments capable to analyse data.

4. How do you see data improving the customer journey in the future?

Data is instrumental in improving the entire customer journey; right from the organisation stage, data can create brand awareness on Google or social media channels or push the most relevant retail and travel offers depending on the targeted client. When travelling, it is about promoting local offers or close-by retail deals. Post-experience, and this is especially true for the travel industry, it will be about keeping a connection with clients to encourage repeat custom.

Data has forced us to switch from high-volume business models to more tailored strategies. I am adamant it is the key to more performant retail and travel industries.