Marketing Services

Adobe Experience Platform + Adobe Experience Manager: Travel Brands’ First-Class Ticket to Personalization ROI

I’ve always been an avid traveler. Few experiences in life create more opportunities for connection, inspiration, and delight than travel. That philosophy guides much of the work my WillowTree teammates and I have done in partnership with some of the world’s biggest travel and hospitality brands (Brightline, Marriott, Travel + Leisure, and Hilton, to name a few).  

Photos from some of my favorite travels. Clockwise from left: visiting Comuna 13 in Medellín, Colombia; me with a family in their home in a remote village near Taiyuan, Shanxi, China; visiting the most iconic cultural site in Granada, Guatemala; meeting a group of school children in a rural area of Cambodia.

There is enormous opportunity to innovate in this space, too. By 2030, the global business and tourism markets are each projected to reach nearly $1 trillion in value. But that’s not to dismiss headwinds facing the industry: rising consumer expectations, staffing shortages, among other challenges, threaten the industry’s post-pandemic progress. Increasingly, consumers look to their phones to make travel decisions: the top 10 travel apps have seen downloads increase by the tens of millions since 2018 (even accounting for slight dips during the pandemic).

Adobe Experience Platform and Adobe Experience Manager can help transform these challenges into opportunities, giving MarTech teams the tools they need to build and ship the personalized, premium experiences today’s travelers seek.

Experience Platform, Experience Manager, Experience Cloud… Let’s Check In.

Adobe Experience Cloud is built for scale, and a great choice for orchestrating the concierge-like, five-star interactions that travelers now expect. It’s not just personalization for personalization’s sake: companies investing in Experience Cloud reap real business rewards. We’ve seen it firsthand with our clients like Brightline, whose new Adobe stack helped power increased ridership and revenue in just 12 weeks.

We know personalization reduces customer acquisition costs (by up to 50 percent), boosts overall revenues (by 5 to 15 percent), and increases marketing spend efficiency (by 10 to 30 percent). When Adobe commissioned a study to analyze the potential ROI of using Adobe Experience Cloud, Forrester Consulting determined that “organizations experienced benefits of $32.5 million over three years and an ROI of 250%.”

Through the lens of an imagined regional railway journey, let’s examine how Adobe Experience Platform (which includes Real-Time Customer Data Platform + Journey Optimizer + Customer Journey Analytics) and Adobe Experience Manager work together to facilitate high-impact, high-reward CX.

Confused by which platform does what, or what we mean by AEC vs. AEM vs. AEP? Our comprehensive guide to the Adobe Experience Cloud has all the answers.

Reimagining Your Users’ Travel Journeys, Powered by Adobe Experience Manager and Experience Platform

If you're a fan of our Room for Growth podcast, you're already well aware of the fact that I am Delta's Number One Fan. But today, I'm doing a little pivot into the travel space. So hop on board as we imagine one user’s fictionalized train journey on a made-up railway system. (Too corny?)

Meet “Mary.” She’s an executive from Pasadena, California, traveling to a Las Vegas conference. Using her mobile browser, Mary searches for the “quickest LA to Vegas train.”

“Ace Express Regional Railway” is the first result: a new West Coast rail system that promises seamless travel coupled with highly-rated customer service.

Here’s how AEM and AEP connect, conduct, and customize Mary’s travel journey.

Adobe Experience Manager integrates users’ search data into custom web experiences

Even amid changing consumer behavior and ever-evolving digital touchpoints, Adobe Experience Manager delivers personalized experiences that drive quicker time-to-value and speed-to-market. AEM's digital content management and asset management capabilities help marketing teams leverage edge-based delivery for webview speed and performance, and continually test and iterate on digital content through generative AI and granular content insights.

Through AEM Sites, travel brands like “Ace Express” can consolidate users’ search data to automatically populate a booking page with users’ desired itineraries (dates, locations, number of passengers, etc.). If Mary closes her original search tab, and reopens it to run the same search a second time, AEM can surface and populate her past search data into its web views.

Not creepy, but convenient. This level of personalization helps us shorten travelers’  time-to-purchase, send abandon cart messaging that re-engages and converts, and ensure we pass consistent audience data to Real-Time CDP (more on that in a sec, stay with me).  

Experience Manager Sites helps Mary complete her booking and purchase her ticket — in just one click.  

So what have we learned about Mary thus far?

By searching for and purchasing her ticket, Mary has provided first-party data we can begin to activate in AEC, like her contact information and itinerary.

Collecting event data to build unified customer profiles through Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform

Real-Time CDP provides the data-centric foundation to more holistically understand our customers and their journeys, activate new experiences derived from that data, and measure our overall performance.    

Back to Mary: Real-Time Customer Data Platform integrates data from Mary’s purchase event and adds it to her user profile. With information from Mary’s original search (captured by AEM), as well as her booking, our imaginary travel partners are building a more comprehensive, unified profile of Mary’s attributes, preferences, and event history.

Adobe Journey Optimizer orchestrates personalized email sequences and push notifications, including cross-sell/upsell opportunities

With Adobe Journey Optimizer, marketers gain faster time to insights. We can more quickly activate the use cases that optimize costs and drive revenue. Leveraging Mary’s profile data and purchase behavior, Ace Express uses AJO to orchestrate personalized email sequences,  including opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

Mary’s inbox pings! with an email confirming her trip, sharing what to expect the day of, and inviting her to download the brand’s travel app. A few days later, Mary receives a second email offering her a free upgrade to first class (I mean, who doesn’t love a free upgrade?)  — if she downloads Ace’s app.  

“A free upgrade?” Mary thinks. “Hell yeah!”  

She opens the app, redeems her upgrade, and receives confirmation of a new, first-class seat.

Each of Mary’s actions represents valuable, first-party data Adobe collects and adds to her user profile:  

Mary's interactions with Ace's email communications have helped AEC gain insight into her preferred channels and app engagement.

Continuing to collect valuable first-party data and consumer insights in Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform

While Mary registers in the app, she expresses her preference to be contacted with trip-related details via push notification. We’re continuing to gain valuable insights into Mary’s preferences and attributes, which, through Real-Time CDP, further build out Mary’s user profile.

As Mary’s trip approaches, she continues interacting with the Ace Express brand. She checks in, purchases a welcome drink (vodka martinis, anyone?) and snack, reviews her train’s status and boarding location, and researches protocols for the quiet car and wifi availability.  

In each engagement, Ace learns about Mary as a consumer — ultimately making her experience with the brand better. Her in-app and push notifications are more timely and relevant and her email offers are more compelling.

We’re creating moments of delight that translate into stronger brand loyalty.

Now, we're learning about additional opportunities to personalize Mary's experience, like location-specific offers and food discounts.

Adobe Customer Journey Analytics identifies trends for one-to-one AND scalable personalization

For individual consumers and large consumer segments alike, Customer Journey Analytics (CJA) connects offline and online data sources to understand the customer journey, identify drop-off trends and friction points, and compare consumer behaviors.

Speaking of segments, we know Mary falls into the category of travelers opting for the first-class, direct train to LA. Now, imagine that Mary is traveling on an exceptionally busy travel weekend. Ace Express understands in real-time that there’s a surge in demand, and in response, the company adds another express train to LA. With this new service offering, Ace Express sends a notification to Mary and all travelers in this particular segment, inviting them to upgrade to the new express train.

When high winds and heavy rainfall pop up in the forecast, Mary calls Ace Express’ customer service to confirm everything is running smoothly. Once more, Customer Journey Analytics has our travel brand covered: the platform integrates online and offline data (data from call centers, in-store engagements, etc.) in its one-to-one and one-to-many consumer analysis.

What we’re creating for Mary on a one-to-one level, we can also deliver for every customer across every touchpoint — every time.

Activating Adobe Experience Platform and AEM to boost customer loyalty

Even the humble "please rate your experience" email allows us to learn more about Mary: call center data, upgrade interest, etc.

Brands’ personalization efforts are stronger when we use these platforms as an entire ecosystem rather than individual, isolated systems. Mary’s follow-up questionnaire is a prime example of AEM + AEP collaboration:

  • Once her trip concludes, our travel brand uses AJO to email Mary, prompting her to review the experience.
  • Mary’s trip was so seamless that of course she quickly gives Ace a five-star rating. In fact, while she’s thinking of Ace, she searches for her next trip. (Maybe La Jolla or San Diego?)
  • AEM and Real-Time CDP offer data collection and activation related to Mary’s next search, adding it to her increasingly robust user profile.  
  • CJA helps us assess the effectiveness of each of these steps — and informs our future actions and optimizations.

From the moment Mary hopped on her phone to search for a train ticket to the moment she closed her laptop after giving a five-star review, Adobe Experience Platform and Adobe Experience Manager have been our efficient couriers and conductors — ensuring Mary receives the right message on the right channel at the right time.

Your brand’s first-class pass to more personalized experiences

Delivering impactful customer experiences is complex — especially as today’s travelers have growing expectations for personalization. At WillowTree, our Adobe practice combines expertise in marketing, data architecture, web engineering, digital analytics, and customer experience strategy to ensure you drive the most value from your investment in the Adobe Experience Cloud.

Join us at Adobe Summit 2024 and schedule a "Captivate Your Customers" Personalization Demo to see how intelligent personalization enabled by Adobe’s Real-Time Customer Data Platform drives engagement across each stage of the customer experience.

Table of Contents
Read the Video Transcript

One email, once a month.

Our latest thinking—delivered.
Thank you! You have been successfully added to our monthly email list.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
More content

Let's talk.

Elegant, Performant Digital Products.
Personalized, Automated Marketing.
The Frontiers of Data and Generative AI.