New insights from Visa demonstrate the value of maintaining access to relevant customer data. Understanding the latest trends in consumer spending and payments can give travel companies a leg up on the competition.
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In a world awash in data, securing the right information to make smarter business decisions is mission-critical. The most successful travel companies are the ones with access to unique, relevant, and up-to-the-minute customer data they can leverage to spark new ideas and deliver the products, services, and experiences today’s travelers want and need.
According to Jeni Mundy, global senior vice president of merchant sales and acquiring at Visa, data from credit card and payment transactions is one of the most powerful forms of customer data because understanding what, when, and where purchases are being made can help companies make more targeted decisions.
“The travel industry can easily see where people fly to and where they stay,” Mundy said, “but how and where they are spending money within the destination is valuable as well. For example, if you’re an airline, knowing where your most frequent fliers are spending their money can help you decide which retail brands to partner with on loyalty programs and special offers.”
Mundy sat down with SkiftX to share some actionable data insights that can help travel companies across the industry make more thoughtful decisions.
Strong Demand, Shifting Destinations
Consumer demand for international travel has remained strong for most countries in 2023, according to Visa’s latest Global Travel Insight Report, with international overnight arrivals likely to rise above 325 million for the first time since 2019. However, Visa’s data suggests that a growing backlog of unprocessed visa applications may change the destination mix and could be a significant barrier to global travel’s continued growth.
“We’re seeing different destinations rise and fall based on the ease of entry into that country, which is obvious in a way, but very interesting to see that coming through in the numbers,” Mundy said. “For example, if you’re a Mexican citizen and you want to travel to Canada, you currently have to wait an average of 187 days for a visa, against a service standard of 14 days — so the visitor corridor is effectively closed.”
Similarly, long visa processing delays in the U.S. are prompting travelers from many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to forgo popular U.S. destinations like Las Vegas in favor of more accessible Latin American destinations such as Cancun. Meanwhile, Australia has managed to clear all of its visa backlogs so that half of all tourist visas are processed within 10 days — down from 104 days at its peak in the second quarter of 2021 — clearing the way for an Aussie tourism surge powered in part by this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“Beyond these macro global travel insights, Visa’s data consulting and analytics team can drill down into spending patterns to see how consumers from different markets are engaging with this set of new and unexpected destinations,” Mundy said. “Having access to this granular data helps online travel agencies (OTAs) and airlines understand which package options will resonate with their customers and helps hotels decide which retail products and menu items to feature.”
The “Bridgerton” Effect
In addition to benefiting OTAs, airlines, and hotels, Visa’s insights are also built around helping destination marketers manage and promote tourism. For instance, an analysis of data from Visa International Travel (VISIT), a platform that estimates travel flows between different corridors based on consumer card activity, shows an increase in tourist arrivals to Bath and North East Somerset, England, following the release of the Netflix TV show “Bridgerton”.
“What we’re streaming on TV is driving our destination choices more and more,” Mundy said. “Bath’s tourism numbers bounced back much more quickly than many parts of the UK that would normally be ahead. This case study illustrates an interesting opportunity for cities, tourism boards, and destination marketers to drive tourism by attracting big entertainment productions.”
Mundy said the case study also illustrates the larger point that “Visa is always thinking outside the box to uncover insights that point to new opportunities for destination marketers.” Another example is an upcoming study looking at travel purchase data from single-person households, which promises to shed light on the rise of the solo traveler.
“We want to help all types of travel companies capitalize on these trends,” Mundy said. “Whether they want to increase tourism numbers, upsell products and services, grow in-store traffic, expand into new markets, achieve better customer targeting, or whatever their goals may be.”
Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns
It may go without saying that a global business division built around sharing consumer data requires stringent privacy and security standards, but Mundy wants both potential partners and consumers to know that ensuring privacy is a chief concern.
“Every one of our solutions complies with the world’s strictest regulatory requirements on privacy and data security,” Mundy said. “The consumer data that feeds our travel and destination insights is meta-anonymized and used in aggregate, so we can’t see what an individual goes in and buys. We’re very proud of this constant focus and we want partners to know they can rely on us for the data and insights they need to power their business.”
To learn more about Visa’s business and economic insights, click here.
Please join Edward Chandler, Global head of B2B Travel and European Head of Commercial and Money Movement Solutions at Visa, for a special session at Skift Global Forum, September 26-28 in New York City.