Future of Travel Retail: Travelport employs neuroscience to make shopping experience ‘extraordinary’

Future of Travel Retail: Travelport employs neuroscience to make shopping experience ‘extraordinary’

GDS and tech giant is working with US consultancy Immersion to understand consumers unconscious feelings

Travelport is partnering with neuroscientists from US-based consultancy Immersion to apply a scientific approach to making the travel retail experience as extraordinary as the trip itself.

Dr Paul Zac, founder and chief executive of Immersion, addressed last week’s Future of Retail conference in Dubai about the work it does understanding the psychology of consumers.

Immersion draws insights from tracking brain activity and people’s unconscious reactions to their environment to find out what they like and what drives loyalty and repeat custom.

“We all want extraordinary experiences, the reason people travel is to have extraordinary travel experiences. The problem is the experience of booking travel really sucks.

“There’s an experience gap. People get frustrated and they start changing providers.”

Zac said technology can help make sure consumers have an “amazing time all the way through their travel experience”.

Immersion “reverse engineers” the self-reporting behavioural scientific process by starting with measuring actual unconscious reactions rather than what people say they are feeling.

“Most of what your brain does is unconscious, 99% maybe,” said Zac. “We have this idea that if I probe you in the right way the unconscious can be made conscious. 

“Too often we measure what we can and see that as valuable intelligence, but it’s not. Immersion captures emotional resonance – how much does this experience speak to me.

“It’s the value your brain places on that experience. If you value it, you want to do it again and again. It’s something you remember easily and that motivates you to share it with others.

“That’s what we really want. We want people to not only have a good experience but to remember it, enjoy it and want to repeat it.”

Zac claimed Immersion’s approach, based on the acronym SIRTA, is capable of predicting market outcomes with 85% to 90% accuracy.

SIRTA stands for Staging, Immersion, Relevance, Target, and Action which sets out how consumers should be made comfortable with storytelling they can relate to and driven to act once immersed.

“If a story or product or service does not correlate then there’s really nothing for me to do, it’s just a good story. The call to action has to happen at the high immersion point in the story.

“How to do that? It’s really about measurement. Science is about getting rid of bullshit.”