Collette Revolutionizes Personalization Strategy with Zero-Party Data

Read why Collette, a world leader in guided travel, is leveraging a zero-party data strategy to revolutionize how their brand delivers personalized customer experiences. 

Meeting the Customer Where They Are to Take Them Where They Want to Go

There’s no question about it: the data landscape has changed. Until recently, data collection was largely transactional, with anonymous parties collecting information on unwitting customers and selling it to advertisers. But as regulation and public opinion shift, a new data relationship between companies and customers is emerging — built on relationship, value, and trust. In this new configuration, customers voluntarily offer information about themselves in exchange for a more personalized customer experience, and brands use that data to increase customer engagement and drive sales.


When it comes to customer experience, there are few people more passionate than Victoria Matiouchina, the Vice President of Customer Experience and Insights at the travel tours company Collette. Matiouchina has been in the experience economy longer than most. And as the VP of a business designed to bring customers bespoke, tailored travel experiences, she knows the importance of personalized marketing and trusted relationships. “Any company needs to know who their customers are,” says Matiouchina. “But for a business like Collette, whose product is the actual experience, it’s critical.”

Using Zero-Party Data to Find the "Who" and "Why" Behind Customer Experience

But when Matiouchina tried to deliver her customers the personalized digital experiences they expect, she ran into some major hurdles. Firstly, third-party data, that is customer data brands collect by purchasing lists or tracking industry trends, wasn’t doing the job. Secondly, since anyone and everyone could be logging onto the Collette website — from travel agents to curious first-time travelers to long-time loyal customers — she was having a hard time even telling who her customers were. This first-party data, gathered through onsite behavior, was equally ill-suited at telling her about the customers’ why: the reason these specific travelers were interested in a tour or what kind of tour they were interested in. 


“Your customers might be living in the same neighborhood but could have completely different inspirations behind where they want to travel,” says Matiouchina. “So for us, I think personalization was very hard to achieve, even if we got access to the third-party data. Because the inspirations behind where people wanted to travel were not even being collected by third-party data providers.” Matiouchina needed a system to tell her who people were and why they were traveling so she could send them experiences that would be perfect for them.


That’s how Matiouchina initially got involved with Wyng. Several years ago, Matiouchina and Collette were embarking on a data deep-dive to learn more about their customers. But then the pandemic hit, and every Collette trip went on pause. But Matiouchina sees that as a strange stroke of luck because by the time the world was open for travel again, she’d learned how she could use zero-party data, offered up by customers through interactive games, quizzes, personalized shopping tools, and other microexperiences, could deliver a full picture of what her customers wanted. She was sold. 


“I totally embraced it because it was hitting on every point we needed. We’re going to get the data from people wanting to share it with us, and we will also get the important data that we wouldn’t be able to buy for any amount of money,” she says. “That experiential data was so important for us to connect people to travel styles that we offer.”


With zero-party data, Matiouchina could target the customers who wanted specific travel experiences and market the content they were interested in directly to them. This was a far cry from the old methods, which involved sending all their customers information on all the 100+ tours they offered and hoping people would wade through and find the one that suited them.


Knowing a customer’s why was a huge boon for Collette. But Matiouchina also appreciates how Wyng progressive data capture allows her to get to know her customers piece by piece over time. Previously, Matiouchina might use a 5-10 question survey to collect zero-party data on customers — but a standard survey didn’t provide a very engaging or user-friendly experience for customers. With progressive data capture, Matiouchina could deliver engaging microexperiences to get to know customers a bit at a time — starting with the most important questions and building an ongoing relationship from there — without ever asking the same question twice. 


“We can build a journey from those starter questions,” she says. “We can start with the pressing question and figure out who you are. And then next time you come back, we can now ask the next question of why.” For Matiouchina, that doesn’t just allow her to sell better tours to the right people. It also puts people first. “The nature of continuing the conversation where you left off is very human-centric, right?”

Starting Small and Building Toward Big

Now Matiouchina helps Collette use zero-party data to move a customer along an experiential journey, starting with who they are and then focusing on what sort of travel they want — and marketing to them from there. But for Matiouchina, the customer journey is about more than ease and personalization. It’s about trust. 


“The only way to have loyalty and retention is to gain trust with people,” she says. “Not to choose to buy people’s data but to have a relationship with them. And I think that’s the way of the future, having your customers selling your brand.”


For Matiouchina and Collette, bringing their customers the experiences they want begins with the customer experience — and gathering zero-party data with Wyng has helped them to meet their customers where they are so they can take them where they want to go.


To hear more about how to understand your customer through zero-party data and take the next step in personalization, check out the full webinar with Collette.

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