Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

By John Venezia, Vice President of Information Technology, Apple Vacations

When it comes to planning a vacation there are a number of choices that must be weighed.  Where do you want to go?  How much do you want to spend?  Where can you find the best deal?  Is everyone in the family going to enjoy the planned activities?  There are a lot of decisions to weigh and data to be processed in order to plan a great getaway.

Today’s empowered consumers turn to the Internet to plan a vacation whether it’s a weekend getaway or extended adventure with multiple stops.  Yet with endless options from online travel agencies, members-only communities, and sites offering trusted advice from travelers, the decision making process can turn you off and pull the breaks on planning.

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At Apple Vacations, we have specialized in vacations to exotic destinations since 1969.  Keeping a pulse on the travel industry and consumer behaviors, we found that consumer online purchases were not growing past a certain threshold.  PhoCusWright Research has estimated that online purchases were projected to comprise only 5 – 10 percent of traditional vacation packages.

In addition to the numerous Web sites, research has suggested that consumers are also experiencing fatigue with filling out online forms that collect your preferences, and then organizing all the potential itineraries and pricing each one offers.

There are just too many decisions leaving one to need a vacation from vacation planning.

In order to drive online bookings, we needed to create a smarter online environment which would simplify the decision making process for consumers.

What we found is that we needed to focus on decisions and processes through the use of technology and analytics to automate and improve the decisions that drive the business.   In order to do so, we brought together our executive staff with a series of decisions discovery workshops and asked ourselves, “How can we get the most relevant offer in front of consumers by asking them the minimum number of questions?”

Through a series of steps, we are creating a large inventory of potential decisions and scenarios and prioritizing the most important ones that need to be automated.  Using IBM’s decision management technology we will be able to automate the process of deciding which vacation is best to put in front of a consumer, which discounts should be offered, and other important factors so that we can offer the consumer the best vacation package available.

Through this new smarter environment, Apple Vacations will provide an improved online shopping experience for consumers by providing expertise not just through experienced agents, but through decisions embedded in the operational processes and environments consumers use.

Now consumers can skip the stress of planning and head to their perfect getaway to let the relaxing begin.

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