Personalization is at the core of a changing travel industry. Consumers are demanding visual, authentic and personal travel experiences from start to finish — from the booking process to posting #tbt pics long after the trip is over. Cookie-cutter recommendations from hotels and travel brands? Those simply won’t cut it anymore.

“The digital traveler does not want a hotel to tell them about the three on-premises restaurants. They want and expect a curated list of local restaurants that serve the kinds of dishes that constitute their personal favorites. … When selecting where to stay, they expect to tour their potential room but would also enjoy seeing places in the immediate neighborhood where they might like to spend some time. … They will expect their adviser, their app and their airline to make recommendations based almost entirely on their personal travel profile and interests,” explained luxury vacation company owner Richard Turen in a recent Travel Weekly article.

Smart travel brands are accommodating the shift in customer expectations by leveraging customer data and using personalization in real time. Marriott, Carnival and Hilton are three brands leading the way. Here’s how:

Marriott app goes way beyond booking

Marriott recently launched their updated Marriott International app with enhanced features, navigation and you guessed it — personalization. Marriott guests can make reservations for rooms, bypass long check-in lines, and request late check-out — all within the app. It also provides curated content from Marriott’s digital magazine, Traveler, tailored to a guest’s previous searches. The app also lets Marriott guests make special requests for an upcoming stay. They can ask for normal stuff like extra pillows and towels — or larger requests like leaving candy and roses in the room to help celebrate a wedding anniversary.

Marriott’s app is responsible for $1.7 billion in annual gross bookings. “It’s about utility. We want our app to be open while they’re traveling, not just when they’re booking, and we want to meet more of our customers’ need when they’re on the go,” said George Corbin, SVP of Digital for Marriott in a recent AdExchanger article. Marriott says the app will continue to evolve, becoming more personalized and data-driven in the future.

Wearable tech makes cruise ships more intimate

Carnival’s Princess Cruises introduced the Ocean Medallion, a wearable the size of a quarter, at the CES global consumer electronics show in Las Vegas earlier this year. The new technology is part of Carnival’s goal to make large cruise ships feel more intimate and create personal moments for guests.

The medallion acts as a digital vacation concierge and communicates with sensors around the ship. It pairs with the Ocean Compass, a digital experience portal that houses all of the guest’s information and preferences — streamlining the process for guests as they embark and disembark the ship, and giving access to guest’s rooms with no keycard necessary.

The medallion allows crew members to communicate in real-time with guests based on their preferences and actions. If a crew member knows that a nearby guest has a workout class, they’re able to remind them, or bring them a water bottle. And don’t worry about getting lost. The medallion has navigation so friends and family can locate one another on the ship.

Hilton Honors App: A personal travel guide

The Hilton Honors app acts as a personal travel guide for guests, recommending suggestions for excursions, restaurants and activities.

If you’re looking for the spa, it’ll help you get there (and maybe send you a deal along the way). Members also accrue points — and have the flexibility to combine points with family and friends or use them on Hilton’s app also serves as a navigation tool, guiding guests around its properties.

It’s crucial for travel brands to offer more personalized, visual and contextual experiences — especially at the time when a potential customer discovers their brand online. By partnering with Curalate, travel brands can connect discovery and purchase and turn travel photos on social into powerful marketing tools. Want to learn more? Sign up a free demo.

Smart brands are using lifestyle content and fan photos to show off their amazing hotels and locales — and drive purchases. Want to learn more? Check out our free guide: Creativity on the Fly: The Rise of Lifestyle Content for Travel Brands.