By Graham Cooke, chief executive of Qubit
The increasing number of online travel agents and dominance of a few global giants has turned the heat up for travel brands. We are seeing increasingly complex approaches to digital marketing in an effort to acquire and retain customers throughout the booking journey, from inspiration to booking, to post-booking ancillary sales.
For too long it has been unclear what website tactics and technology actually drive revenue. But steps are being taken to address this.
Recently, Qubit released analysis of more than two billion user journeys from our customer base which includes Emirates, Thomas Cook Holidays, NH Hotels and more.
We’ve ranked the most valuable customer experiences by their impact on revenue per visitor (RPV), and subjected that data and methodology to an independent assurance by PwC.
The study sheds light on where travel brands should be spending their time and money. My hope is that this will challenge other third party tech vendors to be more transparent, and encourage travel brands to become more demanding for proof of product.
What can the travel sector learn from this research?
The results show that brands can increase their total digital revenues by as much as 6% if the highest-performing techniques are prioritised. The most essential finding, however, concerns the impact of coupling these tactics with targeted personalisation based on user behaviour and preferences. When experiences are targeted, the average uplift increases by three times compared to non-targeted implementations.
Cosmetic optimisation tactics, like changing the design of buttons or altering the navigation to the website, is something the study found to be less effective, and in some cases negatively impacting revenues.
Brands should focus on the most valuable techniques, which can be grouped around the idea of persuasiveness, tapping into purchase impetus.
Thomas Cook Airlines is a brand currently harnessing this to great effect. We have been working with them to use their live pricing API to identify flights departing soon, with seat availability, and close proximity to the visitor’s geographical location. A targeted deal was then shown to visitors, giving them the option to purchase flights on that route. This personalised route promotion has given the trading team more flexibility, has automated a manual task, and consequently driven an uplift of 1.8% in revenue per converter.
Separately, the Qubit study also demonstrated that techniques that highlight scarcity, by indicating low stock levels, have a revenue per visitor (RPV) uplift of 2.9%. Similarly, experiences that create a sense of urgency, with time limits on when customers must complete their purchase, achieved a 1.5% RPV uplift.
These percentages may not sound earth-shattering, but keep in mind when scaled across the entire business these techniques can deliver a very meaningful impact. And when you consider the average Brit spends £1,347 every time they go on holiday (5% of the average annual salary), according to the latest research from Starcom, this opportunity is not insignificant.
We have the data, now lets use it
Travel brands enjoy the luxury of consumers volunteering a lot of information about their preferences and spending power. It’s therefore not necessarily about more data, but using it in more effective ways, and our study is the first concrete evidence for which personalisation and optimisation techniques are going to drive growth.
It’s now time for technology vendors to work more closely with travel brands to make the most of what they have. I look forward to seeing more follow our lead.