CWT Digital’s third annual BrightOn Travel conference heard from a much-loved UK travel company that is in the process of rebuilding its brand for the future under new owners. Lee Hayhurst reports
Teletext Holidays has seen a significant reduction in its reliance on Google for traffic since it started re-investing in its brand.
Wayne Parks, Teletext Holidays managing director, who joined five months ago from Virgin Holidays, said early signs of its brand push have been positive.
In a session entitled ‘Brand or Google junkies’, he told delegates at the third annual BrightOn Travel conference that Google traffic last year accounted for 75% of its total, but that was now down to 60%.
And the OTA, which is now part of a joint-venture with Truly Travel, its sole supplier of holidays, has also seen brand traffic increase from 50% to 55%.
Perks said this, achieved in part through returning to TV advertising during the summer, has increased Teletext’s marketing efficiency and allowed it to invest in new channels like social, mobile and affiliates.
“Like any business transacting online we are heavily reliant on the traffic we get and while we realise we are always going to need Google we have also been looking at different ways we can reduce our pure reliance on that way of getting people into our virtual supermarket.
“We have invested in the brand. We have done research and found Teletext is still a very powerful brand, it’s just one a lot of people have forgotten about. With the money we have saved we have been able to invest in more channels and into ones we were previously not present in and also to become mobile centric.”
Perks said one area Teletext has moved into is social with greater investment in Facebook as a performance channel.The brand had previously used it for organic growth and had amassed 165,000 Facebook fans but it is now taking a more strategic approach using the social network’s marketing tools.
“Using Facebook Exchange for more performance type activities it has become a completely new acquisition channel for us and grown to around 10% of overall traffic. It is a very efficient way to grow traffic.
“Also we have been adding display as another traffic source, which we believe we can do more efficiently now we have started to invest in the brand and see faster return.
“We also think investment in brand is helping with our affiliate business. We have continued to see growth in that area. We are seeing higher click through rates at lower cost per call. Making the brand more visible has helped to make that more efficient.”
One other area Perks believes Teletext has a distinct advantage over its OTA rivals in is its offline over the phone conversion model, which aligns with its mobile first strategy and the increasing use of devices by consumers.
“We believe the move to mobile really lends itself to having that call centre again. As perhaps other people have been moving towards online bookability we think we stand out.
“As consumers move more towards using mobile to look and book travel, they can actually find booking quite cumbersome. We believe by having a call centre booking path it’s much easier for a customer to call and speak to an agent than having an online booking process.
“With over 40% of our traffic coming from mobile we want to optimise that unique position we have.”
Teletext has been working with CWT Digital and its new owner Zen3 on introducing new technology capable of turning telephone conversations between customers and call centre agents into searchable online content to improve its organic search engine ranking.
Perks added the firm has also adapted its sales strategy towards more recommendation and it has retrained its call centre agents to field more generic enquiries.
“Recommendation is playing a much more important role now. On our site you can click and go straight through to a call centre to respond to specific offers. But recently we have moved towards more generic calls and restructured the way or sales team works.
“The booking process previously was triggered by someone finding an offer, coming through on that offer that started the sales conversation. We have now retrained them to deal with more generic calls. We are moving more towards recommendation with customers as they come through.”
Perks admitted one of Teletext’s challenges was to reignite a heritage brand which many people think is no longer around.
But he said research has shown there remains a great deal of affection for a brand many Brits booked their first holidays through when it was that clunky, forever scrolling, ‘Lego block’ service back in the days of analogue television.
“We have to be careful. People do have fond memories of the brand. There’s a lot of nostalgia and emotion, we have to build on that.
“Awareness is relatively strong versus the other OTAs but where we don’t do so well is converting that into consideration and preference. This was one of the major challenges we had.
“For us it’s not just around sticking the brand into market as a lot of travel companies do around Christmas, January and February time, it’s about being around throughout the entire year and getting the brand out through a lot of different media.
“While we clearly recognise the need for Google and the traffic it can bring we are not solely hooked on them as perhaps we were a while ago. We are looking to architecture our brand to realise the benefit a more balanced growth strategy can bring for the long term.”