Interview: eDreams’ boss reports good progress in strategy of diversifying from expensive traffic

Interview: eDreams’ boss reports good progress in strategy of diversifying from expensive traffic

Investment in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and data analytics and management tools is helping European OTA eDreams Odigeo diversify away from “expensive” paid search.

In full-year trading figures revealed this week, the Opodo parent said while booking volumes were up 10% it had managed to reduce its “variable cost per booking” by 6%.

This was achieved as the OTA saw its business growth over the last 12 months driven mainly in the more-commoditised, price sensitive and competitive flight sector.

Speaking to Travolution this week Dana Dunne, eDreams Odigeo chief executive, said a ramping up of in-house data analytics and personalisation capabilities was bearing fruit.

“We have invested significantly in CRM, in data warehousing, management and data extraction and in tools and analytics packages.

“That allows us to see patterns and we have invested in another set of tools that allow us to tailor and personalise communications to individuals beyond just sending out a traditional email.

“It’s still early days, but we are starting to leverage the platform so that when you come to our website we are personalising the experience.”

Dunne said all channels remained important to eDreams Odigeo and this more personalised approach is being embedded in all of them, including its contact centre.

The firm is also investing heavily in SEO to enhance its non paid-for presence on search engines like Google, and it has started experimenting with more visual forms of marketing.

This could involve TV, print and digital social content platforms like YouTube and Instagram.

“This year we are going to put money into these areas to really experiment and build up capabilities,” said Dunne.

He added the focus on CRM has seen eDreams Odigeo drive up the efficiency of its marketing spend by making its activities more impactful.

“When people land on our websites we can drive up conversions by using the CRM to create individual profiles that allow us to tailor the prices and services we present,” said Dunne.

EDreams Odigeo is looking to adapt its approach to suit social media channels as people become more accustomed to receiving messages from companies on networks like Facebook.

“It’s important that the tone you use on social media starts to migrate over to more traditional communication channels,” said Dunne.

Mobile bookings are growing rapidly and eDreams Odigeo says it wants to encourage customers to book on their devices.

Dunne was proud of the firm’s 24% of bookings on mobile, which he said was above the European average of 17%. He said in some sectors mobile searches are exceeding 50%.

“We are really focussed on giving a great mobile experience. People like it, they are comfortable because they do not have to bother to go back to the desktop to make the booking.”

Dunne said all types of bookings are coming through on mobile from last minute flights to more complex multi-thousand pound and group trips.

The firm recently launched post-booking push notifications to help travellers access vital information when they are away, and Dunne claimed eDreams Odigeo is ahead of its competitors in this area.

“One of the things I really want to do, that we have not been doing so much in the last six to 12 months, is invest in our product.

“Great product is critical to the consumer experience. If you don’t have a great product you can spend millions of pounds on brand and people will come once but won’t come back.

“Having a great product has the secondary benefit that people will tell other people. While we do spend money on marketing we are really spending time and focusing on building great product.”

Dunne said this is being born out in brand awareness and satisfaction scores. “We are moving absolutely in the right direction,” he claimed.

Areas Dunne picked out as going well were dynamic packaging, advertising and metasearch through its multi-modal Lilligo brand in France, car hire, and flight ancillaries.

In contrast eDreams Odigeo’s package business in France and Germany was underperforming due to the impact of terrorist attacks in key northern Africa destinations Tunisia and Egypt.

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