Self-catering specialist Hoseasons has seen a big lift in conversions after encouraging user generated content around “reasons to go” rather than descriptions of the accommodation.
CEO Richard Carrick told the audience at this week’s Travolution Question Time: “We’ve moved away from descriptions of units of accommodation to local destination content such as walks, local pubs, local amenities, the reasons to go somewhere. In three weeks we’ve seen a lift in conversions of around 53%.”
Carrick acknowledged that this was from a low traffic base, but said the approach would be rolled out across other product lines soon.
“Conversion” was a recurrent theme throughout the event, with Carrick admitting that he wished he’d been more focussed on it six months earlier.
“We don’t really need any more customers,” he said, “we just have to get better at converting the ones we have. A 0.1% increase would make a difference.”
Hoseasons’ online marketing spend has increased by 35% this year, exceeding its offline spend, with the trend set to continue into next year. Carrick however warned that “the travel industry still has lots to learn in terms of CRM” and was looking at ways to stop having to “buy back customers” who revisited the site via search engines.
Fellow panellist at the event Arjo Ghosh, CEO of digital marketing agency iCrossing, agreed that “offline budgets were shifting online” and that none of its travel clients was cutting its digital spend, although a large financial one was slashing its budget by 40% globally. “This is a great time for founding digital as a cornerstone of marketing,” he said.
Dan Robb, head of Google’s travel unit, offered a different view, suggesting it was “wrong of us to say there is a consistent movement to online from off,” adding that “as offline rate cards drop they could reach a tipping point of efficiency.”
Carrick had quipped earlier that “offline would have to be free” for Hoseasons to rethink its shift towards the web.