Opodo continues move away from airline roots

Opodo will embark on a high-profile marketing strategy next year as it strives to shed its image as an air-dominated online agency.

UK country manager Neil Mott admitted shifting its perception as a flight-only specialist remained one of the major challenges facing the company. But he stressed it was making progress.

Mott said the aim was also to raise the brand identity and, critically, to ensure it was in the “consideration mindset” of online shoppers.
The comments followed research from Trip-Vision and PricewaterhouseCoopers which showed public awareness of Opodo is lagging well behind its online rivals.

Whereas Opodo has 25% awareness, lastminute hovers around 70%, Expedia 60% and ebookers 40%.
Mott conceded admitted more needs to be done.

“We need to raise the awareness but you can’t forget that lastminute launched in 1998 and were the darlings of the dot com boom,” said Mott. “We didn’t launch until 2002 so were late to market.

“And lastminute’s brand recognition won’t get much higher than it is now. But we will generate gross sales of one billion euros (£680 million) this year so clearly some people know and understand us.”

Key to Opodo’s future strategy is to distance itself from its airline roots, said Mott. Set-up by nine airlines, flight sales generated 95% of its business.

“But it’s now 65% and we will continue to invest in non-air content in coming years,” he told Travolution. “You’ll see us treating air as what I call the milk in the supermarket. People know they sell milk, like they know we sell air.

“Next year we will have significant investment in offline and online marketing telling people we do packages and hotels. We also have our own product and are launching a dynamic packaging system in the new year.”

Mott stressed however that it was not about “outspending” rivals.

“It’s about being in the consideration mindset of the customer,” he explained. “There is little brand loyalty. People shop around and search between four and six websites. We need to be in that mix.”

Mott added that it is attempting to build a degree of loyalty through Opodo Special Hotels – properties that are personally recommended by the agency.

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