The travel sector is perfectly placed to take advantage of a growing divergence of utility products and experiential products sold online, says leading web analytics firm QuBit.
The London-based firm, which derives around 30% of its business from travel, believes that as personalisation takes hold, the need for professional human input into recommendation engines will be vital.
Speaking at a media round-table in London yesterday on the personalised web, Graham Cooke said QuBit’s role was to help firms make sense of the data they have and to come up with ways to ensure different customer segments are given the optimum experience, but that knowledgeable travel sellers should be used to fine-tune the machine algorithm’s used to drive up relevancy and therefore conversion.
This could reveal insights such as what products go with what, complementary destinations or activities, and the behaviour and needs of particular customer segments, which can be pumped into the online sales and marketing process to refine campaigns and avoid some of the aberrations associated with a purely data-based arithmetical calculations of likely behaviour.
“The change on the web today is that you have utility type businesses and experiential, said Cooke.
“Utility is about being able to find that product as quickly as possible – a very clinical experience. Amazon is going to represent 25% of all transactions online by 2016, they are a firm owner of that position. On the experiential side you have the emergence of many brands selling unique product and have a unique proposition. They control their supply chain and control that experience for the consumer.
“We see this sector as one that’s really going to flourish and emerge.”
One example given in travel was the boutique hotel collection Mr & Mrs Smith, but examples given in the world of fashion included Fab.com, which drives 50% of its traffic from social media, and Netaporter which has moved into publishing in a major way to use content to drive conversion.
Cooke said: “We see it in travel. There are utility purchases versus those that are about needing the experience of a holiday. We will see a lot more boutiques and brand-driven boutiques out there. It’s about finding problems [the consumer has], delivering solutions and delivering quickly.”
QuBit expects to see the next generation of Content Management Systems developed in the next five to 10 years move websites away from just being online catalogues.
“The world is actually going back to being more personal,” Cooke said. “It’s the personal web, the user web, all about understanding the customer. We will see that in multi-channel and online where the potential is for the high street to become an extension of you marketing channel. Get them in and drive them to your website as long-term customers.”