Social booking platform Make It Social has brought in a new peer-to-peer commercial model it expects to become increasingly popular as the service establishes itself.
Eddie Robb, founder and chief executive, said peer-to-peer impressions costing between 50p and £2 were currently not as popular among clients as its flat 5% commission rate.
But he believes that as data builds showing how the platform creates groups and brings incremental bookings, paying for each invite sent to a member of users’ peer groups will become more popular.
“Commission is more popular right now because we do not have enough stats to back it up, but I expect peer-to-peer to become more prominent.
“It’s more of a marketing tool. When a friend invites a friend it’s much more powerful than other sorts of marketing.
“We look to really harness that peer-to-peer interaction – that personal invite from a friend saying ‘I want you to come on this trip with me’.”
Robb cited research which has shown peer-to-peer social media interactions have a trust ratio of 70%, whereas when they originate from a company that drops to just 10%.
Make It Social was launched a year ago and also offers a third commercial model; a fixed monthly fee which is dependent on each customer’s requirements.
It is currently working with a number of fellow Scottish travel firms including specialist operator Golf Kings and Skyscanner, which it has integrated with.
Urban Adventures and Encounters Travel are also about to go live, travel being one of the key sectors targeted by the firm. Ticketing is also seen as a sector with potential for Make it Social.
Robb said: “Since we launched at World Travel Market last year we have been focused pretty hard on travel as one of our major industries.”
A few additional consumer-facing services have been developed during the last year including a ‘voting for dates’ function to help groups decide which is the best date for them.
Through the Skyscanner integration groups are also given live pricing updates so they can see whether the flights they want have changed in price.
Make It Social works by offering customers of its clients a social button on product pages which fires a pop up in which the group can be created all within the clients’ site.
The group, once formed, can then carry on the conversation about the trip they are planning as well as talk to the travel company via a chat room or the app.
The platform is integrated with the travel firm’s back office so upgrades can be requested and payments can be made.
One of the core services Make It Social offers is that it takes individual payments off each person in the group, meaning an organiser will not be left out of pocket.
Robb said: “The integration with clients’ websites has got a little more advanced. When we have a new client we will integrate with their API and reservations system.
“That gives us their data and we will feed back any reservations or any information they might need directly back.”
Robb said Make It Social is a way for travel companies to capture the customer while browsing.
“A customer will browse around looking for something and they may share a URL or click a Facebook share, but once that’s done it’s hard for that company to tell what’s happened to that group.
“There is a lot of browsing going uncaptured. With us they click the button and start forming the group there and then. The company could then offer an extra incentive to close the deal.
“There is also the reminder to come back when there is some activity within the group. This is all about driving people back to the clients’ website.”
Make It Social has been working with a small number of beta testers since last year, but Robb said the firm was now emerging from start-up stage and ready to take the next step.
Robb said he sees the target market as young 18 to 35-year-olds groups of friends who do not want the hassle of organising a trip.
In terms of product it works with a wide variety, from package holidays to cinema tickets; any experience which can be enjoyed socially.
“Travel is key. Any sort of tour operator or online travel agent, we are ready to take them all on now. Our mission is to make the world a truly social place.
“While we love Facebook and everything it does we think there is a big hole there and we want to bridge the gap between the online social world and the online world.”