Thomas Cook has started using a new system to enable it to track customers who book online after visiting one of its agencies.
The system means agents are still credited with the sale if a client books online.
John Straw, chairman of the travel firm’s digital advisory board, told the Abta Travel Convention that Dream Catcher was proving a huge hit with agents.
The digital service allows shoppers to share their initial research with friend and family once they have made their initial choices with agents in store. This is then shared and the choices are sent to the customer’s email.
Straw could not reveal data on the impact on conversions but said: “It’s making a staggering difference to our business. We are slowly rolling it out.
“For the first time we can track when someone leaves the store and books a holiday online. As a direct result we pay commissions to those agents that originated those set of choices.
“That’s been quite revolutionary to many of our retail store managers.”
As well as the in-store/online development Cook has also moved to improve online conversion with a new question and answer facility.
Ask And Answer allows customers to get fast answers to any questions they have. Agents or reps can provide the answer. Straw said this was an attempt to improve content on the Cook website.
He said the industry average is just one conversion per 300 visits – a performance he believes is down to the staggeringly poor content available on travel websites.
This compares unfavourably to the global leader in this area TripAdvisor, which benefits for the vast amount of content it has largely produced for it by consumers.
Straw said in the first 12 weeks 4,200 questions were asked and that this has had a significant impact on the performance of the site.
“The conversion rate increased by 147% when we put Ask And Answer content on accommodation pages. The average booking value was up 9% and engagement time on site went up 127%.
“We are engaged in a very serious programme collecting content from as many reps as we possibly can to make sure we capture those potential buyers of our holidays.”
Straw predicted wearable technology will have a hugely transformative impact on travel in a very short space of time.
A new Field Trip app for Google Glass will open up opportunities for in-destination marketing and he highlighted Narrative Clip, a miniature camera that will automatically take and upload images.