Developer says news shared-screen product boosts sales by call centre agents. Lee Hayhurst reports
Is there a need for a Campaign for Better Content in Travel?
Yes, according to one leading travel technologist, whose company is showcasing a new product aimed at call centres at this year’s WTM.
Olly Wenn, managing director of Leeds-based Zolv, says he’s constantly frustrated by the poor quality of content on travel websites.
“It’s not 1998 anymore,” he says.
“I shouldn’t be clicking on a thumbnail and just getting something that’s a little bit bigger: I should be getting a fantastic high-res photo.
“We are in an industry selling a not particularly tangible product. A holiday is totally aspirational. The mental picture of what you are going to experience is all in the mind. If you show people a photograph, that’s really rather seductive.”
Wenn believes the industry has not really modernised the way it creates and produces content from the days when it used brochures as the main form of promotion.
He says he knows of some firms which have had thousands of shots taken of product, only to choose and keep one or two for the brochure.
These print-resolution files have then been configured for use on first-generation websites but the original high-resolution versions have not been kept.
Wenn says: “Along came the web and, due to technical constraints, these beautiful images were crushed down to 150KB file sizes to fit on web pages.”
Wenn credits some luxury brands with doing a good job with imagery but says the same standards should be achieved for mainstream holiday product too.
“You can take something as mainstream as a Torquay B&B and show the difference between the lower end and more quality end of the market,” he says. “Even for really mundane details, different people will explain them in different ways, so if you expect everyone to get the same picture it’s not going to happen.
“In the call centre you lose the ability to sell through brochures. What we are doing with our new SalesAssist system is putting that capability back in the sales process.”
SalesAssist, Zolv’s new product for call centres, allows the agent and the customer to collaborate in a shared session on a screen, be it a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
This allows the agent to send imagery and other content, such as video or forms, to the customer.
The technology therefore has the potential to make the agent more productive by directing the customer to the content they are interested in.
Wenn adds: “In a brochure you have just one or two slots for imagery. It has not really filtered through to the content owners that there are other channels to push this content out.
“SalesAssist’s success depends on the quality of the assets, but the same applies for anyone with a website.”
Some suppliers have legacy issues to do with ownership and licensing of high-resolution content from image libraries.
Wenn says SalesAssist is being tested in live environments, with a number of Zolv clients having started trialling the system earlier this year.
It is also developing a version for the cruise market, the difference being it will provide travel agents with access to a platform with content from cruise operators pre-loaded.
Zolv hopes to persuade cruise operators to take on much of the responsibility for uploading the content about their ships and destinations.
“We have started thinking about where else we could go with SalesAssist,” adds Wenn. “Ultimately, we think it’s for applications in all sorts of retail environments, but we started with travel because that’s what we know.
“There were a number of things on the checklist before we decided which particular vertical was right for it. First there has to be curated content.
“Cruise was one area where we thought we would not have to wait long for all the cruise lines to sign up because there is a finite number of them. Ultimately, it’s manageable.”
Other tour operators which have their own content are also the first target market, and when the system hits a critical mass it could then be opened up more widely to agents.
“There are a number of other things we are looking to add,” says Wenn.
“The first thing to establish is to have a good connection between consumer and agent. Once that consumer is connected, if a sale is completed on that call, you can drop a bunch of completion cookies to Google so we can attribute that sale back to PPC spend.
“We are not the only people doing that sort of multi-channel attribution, but we are doing it in a different way.
“In a call centre you may talk about three or four things and sell one, but there is no record about what you discussed with the customers. With SalesAssist, everything you talk about is logged so there is much more analytics about what is not being bought.”
SalesAssist also helps agents create personalised follow-up emails based on the conversation using the assets to create bespoke offers rather than generic templates.
“It’s quicker because all of that content you would push in to that email is available on screen, it’s just a case of drag and drop into the holes.”