Build from the ground up to get personal, says Travelsupermaket’s Darvey

Online travel agencies (OTAs) businesses built on legacy technology will find it increasingly difficult to attract and convert shoppers, according to a senior industry executive.

Vic Darvey, managing director new business for Travelsupermarket, told delegates at Monday’s Travolution Summit in London that using open source standards is the only way offers can be tailor made for individuals.

He revealed the demand for personalised travel offers had forced Travelsupermarket to transform its technology base.

“We are building from the ground up with open source technology as we feel it’s the only way we can address the personalisation issue,” he said. 

Darvey said the introduction of new business processes were vital if OTAs wanted to collate the best possible data about customers.

“This year in the UK we will probably have about 55 million unique users. Our job has to be to segment the audience and pull the right content.

“There is clearly a need for having the software that enables you to recognise who is visiting the website. Then you can start to inspire.”

Darvey said the success of conversions depended entirely on understanding customer behaviour so relevant search results can be returned.

“Maybe you travel with your children, friends or for your business needs. If we understand that we can to much better targeting.”

Darvey cited Google insight which suggests customers will visit 22 websites before buying a holiday [recently it has been reported that this figure has gone down to around 11].

He called the statistic “striking” and admitted he had spent the last year trying to understand the role Travelsupermarket played in the shopping process. He called it “a difficult marketplace”.

“Of those 22 site visits they may come to our website four times. And even when they’ve found the right holiday at the right price, some 50% of people continue to search for a better deal.

“Personalisation is the first step to validation. They want inspiration and validation. They want to know what peers are booking and what price.”

Darvey also said that 40% of customers do not know where they want to travel to when the start the shopping process.

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