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5 Revenue optimising tips from experts in travel
In a recent webinar, Interlude, Barceló, Thomas Cook and Facebook share expert insight ahead of the EyeforTravel Revenue Optimisation & Growth Summit in Amsterdam later this year
From engaging with the consumer through personalisation techniques, implementing the correct pricing strategy and using technology data wisely, there are steps that travel brands can take to drive fresh revenues. Here are five insights from a recent webinar.
1. Put personalisation before price
‘Price’ is often viewed as a powerful marketing tool, but today personalisation is more important. Marta Varela, director of revenue strategy at Barcelo Hotels & Resorts, is clear that price is not the only factor to consider.
“We know that people will pay more for that personalised experience,” she says. Increasingly, in fact, the Spanish chain is seeing guests looking to customise their own personalised experience.
Ali Busacca, who heads up travel marketing for the EMEA region, at Facebook and Instagram, agrees that, “personalisation and giving someone what they want and at the right time actually matters more” than price. Facebook’s research backs this up, finding that 62% of consumers have chosen, recommended or even paid more for a personalised experience.
This indicates that the unbundling of services, as proposed by IHG and Amadeus, and outlined in a recent EyeforTravel white paper on loyalty, could be a viable way forward. In such a scenario, guests would be able to pick and choose their requirements from a drop down menu, in the way that airlines are already doing today.
2. Know your customer
It may be stating the obvious, but understanding the customer and delivering what they want is key. Something as simple as communicating via the channel of a customer’s choosing can make a difference. For example, Facebook has conducted research to establish how best to communicate with guests. Interestingly, this indicates that 63% of people would choose messaging a business over picking up the phone or sending an email.
3. Make marketing material truly targeted
Barcelo uses technology to understand how customers are searching for holidays and which resources and hotels they are interested in. By better understanding its customer demographic (and the choices that different nationalities make can vary widely) the company is much better positioned to deliver targeted advertisements. In Varela’s view, personalised pricing isn’t really the future but personalised presentation is. And, if you can choose which individuals to target with the right offers, then you are in business. Increasingly then, there is a strong link between revenue management, data and personalisation.
Busacca argues that Facebook’s tools such as hotel ads for retargeting or prospecting allow brands to focus on deliver the right product, to the right consumer at the right time. Busacca cited Melia Hotels as one success story. After using Facebook hotel ads, the group saw a 79% increase in overall cost of booking and a 6.7 x return on ad spend. More case studies can be found here.
4. Don’t ignore the visual
Facebook and Instagram have the advantage of having a “tonne of incredible users that showcase levels of intent on our platform,” says Busacca. In fact, travel is the most talked about topic on Facebook, and is the number 1 interest on Instagram. People are constantly asking for recommendations, and liking friends’ recent holiday snaps, looking at different locations and at a range of properties. By applying all of these levels of intent, a business can actually start to figure out where people want to go and the type of property or flight they are looking for. In addition, Busacca stresses that consumer behaviour shows that they want to see a range of different images in order to make their decision. Therefore, it is important not to ignore the visual.
5. Invest in resources, delve into data
Not every organisation has the resources of Facebook but Laura Lo Mascolo, the CEO of Interlude Hotels and Resorts, takes data seriously. Within her small analytical team of five, Lo Mascolo acts as the company statistician and gathers data, while her colleagues take care of social media and customer care, and the central reservation system. For Lo Mascolo, there is no doubt that access to data and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are vital tools in producing more accurate forecasts, even for a small organisation like Interlude. Her goal is to merge statistical modelling with something more empirical to find the middle ground.
For Thomas Cook, which has 200 leisure hotels and works with a range of third parties, a data-collecting project, which began three years ago, remains work in progress. Like all organisations, a key goal is to use data to recognise guest’s attitudes, and understand the time it takes to book. “We analyse data and are and we are always trying to reduce the time of booking,” stresses Cynthia Reitano, Revenue Director, Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts.
As Mascolo explains, data allows you to actually understand the ‘attitude’ of guests, thus making personalised experiences a reality.