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Assessing the Need for Business IntelligenceSolutions in the Online Travel IndustryThe need to remain competitive for busi...
There is growing complexity now with how customers find and book travel today. Some new emergingtrends are around rapid ad...
solution through which they can control their pricing as well as execute an analytics based       competitive pricing stra...
With rumbido, hotels, OTAs, airlines and travel companies can go beyond branding on networking sites andbuild a powerful o...
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Assessing the Need for Business Intelligence Solutions in the Online Travel Industry

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The need to remain competitive for businesses in the online travel sector is paramount as the market perception of travel products has been commoditized. With so many travel sites offering similar services and products, consumers have a much more comprehensive and transparent availability of information to make a thoughtful purchasing decision.

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Assessing the Need for Business Intelligence Solutions in the Online Travel Industry

  1. 1. Assessing the Need for Business IntelligenceSolutions in the Online Travel IndustryThe need to remain competitive for businesses in the online travel sector is paramount as the marketperception of travel products has been commoditized. With so many travel sites offering similar servicesand products, consumers have a much more comprehensive and transparent availability of information tomake a thoughtful purchasing decision. “The importance of measuring your competitiveness thus becomes of paramount importance to sustain and grow your market share in the markets you serve,” says Bhanu Chopra, CEO of travel technology company RateGain. The six-year old company has been expanding its offerings. RateGain offers its solutions under its market intelligence, channel distribution and social networkmarketing suite of products for the travel and hospitality sector.“Our business has evolved from being a competitive intelligence provider to more of a marketintelligence and distribution solutions provider to the online travel industry. Our initial solutionswere around competitive intelligence but we have invested in providing innovative solutions inmeasuring and monitoring the impact of social media and reviews,” Bhanu Chopra told EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta in an interview.Bhanu spoke about the need for business intelligence solutions, the maturity level of such solutions, hiscompany’s new referral marketing platform and related issues. Excerpts:Can you elaborate on how has the need for business intelligence solutions evolved in the online travelindustry for various players?Bhanu Chopra:The area of business intelligence is quite vast and it can apply to the online travel industry in multiple ways.Within the context of BI tools that RateGain offers today, it is clear that in the competitive online travelworld, both suppliers and intermediaries are vying aggressively for that online customer. In any businessand much more in online travel business the need to be competitive is paramount as the market perceptionof travel products has been commoditized. With so many travel sites offering similar services and products,consumers have a much more comprehensive and transparent availability of information to make athoughtful purchasing decision. The importance of measuring your competitiveness thus becomes ofparamount importance to sustain and grow your market share in the markets you serve.
  2. 2. There is growing complexity now with how customers find and book travel today. Some new emergingtrends are around rapid adoption of mobile to look and book travel, use of trip planning sites, hotel reviewsbecoming of vital importance on how consumers book travel (about 85% use reviews to bookaccommodation based on recent studies).In addition Facebook and Twitter are becoming extremely important for businesses to monitor and measurebrand perception and respond on a real-time basis to potentially adverse comments on these powerfulplatforms. It is important to monitor and measure the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns andsee if the new online mediums provide a ROI.How has your company focused on differentiating its offerings in the last couple of years?Bhanu Chopra:We have tried to approach business intelligence in a holistic way to assist companies measure the impact oftheir overall online strategy. Our business has evolved from being a competitive intelligence provider tomore of a market intelligence and distribution solutions provider to the online travel industry. Our initialsolutions were around competitive intelligence but we have invested in providing innovative solutions inmeasuring and monitoring the impact of social media and reviews.Our recent product launch Rumbido, has found a lot of excitement in the marketplace on how to actuallymonetize the power of social networks. In a nutshell, I think our agility and ability to listen to market needshas enabled us to continuously innovate and unveil new solutions to help address the changing marketneeds.In addition we have solidified our customer relationships with high level of customization, customer focusand a consultative approach instead of a service approach. All these are complimented with a round-the-clock post sales support with a quick turnaround service delivery.How do you assess the maturity level of BI solutions as far as the travel industry is concerned? Whatnew trends have you witnessed in this arena?Bhanu Chopra:My rating would be medium to low-high i.e. B+ to A-. Even after 6 years and having some of the top travelcompanies as our clients, we still feel the industry as such hasn’t matured. Although in the recent timessome of the mid-market players have shown interest, however the demand or rather requirement ofbusiness intelligence solutions is much more apt for bigger players in the industry.Some of the noticeable trends that we have witnessed in our interaction with industry players and insidersare: • There is a growing demand from industry players to integrate business intelligence with their existing or new revenue management systems. These companies are looking for an integrated
  3. 3. solution through which they can control their pricing as well as execute an analytics based competitive pricing strategy. This is certainly seen as the next phase where suite of business intelligence solutions in travel industry can take the next leap and transform as an integrated solution as per the changing market demand. • Need to monitor social media networks and its effectiveness • Importance of monitoring and responding to reviews in the decision making process of consumers.The industry has witnessed the emergence of a new referral marketing platform that intends to reachout to friends, families and followers of existing customers on different social networks. How do youexpect your solution to fare in the next year or so?Bhanu Chopra:Social media offers a huge bill board effect which we can’t be over-looked. There are numerous researchstudies available that prove this point that the probability of buying any product increases if it is beingreferred by a close friend, relative or peer. Increased popularity of consumer review sites and the waypeople contribute and trust on the reviews posted there, authenticate this claim that the next phase ofsocial media marketing will be majorly dependent on referrals and peer recommendation. Anotherinteresting aspect here is that until now social networks were mainly used to create a buzz and a widerbrand visibility. This new angle is capable of actually converting the buzz and brand awareness to newcustomer acquisition.As more and more social network sites are integrating review sections in their offerings, we see a brightfuture for the adoption of this kind of a solution not only by the companies but also the consumers. And tokeep consumers motivated who are actually acting as brand ambassadors, we added a commission anglefor all successful referrals.We expect hotel chains, mid & large online travel agents as well as marketing and advertising agenciescatering to travel industry as the major adopters of this new social network referral marketing platform.What factors did you take into consideration before launching this solution?Bhanu Chopra:Social media is one of the most popular buzzwords these days. Every single travel and hospitality companyis on these platforms and ensuring their presence is felt. However, when we interacted with some of thesecompanies we found that unanimously they all felt the need of a solution that can take the existing socialmedia marketing campaigns from just a mere buzz generating vehicle to a lead generation platform.Converting buzz to sales or say monetizing social media is the need of the hour. Taking this insight as thecore solution, we designed rumbido, our proprietary social media referral marketing solution. In fact, weeven have a patent pending for rumbido. It engages and rewards your customers to promote your offeringwithin their social networks, thereby creating buzz for your brand, traffic and sales for your business.
  4. 4. With rumbido, hotels, OTAs, airlines and travel companies can go beyond branding on networking sites andbuild a powerful online referral program. It helps them to acquire new customers and convert them intobrand ambassadors and their networks into a new, cost effective channel of distribution.A hotelier told me: the referral is only going to influence business for selective hotels who have astrong product and consumer focus. Also the key will be the level of electronic engagement from thehotel with the consumer. Again the channel mix is a key driver here. Also the luxury segment maygain more than the budget segment as a consumer always want to showcase about the prestigeassociated with the same in social networks. What’s your viewpoint regarding the same?Bhanu Chopra:Well, it all depends on the category of company. Be it a luxury brand or a budget brand, their customershave their own personal preferences. E.g. A luxury brand customer would be encouraged to share his worldclass experiences with his peer group to advertise the fact that he/she had stayed in such a luxuriousproperty whereas a budget brand customer would love to inform his peer group about the exciting offer heavailed and how it is a great deal for them to lap up too. Hence, it the specialty and uniqueness of the brandthat will be the compelling and selling point for/to its customers.

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