SAScon Market Focus – Travel - Neil Hardy

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  • Hello My name Neil Hardy – Head Of E Commerce for Co-operative Travel based here in Manchester. This presentation shows you some of the things we have done and the returns we are seeing to date.
  • Our goal is To be the UK’s leading independent online travel agency offering the widest choice and very best deals in the market at the lowest prices.
  • To increase the number of online customers booking holidays per year. To continuously improve Natural Search’s success. (Success will be measured by the increase in traffic Year on Year.) To improve online conversion rate. To effectively support offline marketing activity.
  • The obvious Economic issues do have an impact on sales. Consumers are heavily influenced by what they see on the news. If any big job losses are announced we do see an impact on sales. Interesting sporting events also have a big impact. World cup took its toll on sales and also Champions league/ International matches has an impact on sales/visitors.. Sunny days are great from everyone apart from online sales. We monitor the weather forecast each week to gauge what sales will be like. Rain /Snow are great… sun is not! Natural Disasters also have a massive impact on sales ..Volcanic Ash last year put the end to several companies. Finally competitors .. Several brands have collapsed over the last couple of years XL Airways, Kiss Flights, Goldtrail and Monster Travel to name a couple. This all has an impact on consumer confidence.
  • In 2010 our customers are slightly higher on the female gender and as you can see 34% are over 55+. We have been working on our social strategy also in 2011 and as you can see at the bottom the ages of the younger market has increase. I’ll cover more on social later.
  • Its not all bad news though as some areas are seeing good growth in terms of searches
  • Keyword list needs to be focused . Greater results can be achieved on a smaller number of keywords. Travel is also very seasonal with key dates that consumers have to travel on be it for school or family reasons. With this in mind we now focus 5/6months in advance of peak booking months . Now we are planning for winter destinations
  • We have seen a large growth in natural traffic as you can see here. Its been tough but we have achieved a small number of position 1 keywords on the first page for some generic terms like package holidays and cheap Majorca holidays . High volume terms giving great brand exposure.
  • However despite tough market conditions as I outlined previously, we have seen strong year-on-year growth in overall natural search traffic, both brand and non-brand. Brand as you can see seems to drive a higher % of traffic in the Summer, but to date 2011 brand is tracking the same % as 2011 albeit with good growth.
  • Direct response speaks for itself. If its working we put more funding into this. We continually test , new destinations, resorts and are trying hotels and holiday booking reference numbers that are in brochure, (same concept as consumers searching for a TV by the model number) Flexible budgets are key - We know sales increase when its raining here so try and make the most of this opportunity. TV programmes on core destinations can inspire people so increase your exposure so we also look at TV schedules. Take advantage of good exchange rates if dollar or euro are doing well Be prepared – we have been faced with so many challenges as mentioned earlier however we need to remain alert as the travel industry is impacted by so many different factors. We need to be ready for anything
  • Mediacom North our partner have helped us see a revenue growth of 64% YOY which resulted in a 43% increase in ROI – 2010. 2011 is tracking similar to 2010 at present but we expect this to increase in Peak trading.
  • Social media plays a vital part in our overall digital strategy. We not only represent our web business but also our retail estate . Face book and Twitter are main two brands… Facebook We now have 6200 on Facebook and 2100 on Twitter.
  • We have seen some very encouraging results with surveys, polls, questions, Travel Tips and Travel Quizzes
  • Competitions are aimed to create a viral effect by having a tiered structure. For example at 3,500 Likes you win portable speakers -5,000 win digital camera -6,500 win £100 travel voucher -8,000 eBook reader etc So people are incentivised to tell their friends about the competition. We have also been active on Facebook with a branding and awareness campaign with 6000 clicks driven from the face book page to the main site.
  • Don’t be corporate - give your brand a personality They like to hear about the latest travel news They like to ask us questions They like to ask us about holiday enquires They like interesting and engaging content They like competitions and exclusive deals Respond to both positive and negative comments The right answer is better than a fast answer
  • The final piece of work we looked at was usability of the booking journey. In 2010 we commissioned a survey with e digital where 2000 consumers looked at our booking journey. From the feedback it was clear we needed to look at this as a priority. We had a number of issues that were indentified The cheapest holiday one didn’t stand out on the page. Prices include pence and can be difficult read Hotel star rating was low contrast (yellow on orange) Hotel/location names in all lowercase letters is not intuitive We came up with a range of new fresh designs with our partner I spy, that we finally agreed on 2 plus the original for the trial.
  • Here are the new version 1 that featured Cleaner layout “ At a glance” cheapest price Expandable alternative flights and alternative accommodation options Standard-colour link Clearly highlighted Trip Advisor reviews Variation 2 was a simplified version of Variation 1. It featured a bigger image, no accommodation options or “book now” buttons but a more prominent link to the hotel details page where accommodation could be selected
  • The test has been great and we have seen a 15.3% increase in conversion. As you can see from the trial version 2 (yellow) was stopped and the original and new version went head to head Going forward there is still lots to do and we’ll be looking at several ideas including Ability to shortlist and compare holidays and save search results Faster page load time Better quality of images Clarity of price and accommodation type Ability to edit basket at any stage in the booking process User reviews Better cross-linking with destination guides and a More flexible search form (e.g. search by country only, departures from any London airport)
  • So that’s it really. Lots of things happening that are having a truly great effect on our business. Thanks for listening.
  • SAScon Market Focus – Travel - Neil Hardy

    1. 1. SASCON 2011 19 th May 2011 Neil Hardy – Head Of E Commerce
    2. 2. Our Goal <ul><li>To be the UK’s leading independent online travel agency offering the widest choice and very best deals in the market at the lowest prices. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Aims & Objectives <ul><li>To increase the number of online customers booking holidays per year. </li></ul><ul><li>To continuously improve Natural Search’s success. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Success will be measured by the increase in traffic Year on Year.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To configure website analytics tracking. </li></ul><ul><li>To improve online conversion rate. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Marketplace <ul><li>Another tough trading year for 2011 to date however seeing some ‘shoots’ in sales </li></ul><ul><li>Number of factors that put pressure on business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sporting Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weather Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural Disaster Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitors Impact </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Audience Profile 2010 v 2011
    6. 6. Travel Trends 2011 v 2010 <ul><li>Visitors up 27% and Pages up 51% YOY to end May </li></ul><ul><li>Some interesting search trends are emerging. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All Inclusive Holidays up 227% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheap Holidays up 80% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canary Islands up 54% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Majorca up 22% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disneyland Paris up 60% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK up 38% </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Natural Search Tactics <ul><li>Revise keyword list </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced down from over 50 to a more manageable list of around 25 keywords. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identify the seasonal terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>mainly destination themed terms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>approach of working 5-6 months in advance and focus key date trends </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Niche destinations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less competition </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Overall Natural Search Results – Visits YOY
    9. 9. Non Brand Natural Search Results – Visits YOY
    10. 10. Paid Search Strategy <ul><li>Direct response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on ROI as opposed to brand exposure </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continuously test </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New destinations, resorts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Flexible budgets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capitalise on bad weather in the UK </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media coverage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exchange rates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be prepared! </li></ul>
    11. 11. Paid Search Results – ROI YOY
    12. 12. Social Media <ul><li>Established Facebook and Twitter presence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>6,245 Likes on Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2,114 followers on Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Actively engaging with fans </li></ul><ul><li>Building up strong membership across platforms </li></ul>
    13. 13. Engaging Interactions
    14. 14. Social Media Results <ul><li>Competition </li></ul><ul><li>Ran competition on Facebook to win a 32” LCD TV </li></ul><ul><li>Aim to increase number of fans and create </li></ul><ul><li>a viral campaign </li></ul><ul><li>2,113 entries with email addresses for </li></ul><ul><li>cross marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook Advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Branding and awareness campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Target users who have a interest in Travel and The Co-operative Travel </li></ul><ul><li>29m Impressions served and 6k clicks driven to Facebook page </li></ul>
    15. 15. Social Media - Our Learning's <ul><li>Don’t be corporate - give your brand a personality </li></ul><ul><li>They like to hear about the latest travel news </li></ul><ul><li>They like to ask us questions </li></ul><ul><li>They like to ask us about holiday enquires </li></ul><ul><li>They like interesting and engaging content </li></ul><ul><li>They like competitions and exclusive deals </li></ul><ul><li>Respond to both positive and negative comments </li></ul><ul><li>The right answer is better than a fast answer </li></ul>
    16. 16. Conversion Optimisation <ul><li>Focused on search result page first as this was weakest from eDigital survey of 2000 users. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>cheapest one didn’t stand out on the page. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prices include pence and can be difficult read </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hotel star rating was low contrast (yellow on orange) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hotel/location names in all lowercase letters is not intuitive. </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Conversion Optimisation
    18. 18. Conversion Optimisation Results
    19. 19. What’s Next? <ul><li>2011… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile Application & Templates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile Search Campaigns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personalised Content on Episerver </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(via keyword, location, history, etc) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Thank You

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