Tracking online behaviour and the path to a travel purchase
With average online travel conversion rates of around 4%, it’s no wonder travel companies are looking throughout the funnel to see how they might get more out.
There are a number of well-publicised issues – the infrequency of trips, the siloed nature of the industry, slim margins and legacy technology.
Some of the larger companies have the money and the mindset to begin addressing this as borne out by Expedia calling itself a ‘pattern recognition’ business recently.
But, even when companies can access meaningful data, they often find it hard to know what to do with it.
Step forward B-Smark, a Dublin-based company, which began life in 2011 as a research project.
The company has developed MySmark to help travel businesses gather information on purchase intentions by asking people about their online behaviour during the purchase path.
Once armed with the information, the companies can work on improving recommendations of products and services to customers and hopefully drive up conversion.
The technology enables users to choose a reason they decided to search for, book or share, a particular product – in other words, what was their motivation (see infographic below).
A trial carried out with Irish Day Tours between December and March revealed some interesting results with about a quarter of users happy to provide the information and most saying it was because they were “curious.”
Other motivations around price or trust could also have been selected. And, the information can then be used to build up customer profiles, segment them and devise tailored offers.
The information can also be used to trigger emails with specific content, ancillary services or deals, again according to the purchase intention.
The usual thinking is that anything that puts obstacles up in front of the booking process should be removed, But, says B-Smark chief executive Nicola Farronato:
“There is a challenge in how you deploy this in the user interface but we were able to measure a 25% natural conversion in that call-to-action of people who are willing to express an intention.”
He also points out that the data allows companies to form more of a relationship with customers which is important in the hotels sector at the moment which is working to attract customers direct.
The MySmark technology could be used on a website as well as social media channels or information kiosk.
Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.
In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.
Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.