Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Measuring and making the most of consumer data


Travel brands are sitting on huge value in their databases but are yet to unlock its full potential, which will be game changing

Virtually every consumer-facing travel brand is capturing critical data constantly from their site visitors but many are struggling to maximise its value says EyeforTravel and Datumize’s new Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper. This is because of the reams of information that are being constantly created across multiple channels and the need to be always on and live. These factors often prevent travel companies from getting down to the key metrics that matter and being able to fully extract and study them.

“Travel companies normally only have access to converted sales and aren’t able to track all the requests that customers are making though channels,” explains Datumize’s head of marketing Carlota Feliu.

“Some of them they can track, for example, through their own website. But the vast majority they are not capable of tracking this data with the technologies they are using. Everything that you want to do in demand forecasting starts with good data and good knowledge of your customers – without this, you won’t be able to understand demand, predict it, or increase it,” says Feliu.

She points to several key areas where brands can start to interrogate their data:
Inventory: Do you have the right offer at the right price in each area?
Availability: Do you have the stock available to action all requests, and in the right price range?
Experience: Are all software links in the chain performing as they should for a quick, smooth booking?

Vueling Airlines, a Spanish, low-cost provider, has around five million search queries a day, 50% of which come directly from customers and 50% from online travel agencies and other tour operators. But since its business goal is to answer all enquiries for a flight in a second or less, it was struggling to store and make use of all this demand data.

Jonathan Guerrero Corcho, innovation manager, explains that a Datumize solution – which monitors everything without adding any code to the main process or slowing anything down – means that the business can now understand more which kinds of routes and dates are most in-demand, with negligible noticeable effects to end users.

“We can see if a route is being asked for more times than we are operating on for those days and we can not only adjust the current schedule but we can adjust the next schedule,” he says. “We can say ‘this route is better to operate on Tuesday than Monday, as the numbers are saying that this route is more requested on Tuesday.’”

This kind of learning is particularly important for a business that does not operate the same flights each day, but a limited number of times a week.

For more case studies of brands that have driven performance gains from better utilisation of data, download the free white paper now.Demand-based analytics promise a step-change in travel brands’ capabilities, unlocking huge insights that will allow brands to better target consumers, build superior products and adjust faster to changing patterns. To understand how to unlock the value contained in demand-based data, download the Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper now! It includes:
  • Real-world examples and case studies
  • Industry survey data
  • Data-based techniques and areas of focus that can improve business performance immediately
  • Expert insight.

This white paper features insights from:
  • Europcar
  • IHG
  • The Travel Corporation
  • Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts
  • Vueling
  • W2M.

Monday, 18 February 2019

How simple measurements can make a big difference to travel brands’ performance

Travel brands can make huge leaps in performance through relatively simple measurements and metrics finds new white paper

Rigorously monitoring even the most basic of demand-based data can make a critical difference to overall performance says EyeforTravel and Datumize’s new Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper, which is available to download now. The paper finds tracking own-site searches, business-to-business requests, drop-outs across the funnel and service availability can result in major uplifts to bookings.

“All companies know what they sell – but they don’t know what they don’t sell,” says Josep Maria Gomis, Travel Solutions Architect, at Datumize. He suggests that travel brands can grab uplifts in conversions quickly by monitoring simple elements such as geographies for where requests are received. “When we deployed our solution with one of our clients five years ago, for example, we found that the first region they received requests for was Spain.” The sales director knew this already, and he was also blasé about the discovery that the second most common type of request was for inventory in France. But the fourth region – to his astonishment – was China. “He said – ‘you are wrong – we are not selling in China!’” says Gomis. “And we said, ‘you are not selling because you don’t have a product, but this is the fourth most popular market for which you receive requests. You should have a product for them! We consider this a lost sale.’ And after a month they started offering products for China. Profits went up.”

Another way of finding these lost sales and improving business performance quickly through monitoring requests is looking at the languages used: “One of our customers discovered that people were looking for products on its Polish webpage but typing in queries in the German language,” says Datumize founder Nacho Lafuente. “This might seem like a stupid case but it’s tens of thousands of euros that you are not converting. If you are looking for ‘Crete’, a Greek island, on a Polish page, then the result is not found.” Analysing requests can find that some customers are not finding products that you have available because of a language gap. Not every destination is the same in every language, which leaves an obvious measurement metric to judge whether the offering matches what your clients are searching for.

Demand-based analytics create opportunities to match a brand’s product with the true picture of what customers want and are looking for.  

Measuring relatively simple metrics, such as those above, also gives brands an opportunity to search for patterns and critically when anomalies occur in those patterns. For Spanish tour operator W2M, which receives 250 million availability requests per day, finding the mismatches has been a key driver of business performance. W2M has set up some automatic alarms to flag up higher-than-expected error ratios, so the IT team can respond immediately. “We went from a 10% level of error to under 5%,” says Ernesto Sigg Rodríguez, head of clients and supplier performance. “I would say that represents between 5% and 10% growth in terms of sales,” which has made major difference to his business where margins are very slim.

Making dynamic changes and working across a business to implement them requires constant inputs, says Lafuente. “When you are dealing with a highly competitive business such as travel, margins are so low that they need to squeeze [every] euro,” he says. “It’s not only about having a general understanding or perception of how things are going. You need to photograph every single minute and have alarms for things if they break certain thresholds.”

Demand-based analytics promise a step-change in travel brands’ capabilities, unlocking huge insights that will allow brands to better target consumers, build superior products and adjust faster to changing patterns. To understand how to unlock the value contained in demand-based data, download the Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper now! It includes:
  • Real-world examples and case studies
  • Industry survey data
  • Data-based techniques and areas of focus that can improve business performance immediately
  • Expert insight.

This white paper features insights from:
  • Europcar
  • IHG
  • The Travel Corporation
  • Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts
  • Vueling
  • W2M.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Why demand-based data matters

Demand-based analytics promise a step-change in travel brands’ capabilities, unlocking huge insights that will allow brands to better target consumers, build superior products and adjust faster to changing patterns says new research

Demand-based data is increasingly important and can allow travel brands to become both more agile in the short-term and better prepared for long-term trends according to the new Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper from EyeforTravel and Datumize, which is free to download now. Looking at ongoing demand patterns will arm travel brands with a wide-range of capabilities, such as more responsive marketing, better-adjusted pricing, more personalised products, superior forecasting capabilities and increased planning capabilities.

This kind of data is of utmost importance to a youth brand like Contiki, part of The Travel Corporation’s agglomeration of 30 international brands. Raj Dhawan, senior executive, technology at The Travel Corporation, explains that understanding and forecasting demand is critical to keeping Contiki’s catalogue of offerings appealing and up-to-date.

“The one area that we look at regularly is search terms on our website – the cities and countries where people are searching,” he explains. “That may result in us culling some trips and destinations or increasing our inventory on those destinations.

“There are areas and destinations that are hot in the market versus those that are not, and every year that changes a bit. Based on that, our product changes to some extent, with variations that could appeal to the audience that we have.”

Building on this monitoring, the business is experimenting with a machine learning pilot to give these learnings a concrete and immediate use: Depending on patterns of searches, for example for a particular area or cost bracket, Contiki customers will see a website personalised for their type of customer.

“When people search for certain terms, the website is curated based on this,” says Dhawan. “That’s something we are piloting, and that uses machine learning and the search product on the website.”

This is just one example of the insights from brands featured in the white paper. Download the full research now to get more from industry leaders, including Europcar, IHG, Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts, Vueling and W2M.

Demand-based analytics promise a step-change in travel brands’ capabilities, unlocking huge insights that will allow brands to better target consumers, build superior products and adjust faster to changing patterns. To understand how to unlock the value contained in demand-based data, download the Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper now! It includes:
  • Real-world examples and case studies
  • Industry survey data
  • Data-based techniques and areas of focus that can improve business performance immediately
  • Expert insight.

This white paper features insights from:
  • Europcar
  • IHG
  • The Travel Corporation
  • Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts
  • Vueling
  • W2M.


Monday, 11 February 2019

Are travel companies ready for the digital revolution?

Travel companies are struggling to transform themselves for the digital age, with digital transformation, technological and data siloes and internal data quality their top three internal challenges

According to the World Economic Forum, digitisation in the aviation, travel and tourism industries is expected to create up to USD305 billion in value through increased profitability up to 2025. This should make digitisation a key priority for the travel industry, however, achieving a strong platform to do so is proving difficult for travel brands. This is one of the findings from the new Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper from EyeforTravel and Datumize, which is free to download now.

In a major survey of the industry featured in the white paper, travel suppliers (accommodation, car hire, cruise, ground transport, airlines & tour operators) said that their greatest internal issue is digital transformation (34.4% of respondents). This is followed by technological alignment (30.5%) and the perennial concern of data siloes and internal data quality (29%), both of which are critical to achieving a digital brand fit for the 21st Century.  

“Our data and the industry interviews conducted for this white paper suggests that a significant proportion of the travel industry is struggling to construct the necessary infrastructure to create strong digital brands,” said Alex Hadwick, Head of Research for EyeforTravel. “Stringent data practices increasingly underpin the modern travel sector, which is emphasised by our finding that the most important trend for travel suppliers right now is GDPR and cyber security, followed by big data and analytics. There is huge value to be unlocked but brands need to get the basics right first by complying with regulations, creating secure, structured and accessible databases and measuring the right metrics.”

The research recommends that brands move data into the cloud and focus on getting a picture of total demand. This is the approach of hotel giant IHG: “Before we had a big data platform, we weren’t able to store and analyze our availability requests,” said Jeff Garber, vice president of revenue management systems at IHG during the EyeforTravel 2018 Digital Data Europe conference. “We had a lot of information about reservations, and customers that had made reservations. As we bring more data into that big data platform, we can really understand the choice model. Our next step is merchandising and being smarter about what people aren’t buying so that we can reduce the clutter we are showing to them.”

Demand-based analytics promise a step-change in travel brands’ capabilities, unlocking huge insights that will allow brands to better target consumers, build superior products and adjust faster to changing patterns. To understand how to unlock the value contained in demand-based data, download the Understanding Customer Behavior Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper now! It includes:
  • Real-world examples and case studies
  • Industry survey data
  • Data-based techniques and areas of focus that can improve business performance immediately
  • Expert insight.

This white paper features insights from:
  • Europcar
  • IHG
  • The Travel Corporation
  • Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts
  • Vueling
  • W2M.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Hotels are losing out on metasearch

Hotels need to improve their competitive performance and monitoring of metasearch channels finds new research. 



Hotels aren’t bidding enough on metasearch sites or monitoring the space effectively, affecting their bottom lines and brand loyalty, says EyeforTravel and Fornova’s new The State of Hospitality Distribution: Metasearch white paper, which is free to download now.

Data from the white paper drawn from nearly 10 million searches on meta engines in 2018 reveals that just 34% of bids monitored featured a direct link posted by a hotel.

Across March, April, and May 2018, less than a third of the shops made by data partner Fornova on meta sites had a direct hotel option being displayed. This rate reached a low of 18% in March 2018 and rose to a high of 28% of shops made in May. Ranking for hotels was also low on the sites monitored, with hotels’ bids coming in at the sixth-ranked option on average in May 2018.

This is allowing OTAs to dominate the space, one which is increasingly crucial for attracting consumers. More than 90% of consumers report using meta sites for price comparison when booking accommodation but the vast majority of bids and outbound traffic from these hugely popular sites, including Google, TripAdvisor, and trivago are benefitting Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) finds the white paper.

Furthermore, hotels are being undercut by both their contracted OTA partners and by third parties working without agreements. The research finds that contracted OTAs are undercutting by an average of 5-6% on meta sites and by an even higher 10-11% by non-contracted OTAs. This means the consumer, who is largely driven by value, is frequently seeing better rates than hotels direct bids, meaning wasted spend and lost data and brand loyalty. When the consumer is searching 14 days or less out from their stay, the research found that they would see a lower bid the majority of the time from multiple actors.

This is a battle for hotels as the average hotel usually falls short of the labour and technological resources to do so. Furthermore, as Fornova CEO Dori Stein points out, there’s no way for a hotel’s revenue or e-commerce manager to know what meta engines are showing their guests in different countries because of the varying IP addresses. “Unless the hotel has a way to monitor its top inbound source markets, it’s a losing battle,” he added.

Chatchai Pongprapat, assistant vice president, revenue management  at Dusit International appreciates the issue, “There is crossover between all of the different players on various channels and that makes it very hard to maintain rate integrity,” he said. The company’s solution has been to partner with Fornova, which polices the rates and helps Pongprapat to maintain rate integrity and partner behaviour.

More effective monitoring and activity on metasearch sites can have a very real effect on the bottom line: “We felt we weren’t featured very visibly as their models evolved and so we hired a third party that could constantly monitor our meta campaigns and make them effective programs,” said Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Global Vice President, Revenue Optimization, Rhett Hirko. Meta-driven bookings jumped 30% after Preferred began working with a third-party partner to manage meta campaigns. They determine the best ROI from each individual meta site based on the budget Preferred dedicates to the channel, as well as meta sites’ performance for Preferred based on click-through volumes. Hirko noted that in terms of how cost effective the move was, “it took a while to tweak the program, but we’re definitely getting good returns for our investment.”

For more on how metasearch is shaping the digital accommodation market, download the free white paper now.

This white paper, made in conjunction with Fornova, gives real-world data on hotel, wholesaler and OTA bidding strategies, alongside consumer behaviours, and meta success metrics. Use these to understand the channel, the competitive landscape and build a winning strategy!

Learn the following from this white paper:
  • The state of the metasearch market.
  • Market penetration rates among consumers and hotels.
  • Consumer behaviours on metasearch.
  • OTA bidding strategies.
  • Techniques to succeed on metasearch.
  • The outlook for meta.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Why every company should put extra effort into customer analytics

The opportunities for business to extract customer data are expanding. Therefore, today’s business imperative is to enhance customer analytics. This is a guest post from Datumize.



The opportunities for business to extract customer data are expanding. Therefore, today’s business imperative is to enhance customer analytics. This is a guest post from Datumize.
Now, companies can gather data from numerous interactions and devices. ​From cell phones to tablets, computers to cashregisters, customers are continuously generating data.​ Furthermore, data is produced in both structured and unstructured forms. For example, traditional data sources like conversion records are now complemented by unstructured data generated by social media interactions. The sources are so numerous that some businesses can find processing the volume of data a challenge. Therefore, developing an integrated overview that reveals connections between these sources is crucial to enhance insights.

Deploy customer analytics to gain the advantage
According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review,​ ​this intelligence is key to a competitive edge in today’s market.​ Harvard Business Review’s report shows how data is creating added value for both businesses and consumers. By interviewing a cross-section of academics, data scientists and executives, Harvard they found that:
Companies with comprehensive customer analytics across all sources were generating ​up to 8.5 times more shareholder value.
Whilst many companies use data to optimize operations or sales, ​meaningful differentiation comes from customer service​. Through these insights, businesses can better understand their customers’ needs and orient business operations around those needs.
60% of executives reported that siloed data was the greatest barrier to detailed customer analytics​. To overcome these obstacles, businesses are creating agile teams that develop solutions with customer experience at their core. Data is valuable, but it is of little use if businesses cannot analyze the information effectively.
Therefore, companies need to ensure they have the right toolsto visualize and interpret data. ​These tools are increasingly accessible, making it possible for less data-literate operations to leverage insights independently from data scientists, in spite of their continuing importance.

Meet customer expectations through data
Previously, many companies have adopted a product-centric attitude to data. Essentially, this approach generates value for the business as opposed to the customer. For instance, ​airlineswere trailblazers in dynamic pricing models​ that adjusted ticket prices according to demand. However, the new business imperative is customer centricity. This is because ​an increasingly competitive market means that service is now the primary product differentiator. ​Today, consumers expect every interaction to be instantaneous and seamless. Meeting these new expectations requires robust analytic capabilities that enhance customer experience. In contrast to many airlines, hoteliers are using data to strive towards meeting customer expectations. For instance,​ ​Ritz-Carlton Hotels aredeploying data to generate added value for their customers.​ Their ​data tools track customer requests, so they could predict future requirements.​ So, to illustrate, if a customer requests a hypoallergenic pillow, Ritz can ensure they have one available for every stay in the future.

Reap the benefits of advanced analytics
To ​profit from customer analytics​, ​C-levels need to implement technology and business cultures that make interfacing with data seamless.​ For example, marketing managers need to ensure data about customer interactions with marketing content is readily available. From here, they can use data to personalize campaigns and offers. Furthermore, sales departments need intuitive tools that make actioning insights more straightforward.​ Once these capabilities are in place, business can begin reaping the benefits identified by the Harvard Business Review.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Wholesalers are the biggest issue in hotel distribution

Hotels and OTAs are being undercut on the overwhelming majority of OTA searches by non-authorised players looking to capitalise on price competitiveness finds a new white paper. 



Fornova and EyeforTravel’s new white paper has uncovered that the greatest factor impacting rate integrity is contracted wholesalers, which are selling inventory to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) that do not have direct agreements with hotels. This is resulting in lost market share and revenues for both hotels and partner OTAs. The depth of this is revealed by Fornova monitoring of nearly 10 million shops made through metasearch engines in 2018.

Contracted OTAs on average undercut hotels in 14% of the shops with leads times less than 14 days and in 26% of shops with leads times above 14 days. However, when it comes to non-contracted sellers, the share of shops that were undercut doubled or trebled, depending on the time frame. 39% of hotels’ direct rates advertised on meta were undercut by these actors for stays less than 14 days rising to 74% for those with lead times above 14 days

Furthermore, non-contracted OTAs are undercutting more aggressively than contracted counterparts. On average, OTAs working under agreements with the hotel posted rates that were 5% to 6% lower than the direct rate. This jumps up to 10% for non-contracted sellers advertising for lead times under 14 days and 11% for lead times above 14 days

The majority of this is coming from wholesalers moving on inventory, which is then posted by other sellers. Fornova CEO Dori Stein estimates that 40% to 50% of hotel inventory contracted to wholesalers is leaked online, despite the fact that they negotiate for static rates, based on the fact that those rates will be opaque to consumers who are purchasing the room as part of a package with other services included.

The growth of APIs has allowed more players to access and market inventory to more partners but this is not necessarily in the hotel’s best interest. Hotels need to have a view on who is selling their inventory and at what price to protect their brand’s integrity and also to prevent their prices being consistently undercut by wholesalers who should not be placing inventory in this manner. Failing to do so means hotels cannot understand the true effectiveness or cost of their marketing and sales efforts and for consumers to shift away from seeing value in making a direct booking.

The issue is ongoing for Thailand-based Dusit International, which operates primarily in Southeast Asia and which maintains static contracts with a multitude of traditional wholesalers. “There is crossover between all of the different players on various channels and that makes it very hard to maintain rate integrity,” said Chatchai Pongprapat, assistant vice president, revenue management. The company’s solution has been to partner with Fornova, which polices the rates and in turn, Dusit tackles rate disparities one-by-one as they arise, while also reconsidering the terms and conditions of individual static contracts in order to keep the hotels from being undercut.

However, resolving each rate discrepancy doesn’t necessarily remedy the issue in the long-term. The third-party vendor will rectify the issue at the time it occurs says Stein, but without contractual obligations, the partner isn’t necessarily obligated to maintain parity in the long-term. Plus, they will often change the rate in the local market where the hotel’s revenue or distribution team is located, while leaving incongruent rates in international markets as it’s more difficult for the hotel to verify that the changes have been made. According to Fornova CEO Dori Stein, “when hotels have a bad parity situation and they’re on meta, they’re effectively paying to tell the world that their brand.com rates aren’t the cheapest.”

For more on how metasearch is shaping the digital accommodation market, download the free white paper now.

This white paper, made in conjunction with Fornova, gives real-world data on hotel, wholesaler and OTA bidding strategies, alongside consumer behaviours, and meta success metrics. Use these to understand the channel, the competitive landscape and build a winning strategy!

Learn the following from this white paper:
  • The state of the metasearch market.
  • Market penetration rates among consumers and hotels.
  • Consumer behaviours on metasearch.
  • OTA bidding strategies.
  • Techniques to succeed on metasearch.
  • The outlook for meta.