Published on Monday, September 17, 2012

Heard of the t word?

Kieron Branagan, CEO OpenJaw Technologies, explains how t-Retailing can boost your online sales.

"You might have read over the past couple of months that travel technology company OpenJaw has developed a concept called t-Retailing. What is t-Retailing? t-Retailing is a blueprint for increasing online sales of travel products and encompasses four main principles that enable travel companies to excel at retailing travel products online.

You might be surprised how much of t-Retailing is founded in traditional retailing techniques that you use every day - in fact, t-Retailing takes many of these successful techniques and applies them in the online space. Even though our customers are airlines, hotel groups, loyalty programmes and large online travel agents, t-Retailing can be applied to any travel company with, or thinking about, an online presence. Here goes:

The best retail travel agents have been successful by inspiring their customers with ideas of where, when and how to travel. t-Retailing supports inspiration by advocating the use of:

* a rich mix of appealing imagery, photos, videos - whatever gives customers a deeper sense of their travel experience.
* compelling promotions featuring accurate and available offers that reflect customer search criteria.
* useful ways to view information and encourage people to shop. For example, displays that allow people to shop by date and price (i.e. duration and budget-led shopping).
* enabling people to hear and share trustworthy recommendations (eg. own website, review sites or social networks).

Deep customer insight has been the cornerstone of traditional retail agent success. Now it is possible for online travel companies to get personal with their customers.

Travel companies are sitting on mountains of valuable customer data (such as saved preferences, past purchase history and Loyalty Program membership) that can be used to deliver improved personalised services. With appropriate analytical tools, this information can provide powerful insights to help predict current and future buyer behaviour.

Using technology to make context-aware product offerings to an individual based upon their current online behaviour will increase conversion rates.

With competitors jostling for your share of the marketplace, being able to set your business apart from the competition is vital. It is important that travel companies understand their unique selling points (USPs), ie. how they can uniquely provide what their customers are willing to buy.

t-Retailing advocates that travel companies consider:

* exclusively contracting hotel properties
* offering a unique combination of supply from a collection of different suppliers
* rapidly responding to market threats using real-time control of price, promotions and margins

It is important to make the most of intelligent retailing strategies in order to increase booking volumes as well as the value of each booking across all customer contact points. Proven strategies include:

* in path cross-sell of flight and ancillaries
* dynamic packaging and the very powerful "combine and save" technique
* using the Contact Centre as an opportunity to up-sell

To be a successful travel retailer, it is crucial to own the customer across their entire travel journey and maintain control of the booking path. White-label solutions lead to loss of the valuable customer data which provides the insights necessary to maximise the commercial benefits from selling travel products online.

t-Retailing provides a blueprint for thinking like a retailer and puts you on the road to fully meeting your customer needs, leading to travel retailing success."


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