TravelCarma to showcase its Innovation at PhoCusWright’s “The Travel Innovation Summit”

Travel Technology provider TravelCarma has been selected to showcase its Innovation at PhoCusWright’s “The Travel Innovation Summit” on 15 Nov 2011, US. TravelCarma, the sole entry from India, is proud to share space amongst world’s leading 30 innovators who will demonstrate their applications, technologies and solutions which they expect will forever change the face of travel planning, purchasing and memorializing.

In the ever-growing online travel space, travel companies without significant online presence are losing customers, market-share and revenue against their online competitors. TravelCarma empowers these companies by providing them e-commerce enabled complete online travel portals with their own branding and content, mobile and social media booking portals and access to global travel inventory. The pay-as-you-go SaaS model makes the technology available with no upfront investments.

From the technology standpoint, TravelCarma’s innovation – “A Cloud-based Applications Delivery Platform integrated with an Open-Distribution based TravelXchange” provides travel companies with multi-platform POS and distribution of travel content across multiple channels.

After being awarded twice for Innovation (Top 100 Innovators in 2007 & Top SaaS-AppS in 2011), we continued our efforts towards developing innovative products for travel industry. While industry has just started talking about importance of Cloud Computing and SaaS in Travel industry, we have already launched our product on Travel Cloud.


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Conversion Management ~ Converting Website Visitors into Buyers

Currently, marketers are desperate about increasing their website traffic as much as possible through different means. They are crazy about SEO, SEM, keywords, rankings, etc. and are investing huge in “optimizing” their website for Search Engines like Google, yahoo, etc. for getting top ranking. Increased website traffic seems to be the only objective.

But, is the traffic acquisition enough?
SEO and SEM are still important, but is this enough for successful ecommerce?
What about converting visitors into buyers or the “look-to-book”?

Today more and more of big players are starting to make “conversion optimization” a priority. And from there, are starting to get really smart, targeted and personal with their websites. This method is helping to not only acquire consumers, but to keep them coming back for more. These solutions aren’t making SEO/SEM experts and web analytics gurus obsolete, they are simply the missing piece of the customer experience puzzle, and giving all marketers the greatest bang for their buck.

While conversion management is ramping up to be the next must-have technology (just like SEO/SEM), many brands have yet to shift their time, budget and plans to a conversion management program. It’s not always easy to convince decision makers about the benefits of new technologies, but here are three basic reasons why this can immediately impact your business:

1. Technology is Smarter than You

Let’s face it, you know your website better than anyone. You may think it’s ugly and desperately in need of a revamp. Or maybe, your think your website is a rock star— it has after all received multiple “Best Design” accolades and awards. Either way, subjective opinions have no place in your website strategy—if it hasn’t been tested, there is always room to improve.

Remember a little thing called focus groups? Back in the Mad Men era, these were heavily relied on by consumer brands to understand how their customer thinks, what they react to, what they like, what they don’t like, etc. Today, we still need to understand these consumer insights, but focus groups just aren’t scalable, (or smart), when your traffic efforts are driving thousands, if not millions, of unique visitors per month. Are you going to sit them all down in a room and survey them? No. But your website is the perfect place to discover what people like and don’t like—from buttons, to products, to tone and copy—through A/B and multivariate testing. How your customer proceeds through a search or check-out phase on your site is just as important and the product merchandising plan or their brand perceptions.

The best way to gather insights and start making site improvements with testing is the iterative approach: laying out a plan of what you want to test, why and when; discovering the results and implement the changes over time. Changes as simple as button copy and color in the shopping cart raise purchases by 3-5% in a month’s time. Every site is different, but every site has opportunity.

2. Search Marketing and Web Analytics Need You

Going forward, there is no point in purchasing keywords to drive traffic to an inefficient landing page or website. If it doesn’t convert, it’s not justifying budget spend. Driving traffic to your website isn’t the end goal anymore – Increasing revenue on your website is. And in today’s noisy, competitive market, it’s becoming a more precarious process driving a visitor to your site, capture their attention and convert them into customers. The great news is, all the hard work that your search optimization teams have done over the past few years will provide insights that will help drive and improve your conversion strategies. They have targeted certain types of visitors and customers, products, campaigns, keywords. They have data on what is working and what hasn’t. So it’s time to team up to make everyone’s marketing efforts a successful return on investment.

Testing and targeting once the visitor is at your site is a win-win-win for search, analytics and revenue. When a website is optimized for the customer, most effective content and design elements are used throughout the site, the cost of acquisition through search marketing is driven down, and it becomes easier to convert website visitors into customers. With the excess funds from search marketing budgets available, marketers have the ability to pay for additional keywords and drive more traffic to the site.

3. You Need Recurring Revenues

Testing and optimizing your site is going to provide a better site experience for the majority of your visitors. But after that, it’s time to get really slick by enhancing each individual’s experience with personalized, relevant content. Every individual that your visits the site has a different profile— and every time they visit, you learn more and more about them—what page layouts, tone/copy, buttons, etc. they covert best with, what products they search, what they have purchased, what traffic sources they come from, the list goes on.

With personalization, you’ll be able to not only serve them tailored content in real-time, but predict what they will want next and serve them up offers that they are likely to buy. Not only do these solutions allow you to collect and analyze more in-depth visitor data, but it will help turn them into loyal, recurring customers if the content, offers and experience fit the individual’s needs and wants.


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Travel & Hospitality websites must focus on usability

Travel companies with accessible websites are far more likely to reach a larger number of customers than their inaccessible competitors. A new research has found that the top 10 travel companies in the UK are not maximising their revenue opportunities when it comes to their websites.

The report says: considering how people consume online information is an important step. People use different devices, may use access technologies, and will have different requirements for the way information is delivered.

Providing information in text (as well as graphical) format, enabling people to adjust text size for reading comfort, and ensuring that it’s possible to use the website without a mouse, all contribute to a more positive experience.

Finding information is often a goal on many websites, and travel websites are no exception. Treating links like sign posts that guide people around the site, making sure that people understand when they’ve made a mistake in submitting a form, and using clear language, will all make it easier for customers to find the holidays they’re interested in.

However, to realise the full potential of accessibility, it’s necessary to look beyond the purely technical. Accessibility works best when it’s part of the fabric of an organisation. Standards such as BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice in combination with practical goals based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide a powerful framework for achieving accessibility success. With people cutting back on extravagant holidays due to the recession it is essential that travel company websites strive ahead of the competition and include accessibility and usability as a core part of their digital strategy.


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Mobile Web will surpass the traditional web in size by 2013

The mobile channel is the next big wave. It has brought a phenomenal change in the way consumers shop for, purchase and share their travel experiences.

According to a recent report, number of consumers purchasing travel products via their mobile device is projected to double in 2011 and mobile travel bookings are projected to grow 700% in two short years. Industry experts project that the Mobile Web will surpass the traditional web in size by 2013. This means new and richer opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers before, during and after their trips, promote own and partners’ products and above all generate more bookings and ancillary revenues.

It is estimated that nearly 25 million US smartphone users will research travel information on their mobile devices before making a trip this year. Nearly 12 million will use the mobile channel to book their plans. By next year, 34 percent of smartphone users and 31 percent of mobile Internet users in the US will research travel via mobile. At the same time, 18 percent of smartphone users and 16 percent of mobile Internet users will book travel the same way.

As consumers integrate their mobile devices into their travel plans, marketers that want to keep pace must develop innovative approaches that fit with their audience’s habits and preferences. For travel companies it is very important to select the right mobility technology partner, who fully understands this space & travellers’ buying behavior.


More airlines into ‘direct selling’

More airlines are going into the business of “direct selling” their services to business travellers.

Industry players say this is because the airlines are looking to promote their ancillary services directly to such travellers in order to generate more income. At the same time, they can bypass the traditional Global Distribution System (GDS), which travel management companies use to distribute airline data and to book flights for business travellers.

An extra 12.7 centimetres of legroom and earlier boarding time, are examples of ancillary services that helped US airlines make about US$13 billion (S$16.5 billion) in revenue last year. Experts say Asian airlines on the other hand managed to rake in only US$3 billion to US$5 billion from such services. Other than that untapped source of revenue, airlines hope to save cost by cutting out travel managers which make use of the costly GDS. Observers say major airlines have already introduced such direct selling or Direct Connect, while more and more companies are looking into it.

As quoted by some industry leaders, “The reason airlines are going in this direction is to save cost”.


Travel set to ramp up IT investment 2011

Travel industry expenditure on IT is set to outstrip the average for all UK businesses in 2011 for the first time since 2008, according to the results of research for the first Travolution Innovation Report.

Official government data analysed by KEW Associates has forecast a significant bounce back following two years of little or negative growth during the recent period of economic recession.

But as the recession’s impact recedes, travel will reinvest in its IT with a projected 6.7% growth in expenditure this year compared to 6.4% for all UK enterprises. This takes travel IT spend growth back to a level last seen in 2008 (6%) when UK expenditure growth was just 2%.

Travel industry IT expenditure this year will represent 1.2% (£1.30 billion) of total expenditure on IT by all UK enterprises (£104.36 billion). In 2009, travel industry turnover stood at £59 billion or 1.4% of the total for all UK enterprises, the number of enterprises in travel was 0.9% of the total and the number of employees 1.8%.

What is clear from the figures is that travel IT spend typically lags UK GDP growth by around a year, compared to the IT spend by all UK business sectors, which lags by just two quarters.

This has seen travel tracking behind the UK IT spend trend throughout the period of our research, starting in 2007 when travel cut back by 2%, while all UK enterprises grew 6%. It should be noted that 2007 was characterised by major consolidation, particularly in the tour operator sector, with the mergers of the big four into the big two.

Although the major vertically integrated operators saw consolidation as an opportunity to drive synergies, not least through IT integration, the figures suggest operators will lead the bounce back.

A projected 26% rise in IT spend this year follows a 14% rise in 2010, ending a period of three successive years of decline. The ONS data suggests this pick up reflects a predicted surge in staff numbers, although the numbers will not exceed the level recorded in 2006 and 2007.

Less marked upturns are predicted in all other travel sectors except Passenger Air Transport, which has probably been hit more than most by the downturn as well as rising fuel prices.


56% of Business Customers Use Mobile Technology to Search/Book Hotels

As per a recent research, more than half of business customers now use mobile technology when it comes to searching and booking hotels, indicating a rapid increase in the use of mobile technology in the business travel sector.

The survey, which polled over 600 corporate travel buyers, agents, hospitality and travel professionals globally, explored hotel experiences and expectations of the modern business traveller. Notable response findings from the 150 respondents were:

• 80% would like to see mobile applications offering suggested restaurants and bars around the hotel location.

• 67% would like similar apps offering suggestions for recreational activities.

• 71% rank Wi-Fi as one of the most important technology solutions that should be included as standard in hotel rooms – 82% of travellers expecting this service to be in all rooms within five years.

• 54% wanted more transparency and choice when it comes to charges for optional extras.

• Many in the poll commented that they should only have to pay for the services they really want or use when travelling for business.

• There was limited appeal for mobile apps which could record TV channels remotely or convenience solutions like the ability to adjust the temperature of the room when away.