Rather than a frustrating maze of “contact us” pages and automated phone systems, Urry and Hurren want something more user-friendly. Because when they travel, they want a simple booking experience and fast, amiable customer service.
“There are a lot of players in the travel industry who would rather keep all the interactions online,” Hurren says. “We have our own call centers available to our customers 24/7. We’ve developed technology that links our marketing efforts with our phone efforts, attributing our sales back to the channel that drove customers. We can leverage what we know about our customers and use that in the sales process to make booking as easy and seamless as possible.”
It’s an old-fashioned bedrock of an anachronistic industry that seems to reinvent itself every year. Gone are the days of smiling travel agents waiting for your visit in a nearby office; today, sites compare prices and seek out a user’s criteria in the wink of an eye.
“We’re a very data-driven company, and we have access to tons of data on what users prefer on our website, those who come through our search campaigns and those who prefer to use our best-in-class call center,” explains Hurren. “We know what speaks to them at scale because of data, and then we try to use that as much as possible to improve the customer experience through agent training and scripting in our call centers. Also, it’s in the way we tailor our websites to help travelers find what they're looking for as quickly and easily as possible.”
Mixing the old-fashioned virtues of a travel agency with the new-fashioned benefits of our connected world, however, isn’t without its obstacles.
“It's a challenge,” Urry says of such efforts. “It's challenging to carry all that information from that search experience to the web experience and to the call center.”
Hurren adds, “But those are the challenges we like.”
Bing’s valuable audience
Cameron Urry, vice president of product, TravelPass Group.
Analyzing data across the various networks in the TravelPass Group portfolio, certain truths about marketing have emerged. Bing Ads is a vital component of our company’s marketing strategy.
“Bing has been a great partner for us,” Hurren explains. “Bing Ads provides us with some unique features that we really appreciate and like. We've ramped up our spend with Bing and it’s on an equal footing with Google for us. With any new campaign or new product we're launching, we're just as likely to launch first on Bing as Google.”
According to Urry, the demographics of the Bing audience are a perfect fit for its travel sites, which largely targets consumers with disposable income. “The user base is similar to ours, with Reservation Counter specifically,” he explains. “That site tends to index a little bit higher in the age groups, and right now it’s one of our largest sites. It has always meshed very well with Bing.”