What makes travelers book? In the face of cascading technology, that question remains the central one. As a result, e-commerce solutions continue to emerge that aim to answer it as well as is non-humanly possible. As examples of these tools, consider two companies: one that uses language to persuade travelers; and another that sees peer group encouragement as the key to generating bookings.
A company called Persado (derived from the Welsh word for persuade) has taken what it says is a scientific approach to language as used in marketing messages. Example: subject lines that suggest “urgency” are more effective than ones signifying “gratification.” According to the company, when it comes to using a one-time action to engage a consumer, travel suppliers are more likely to persuade with subject lines such as “Book flights for $59 – 24 hours ONLY” showing urgency rather than “Enjoy great savings with this one-time deal, conveying gratification.”
Assaf Baciu, co-founder and SVP of Persado, with travel clients like Norwegian Cruise Line and Expedia, says, “We want to make content more impactful and make audiences act. We spent five years accumulating and scoring language, organizing it in a way that can be used by computers. When you think about the number of offers across channels now available to marketers, it’s overwhelming. You need technology to help retain customers and acquire new ones.”
Of course, that language needs to constantly be changed. “We generate the best message for a given point in time,” says Baciu; “you might even need specific language for Valentine’s Day. A change of two words in a subject line could dramatically change the response. It is not the discount that drives bookings; it’s excitement or whatever emotion you are stimulating. We will run multiple messages in a market to determine which part of the message is resonating emotionally.”
Meanwhile, a company called Make It Social sees tremendous opportunity in groups being able to plan and book a trip together – if it’s done correctly. The company said its research found that 25% of social group bookings are abandoned sometime during the planning process due to hassles that includes wrangling group members’ preferences and payments. Make It Social recently relaunched its platform and, says Eddie Robb, founder and CEO, “We’re determined to take the burden off so-called group leaders and make the planning process less anxiety provoking and more accessible, social and secure.”
Make it Social’s “Invite Friends” button triggers a group creation pop-up, allowing users to easily invite friends via email or SMS. If invitees decide to join the group, each is walked through booking and payment, with optional add-ons (e.g., spa access, breakfast, venue concessions), leading to increased revenue for the client and a streamlined experience for the user. Checkout amount is based on the total price split, with minimum and maximum occupancy taken into account.
Each group member pays her or his share only, and money is not collected until the group leader finalizes the reservation. Make it Social provides real-time updates allowing all participants to see when invitees have viewed, joined or left the group; purchased add-ons or made payments. The platform is highly transparent and individualized (i.e., each group member sees personalized ticketing, payment and contact info); and can offer incentives including group discounts.
There’s nothing new to the fact that persuasion is the goal of sales and marketing initiatives. Nor is there anything new to customers responding to specific language – or to encouragement from friends and family. Now it’s up to all the emerging companies offering tools of persuasion to persuade marketers to spend their dollars with them – and not with their competition.