Hays Independence Group members are seeing increased profits since the consortium opted to bring its back office technology in-house and provide members with much more detailed data on its clients.
The group’s annual domestic conference in Birmingham will hear on Wednesday how average transaction values are up 8% year on year to February 28 and profits up 17% on the back of just a 1% rise in passenger volumes.
“Overall we’ve got some pretty happy members in the sense that we are not necessarily generating increased passenger numbers but we are generating more revenue and, importantly, profit, which is the key,” said John Hays (pictured), Hays Travel managing director.
New core in-house technology, which has been integrated with third party solutions including Traveltek’s iSell system and specialist technology to manage activity like email campaigns, was brought in for IG members from last year, the Hays group having terminated a relationship with Comtec to use its Travelcat system.
Hays said this has allowed it to offers members access to a wealth of customer insight stored in its data warehouse which they can use to get the most out of their existing customers and those who have inquired but not booked.
“What we decided a few years back was what we had was not fit for purpose in the digital age in terms of customer information. We were forever trying to add granularity on to what was there.
“What we have assembled is selling systems that give us a huge amount of data so that our data warehouse is now a hugely important part of our marketing and engagement with customers. We have now got that and that information is available whether you are a big Independence Group member or a tiny one.”
Hays said Wednesday’s event, which is themed ‘connecting with customers’, would highlight how all consortium members can exploit this technology to help their businesses, and that this is not just something that is the preserve of the big online players.
Speakers including Jet2’s head of marketing Gavin Forth, Danny Waine from Perfect Weddings Abroad and Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel, will highlight the practical steps agents can take to take the fear out of technology’s impact.
The technological theme is a continuation from November’s conference in Tunisia which saw speakers from Google and Travelport offer a much broader perspective on the opportunities and challenges technological advances pose.
“I’m a great believer in multi-channel. I have always said to be successful you need a combination of both good technology and good people. Connecting with customers is about both of those things,” Hays said.
Forth represents a supplier which has “come from nowhere”, said Hays, to be the group’s third biggest supplier, and will offer tips on how agents can turn their customer information into hard cash.
“We are targeting this conference at those people who are still learning about technology, how they can use what we have already got available for them,” Hays said. “What we are trying to get across is all of this customer information is freely available to you in our data warehouse and for very little cost you can turn it into hard cash.”
The IG consortium contains a diverse range of members from niche specialists to mass market online players and although it does market on their behalf it does offer automated services like triggered personalised email campaigns post-booking and both pre and post-trip.
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