Published on 02-Feb-2012
Blue Chip Vacations
Professional Services, Travel & Transportation
EMM - Digital Marketing Optimization, Smarter Commerce, Smarter Marketing, Smarter Planet
In just 10 short years, Blue Chip Holidays has grown to become one of the UK’s leading holiday home specialists. Promoting a portfolio of 900 luxury holiday properties that includes coastal apartments, cottages and lodges across the southwest, Wales and the Isle of Wight, the company last year achieved an impressive 40% year-on-year growth.
Blue Chip Holidays needed a robust analytics platform that could give them actionable insights into how customers were using their website. This would help them capitalize on the website’s potential.
The company began using an IBM Cloud web analytics solution to track visitor behavior online, see responses to individual web pages and identify which marketing investments were paying off.
The solution provided BCH with meaningful data on website usage trends, making it easier for them to identify the exact changes that needed to be made to optimize the online customer experience.
Blue Chip Holidays
Blue Chip Holidays Uses IBM solutions to Optimize Online Marketing and Drive Bookings
In just 10 short years Blue Chip Holidays has grown to become one of the UK’s leading holiday home specialists. Promoting a portfolio of 900 luxury holiday properties that includes coastal apartments, cottages and lodges across the south west, Wales and the Isle of Wight, the company last year achieved an impressive 40% year-on-year growth.
With a proud history of providing excellent customer service to the property owners it represents and the people who book their stays through the company, Blue Chip Holidays was determined to maximize the value and performance of its online bookings operation. By better understanding how visitors interact with its website, Blue Chip Holidays would be well positioned to optimize online content and refine its future marketing strategies.
Generating around 60% of all bookings, the Blue Chip Holidays website is a key element of the company’s multi-channel retailing strategy. Show casing all the properties it represents, site visitors can search and select on a variety of criteria, check availability, and view special offers and promotions.
To identify new and better ways to promote the brand, maximize property view-to-book rates, and generate quality feedback that would help owners boost their booking ratios via the service, Blue Chip Holidays needed detailed insights into how visitors interact with its website - what worked well, what could work better, and why.
Blue Chip Holidays needed to take the guess work out of fine-tuning and optimizing its website, but the free analytics tool it was currently using was simply not robust enough to deliver the granularity and sophisticated data point tagging the company needed In order to take its online business to the next level Blue Chip Holiday was looking to:
· Track and analyze visitor behavior on the site to identify which features on a page cause interest to drop or purchases to remain uncompleted
· Gain thorough insight into the return on its marketing investments, based on visitor behavior on its site
· Optimize the site to maximize conversion from mobile device users
· Identify opportunities and trends in real-time to be able to meet customer demand exactly
Blue Chip Holidays took the decision to use IBM® Digital Analytics™ combined with IBM Digital Analytics Explore™ to examine visitor behaviors on its site, understand visitor responses to individual pages, and identify which of its marketing investments pay off best when it comes to generating site traffic and bookings.
It also engaged IBM Strategic Consulting Services to review its business analysis objectives and provide best practice guidance on using it to address business questions. Following a five-day Coremetrics Explore Workshop – during which the in-house analysis team discovered which key data points they needed to track, explored critical tagging recommendations and defined their reporting requirements, Blue Chip Holidays was all set for a new era of digital marketing.
A first priority for the company was gaining the all-important ability to provide ‘value add’ feedback and guidance to the owners it represents.
“Using IBM we’re able to tag individual pages, identify a property’s position in the search results and track at what point buyer interest drops away,” says James Hardy, online manager. “Previously, all we could tell an owner about the performance of their property on our site was its number of bookings. Now we’re able to tell them what position it appears on our search results, click-through rates through to the page and how many individual visits the page has had – and we can infer reasons from these results. This means we can give pointers to owners on whether it is lack of parking, price, or some other feature that’s causing online visitors to ‘move on,’ and offer recommendations on how to boost their future conversion rates.”
And it was thanks to its new-found ability to gain real-time insights into customer demand that Blue Chip Holidays is now able to quickly capitalize on identified trends. For example, data analysis of an unexpected upturn in inquiries for shorter duration breaks and long weekends led the company to buck the market norm and launch a series of special short break offers in high season periods that directly tap into identified buyer requirements.
“We can undertake a detailed analysis of visitor date search requests and dynamically respond with offers and packages that exactly match consumer wants and needs,” continues Hardy.
Any redesign of its website represents a significant investment – and getting it wrong can have an impact on brand reputation, the visitor experience, and click-to-book conversion rates. So when Blue Chip Holidays identified a higher than expected basket abandonment rate, it was set to embark on a major rework project until analysis of page functionality using IBM Digital Analytics revealed some unexpected findings.
“We found an increasing number of visitors were using mobile devices and tablets to browse the site, and that the lower screen size and resolutions of these devices made it difficult for site visitors to view the ‘click to continue’ button on the basket page,” explains Hardy. “We’ve since optimized the site for a much broader selection of browsers and screen resolutions – and abandonment rates have fallen away.”
Similarly, uncovering the real facts revealed that page layout and design was not a cause for underperformance in the Last Minute deals section of the website.
“Pathing analysis revealed the Last Minute deals page was actually highly valued by users and generated high visitor volumes, so we refocused our discovery effort and pinpointed that the real issue lay with the bookings business process itself,” continues Hardy. “We avoided an unnecessary redesign effort and are able to redirect our resources to identify the true root cause of the underperformance issue.”
Implementing IBM has enabled Blue Chip Holidays to enhance the performance of its website and gain valuable intelligence that is helping drive new and improved ways of working across the business. The newly found ability to identify opportunities and trends in real-time means the company is better positioned to take advantage of fast moving market conditions, and a variety of teams – including the website development team, the PR team, the marketing team and the property team– are all benefiting from the increased intelligence generated by the IBM Coremetrics suite.
Currently Blue Chip Holidays is employing IBM to better understand how the placement of discount information on the site affects bookings. The ability to identify the best location to place discount information, and track volumes is enabling Blue Chip Holidays to better refine the tactical marketing strategies the business employs.
“The IBM solution gives us meaningful data on abandonment rates and enables us to track user behaviors on their journey through the site, from the number of visits they make before booking to what triggers their decision to book. As a result, we’ve been able to take the guess work out of what to change and why, and gained greater insights into the holistic operation of our entire site. In addition to enhancing usability for visitors, we’re now able to provide detailed feedback to the owners we represent, and business groups outside of the website design team are benefiting from the intelligence we now have at our fingertips.”
James Hardy, online manager, Blue Chip Holidays
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Coremetrics Explore, IBM Digital Analytics
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