Since the appearance of the very first automated booking systems, the travel industry has become a technology-intensive sector. The success of any booking depends on the right communication between different services through a complex network whose ultimate goal is to bring the final consumer the proper response to his trip request at the right time and the right price. The beauty of this is that this communication, apart from many other benefits, leaves a trace that can be an excellent raw material to understand our customers better.
On the other hand, the sales KPIs that historically had been tracked by travel companies to understand how their business is performing, are mainly based in a limited data set; usually the actual sales.
The love story between XML integrations and travel companies
An XML integration is a primary technology used in travel companies to connect clients with suppliers, so demand with the offer. To explain it in plain words, the XML integration acts as a bridge and translator at the same time, which means that no matter what language the requests or response is sent in, it can be understood by everyone that’s a part of the integration.
The XML integration technology then allows that one client, a travel agency for example, to request availability over a hotel room via a booking platform. The provider, which can be a hotel, a bedbank or a tour operator, gives a response almost immediately; and even more, the client can be requesting many hotels at the same time and also receive all the responses shortly after.
In summary, XML integrations are a standard in the travel industry. Every company selling travel packages needs an XML integration to be able to offer timely responses to their client requests. The main advantage of XML integrations over other distribution systems, apart from the ability to combine different providers to sell complete packages (flight + hotel + car), is that by using XML we can edit the content and description of the offer and decide the final price of the product. This gives more personalization room to the travel company and also allows them to develop their revenue and pricing strategy.
The XML data
Travel companies are continually generating a massive amount of data in all their interactions with clients. As we saw, many of them are happening through an XML integration. That means that XML integrations are a goldmine of information for sales teams to better understand clients, demand, pricing, offer, performance, funnels, etc. The problem is that XML data is usually unleveraged, and many times it is not even stored. One of the main reasons is because as it’s data in transit, flowing through the network of connections, and traditional technologies are not capable of collecting transit data.
That generates a funny situation. So there’s tons of valuable data generated in every transaction, flowing through systems, but not captured nor stored. Travel companies struggling to understand why are they selling or not through client X, why they are underperforming for a specific destination, what their clients are requesting for or how the booking journey is for their clients.
Building KPIs from your XML data
By collecting, processing, and transforming this XML data in insights, we can easily enjoy new and compelling sales KPIs to measure in real time, daily, weekly or monthly basis and understand our business performance.
L2B ratio: The look-to-book ratio is a figure used in the travel industry that shows the percentage of people who visit a travel website compared to those who make a purchase. This ratio is essential to websites such as Priceline.com, Travelocity.com, and Expedia.com for determining whether the website are securing purchases. What would happen to travel companies that not only have a website but a network of connections and integrations with third-parties (the case of bed banks, tour operators, airlines, etc.)? In that case, if we want to be able to know the L2B ratio we need to be able to track all the requests (availability, search and booking requests) that our system is receiving via the XML integration from these third-party websites, booking platforms, etc. So the only way to monitor our primary conversion metric, the L2B ratio, is by leveraging XML data.
Demand analytics: If a tour operator wants to be able to understand what are the most popular destinations or the most popular hotels are, they cannot only analyze what they’ve sold. It will require collecting and analyzing all the availability, search, and booking requests to understand what are the top requested destinations and hotels. These KPIs will be vital to understand our demand and adapt our offer consequently deeply.
Client performance: As we explained above, the client requesting the tour operator or the bedbank is not the final traveler but a travel agency or even another tour operator. They’re an identified client that we want probably to monitor. That’s why by capturing from our XML integration data, the requests and conversions from each client can help us to determine the revenue attributed to bookings form clients and then identify our top revenue sources. This KPI brings us essential information for negotiating with our clients and doing account management.
Timeouts: And last but not least, we cannot forget the technical KPIs that we can generate by analyzing the XML integration data. As we already pointed out, travel companies are technology-dependent, and that means that any flaw in our technical systems represents a negative impact on our revenue generation. The average of no-response shown by a regular tour operator is almost 40% of responses. That’s why being able to monitor in real time and timely detect timeouts, and other technical issues will help us to reduce our time to resolution and minimize the impact on our sales.
Sales KPIs to continually improve
So, we can generate insights into two main “intelligence areas.” From one side, by boosting the power behind XML integration raw data to aggregate and summarize data sets helps us to generate actionable information about the performance of our clients and our suppliers. And on the other side, these same raw data can help us to understand the experience of our clients when using our products.
In the end, all this information represents a definite competitive advantage as the KPIs we will enjoy can be the lever for strategic decisions to improve our product, our offer, our relationship with clients, etc.
Cartoon source: www.timoelliott.com