Goibibo is the largest online hotels booking engine in India and also one of the leading air aggregator. Goibibo is also the number one ranked mobile app under the travel category. Goibibo has grown its hotels booking volumes by 5x in 2015 over the previous year. 70% of hotel bookings take place on Goibibo’s mobile app. It is part of the ibibo Group that also owns India’s No. 1 online Bus ticketing platform, redBus.in and recently launched car pooling app, “ibibo Ryde”.
A large number of users on OTAs just search on site and abandon without booking or even clicking on any of the search results. Such set of users have shown interest in buying but haven’t yet transacted.
The Marketing Team at Goibibo wanted to engage these ‘search abandoners’ with hyper-personalized communication aimed at retaining them.
Here, the underlying idea was to retain the set of users who have shown the purchase intent. And to use user behavior data to make the communication one to one.
Search abandonment is a term usually used in the context of search engines (a.k.a. web search abandonment or SERP abandonment).
However, search abandonment or booking abandonment in the context of OTA’s is a user performing search and not transacting within the next specified time window.
A study conducted by Google states that – 69% of leisure travelers worry that they’re not finding the best price or making the best decision.
Users are in a dilemma induced by the infinite choices and the inherently undifferentiated offerings in travel industry. Generally, users on OTA’s abandon search for a combination of the following reasons:
- Dissatisfied with the search results
- Looking for lower prices
- Doing research
- Complicated checkout process
- Technical issue
- Casually keeping a tab on prices to book later
- No flights on Preferred time of travel
- No flights by preferred airline
In an industry that majorly has undifferentiated offerings, too many service providers, brand agnostic and price-sensitive buyers delivering customer delight becomes a priority.
Online travel agencies have offerings in high involvement categories (e.g. honeymoon package, family vacations) and low involvement categories (e.g. flight ticket, weekend getaway trip). Categories with low involvement contribute greatly to total transactions but are not as profitable as high involvement ones.
The engagement strategy for both the categories is different. For instance, for high involvement offerings the engagement happens over long periods which is also a function of seasonal buying behavior.
For low involvement category, that includes flight tickets, the engagement happens over short period. And, hence communication requires high responsiveness to user behavior.
As a retention marketer for OTA, the biggest challenge we face is reaching the user at the right time over the channel of their preference. – Soyinka, Retention Marketer @ Goibibo
Customers are at the front, right and center of marketing and they expect brands to personalize communication.
Personalization is about using existing knowledge of users to stay relevant to them. However, email personalization has different levels to it. Using username in subject line or body copy is the most basic email personalization.
Hyper-personalized emails take a basic email to the next level. It uses user behavior data and user profile data to dynamically change email content for each user. However, courtesy the personalization engine introduced by us, personalizing at scale became a piece of cake for Ibibo.
Delivering Personalization at Scale with Journey Designer
Goibibo’s Use-Case to Retain Booking Abandoners
In travel industry, email as a channel influences customers as the last interaction before purchase. Likewise, Goibibo intended to increase the effectiveness of emails by using personalization.
WebEngage’s Workflow to Implement the Use-Case
Journey Designer is a drag-and-drop tool that lets you set the workflow using Triggers, Actions, Conditions and Flow Controls. [click image to enlarge]
Hyper-Personalized Triggered Email for End User
Snippet of Outcomes for Goibibo
Stats at each stage of user journey were incredibly insightful.
About 55K users booked within the first 30 minutes after searching for flights.
On top of this, 6K booking abandoners converted after receiving booking (/search) abandonment email sent via WebEngage’s Journey Designer. That is a straightforward ~11% additional conversions directly attributable to hyper-personalized, fully individualized, triggered in real-time booking recovery emails.
The sheer volume of transactions directly translated into a few millions of additional revenue for Goibibo.