Make bookings inclusive — As I mentioned earlier, most travellers are booking trips for more than one person, so it makes sense for travel websites to allow friends and family to plan and book their holidays together. As we frequently say at Joyned, travel is social, so why isn’t the group booking experience?
Aspart of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Doron Luder.
Doron Luder is the Vice President of Sales at Joyned — a SaaS solution for travel websites that enables users to book together, taking the group booking experience to the next level through collaboration. Specialising in developing a data-centred approach to sales in technology companies, Doron has worked in both enterprise-class organisations and start-ups; he has more than 15 years of experience in disruptive technologies as diverse as cyber security, cloud computing, and robotic process automation; to learn more about what Joyned offers travel sites, visit https://www.joyned.co/.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always had a passion for sales and started my career as a Sales Executive back in 2007. From then, I rose through the ranks undertaking various roles and responsibilities including Country Sales Manager, Director of Channel Sales, Sales Director and now VP of Sales.
I met Jonathan Abraham, the CEO of Joyned, about a year ago. We started talking about the challenges that online travel users experience. We spoke a lot about how travel websites are missing out on big revenue opportunities to bring in the friends and family of their users. We saw eye to eye on the potential to revolutionise the group booking experience and I was keen to get involved. I initially started consulting for the company and this naturally evolved into my current role as VP Sales.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
The key is that when a user comes onto a travel website, 8 times out of 10 they represent a group of people, whether that’s family, friends or colleagues. Most travel sites are only set up to cater for a solo traveller meaning that all conversations relating to the group booking have to take place away from the site, such as in a WhatsApp group.
Imagine if these travel sites could capture the interactions and sentiment of the group, and direct their conversations, so that all the options they are looking at are on the travel site exclusively? That is a very powerful proposition, and it is one which we believe is going to change travel forever.
At Joyned, our co-founders come from science and maths backgrounds, so they are bringing to the industry deep analytical skills, which they then set on problems which have been there since the internet started. They are using innovation, mathematics and AI to find solutions.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
The big pain point is that travel websites have been straightjacketed into the same purchasing funnel used for buying commodities like books or electronics. It’s simply not fit for purpose.
The crucial difference is that they are selling an experience, and the purchase process needs to reflect a much more consultative approach. People don’t book holidays in a vacuum. They have many conversations, do lots of research, and build their preferences accordingly.
Through Joyned Booking, we are creating a place for this magic to happen on the travel website. This allows travel companies to provide customers with a superior user experience when booking group trips. This boosts online sales by keeping F&F travellers on their websites for longer, increasing overall profitability and loyalty.
To date, travel sector sites using Joyned Booking have seen a conversion rate of four times their baseline, with a 25% higher average order value. Joyned Booking also provides a 90% invite-to-website click-through-rate due to its cross-website, live booking experience, which offers a real-time connection for users.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
The travel industry is going through a very large rebound. Travellers are back, revenue is back, everyone is feeling an immense sense of relief. There is a buzz in the air (excuse the pun).
But this will be short lived and soon the industry will normalise, growth will moderate. Then there will be a big difference between expectations and reality. How do you continue to perpetuate growth at the current levels? There is only one way to do it sustainably — through new technology.
The travel industry had a tough time during COVID, and some people are still looking over their shoulder saying ‘good riddance’. I understand this. But the next five years will create a divide between those that embraced new technologies, and those that sat back and just benefited from the natural bounce after COVID.
As Expedia discussed in their travel trends of 2023, travellers want the option to ‘book what they want when they want it’. In fact, reports suggest that there are over 148 million travel bookings made annually, with online travel sales growing at a rate of 15.4%.
However, a recent survey conducted by Arival of over 3,500 businesses, found that more than half of day tour operators do not use an online booking system at all. This puts these businesses at an immediate disadvantage, given that 83% of US adults want to book their trips online and 45% of UK travellers are comfortable researching, planning and booking trips directly from their mobile.
Those who continue to sit back and continue to ignore the growth of online travel will be rapidly disrupted by younger, more agile travel companies, who are actively embracing new tech and are providing a superior, more intuitive and all-encompassing online experience.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Package Holidays — Today’s travellers don’t want to make endless choices, and any choices they do make need to be simple ones. Travel websites that can offer packages which are tailored to the exact needs of their customers will find they keep coming back year on year. Jet2 are the perfect example of a company that has really nailed the package holiday offering. A recent CityAM article revealed that 60% of their booking for the 2023 season are package holiday customers.
- Customer Service — There’s plenty of talk about whether AI and specifically ChatGPT can deliver the same standards of customer service that we expect from humans. Sure, we can automate tasks but we can’t ignore the importance of real human interaction, particularly in the travel sector. It’s essential that despite the race towards digitisation, high standards of customer service remain available to those who need them.
- Promote the dream — Understanding the psychology behind travel is essential to creating an experience that keeps customers coming back. Users love browsing exotic destinations, in fact a recent poll of UK holidaymakers ranked a safari in Africa, driving Route 66 in the USA, and walking along the Great Wall of China in the top 10 wishlist destinations for 2023. So, alongside your tried and tested holidays, make sure you include more lavish and luxury options too. Even if they don’t book, let them live out their dream through your website!
- Focus on the experience — The reasons why people travel vary, but they are almost always rooted in the experience itself. A survey by Lonely Planet revealed that 95% see travel as an ‘opportunity for positive change’ in their life and also for the places and communities they visit. Whether that’s exploring new territories, tasting exotic cuisines, experiencing new cultures or spending time with distant relatives; there is always an emotional force driving the decision to book a trip. The most successful travel websites really focus on the experience itself, not just the logistics of the journey
- Make bookings inclusive — As I mentioned earlier, most travellers are booking trips for more than one person, so it makes sense for travel websites to allow friends and family to plan and book their holidays together. As we frequently say at Joyned, travel is social, so why isn’t the group booking experience?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!