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Performance beats personalisation: we speak to Seth Cassel, president of EveryMundo

At the Aviation Festival APAC in February, our CEO Brett met Seth Cassel, president of EveryMundo, which you might say was an airline performance marketing company. But this is only half the story. 

That’s because the platform has some fundamentally different approaches that are seriously bucking the trend in digital advertising. I caught up with him to learn more.

Our platform improves traffic attraction and conversion improvement with an engaging new experience,” Cassel explains to me. His partner Anton, the CEO and originally a one-man show marketing company started in 2006, earned a handful of clients.

“I joined in 2010 and our developers who helped to automate some of our work became the key architects of this software which would later become EveryMundo’s core product. We won a consulting engagement with Etihad in 2011, which led to an introduction to other airlines.”

Anton Diogo, EveryMundo founder

At the time, the two men were based out of a small shop in Miami and operating purely as a third-party SEO/SEM/Google Analytics consultancy, but this was about to change.

The original software was ‘industry-agnostic’, but as the team “gained an appreciation of the idiosyncrasies of the airline market” they became purely an airline product.

airTRFX is born

In 2013, they debuted their direct channel / customer acquisition software.

Called airTRFX, the flagship technology provides a dedicated page for every destination, route, or product such as ‘romantic getaways’ or ‘ski holidays’, in every language and every country.

Now, more than 30 global airline clients, with customers in more than 100 countries and speaking 30 different languages have implemented it.

“The goal was to import dynamic fares into a marketing channel, to effectively start the conversation about ticket process much earlier than usual in the airline sales funnel, which has led to some incredible results. You can also filter it be most popular or currently selected destinations,” continues Cassel, “Whichever speaks to that marketing concept at the time.”

“We pull together content and fares, which helps to build an expectation around the cost of the flight – but at the same time with the more common ‘inspirational content’; such as social media images and videos.”

“Get them to buy, give them a great product experience and that’s where you gain loyalty”

Cassel continues: “This goes back to the discussion I had with Brett at the conference: a piece of the puzzle is missing. Airlines are actively marketing inspirational content but are not well-equipped to then convert this interest into transactions. They talk about brand loyalty before they’ve even gained that person as a customer. We say get them to buy, give them a great product experience and that’s where you gain loyalty.”

Work backwards

He tells me that airlines know how to capture customers with an already-high level of intent, but they need to improve their ability to bring mid-funnel users to purchase. “It’s almost working backwards to traditional approaches,” continues Cassel.

“Major global OTAs are effective throughout the funnel – especially at the top – but OTA’s go on loss-making exercise (because of commissions) to pick up traffic. OTAs go on a longer-term project to upsell hotel/cruise packages. Airlines need to be more selective at who to market to.”

Seth Cassel, EveryMundo president

“Data gathering and personalisation takes huge investment and effort. We prefer to use actionable data to improve the lifetime value of a customer. There’s this popular notion of accumulation of data – but in our experience, data alone is not reliable.

“At most, a third of visitors who come back are recognized as return visitors. It’s a waste to remarket to return visitors and you don’t need to offer inspiration to already-loyal customers. Different customers require different incentives.”

Fleeting e-commerce opportunities

Of course, currently there is a huge regulatory effort to capture data because of the GDPR announcement, but he claims that it’s misleading to say you need data for the sake of data.

Cassel concluded: “Some of our users are anonymous except we know that they came through a search advert or geotargeting.

“Our thesis is that airlines should be capturing that traffic and then just ‘get them on the plane’. Then brand loyalty comes from a positive experience during travel. Most airlines are not equipped to capitalise on spend on marketing. Stop sharing momentary information; talk about fares ASAP. For example, once visitors come to our page, say from a Facebook ad, there are dedicated real estate to continue the conversation about fares.

“Just get them on the plane”

“Often we present the lowest fare, mainly just to set an expectation, as some customers are of course price-sensitive but flexible on the travel date. It’s the classic behavioural economics study of the trade-off between cost and value. By the time they get to the booking engine, they have a good idea about fares. They arrive as qualified leads having been enticed and informed.

Presupposing rational thought

Building this expectation of fare prices has actually increased purchase rates of products above the lowest price. Cassel explains that “there’s so much irrationality around flight purchase. We just help airlines to appreciate the reality of this. We inspire visitors to want to travel but within the direct booking channel.”

“Make it really easy to make the purchase and ‘get out the door'”

“Entice your customers with information and inspire them to buy – don’t inspire to just want to travel. And don’t force them to give you loads of data – this is “old school retail”!  Show them something they want and make it really easy to make the purchase and get out the door. Then give them a good product experience. Then you get their data profile; focus on high-performance marketing – that leads to a booking – before you benefit from large investment on personalisation.”

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