Becoming Loyalty‑First with The Holiday Place: A Q&A with Sergio Garcia Gonzalez
The Holiday Place is a UK-based travel company that wants to create the holiday of your dreams. Yes, YOUR dreams; an unforgettable experience that is tailor made for you. It’s a huge differentiator between the other travel companies out there selling one-size-fits-all travel bundles.
Sergio Garcia Gonzalez, the Head of Marketing and IT at The Holiday Place, is core to driving this mission forward, with over ten years of experience within the holiday and marketing space and a sharp focus on building customer loyalty and providing a unique and customised brand experience for every individual. Working across both Marketing and IT means Sergio has an acute interest in using technology to transform customer relationships, while never losing sight of what’s important to the business — the customer.
We recently caught up with Sergio to discuss some key topics that all marketers can relate to including the great deluge of data, the role of personalisation in marketing, building loyalty in a crowded market, and much more, in this Q&A.
SAILTHRU: What are the core areas of focus this year for you and your Marketing team?
SERGIO: We’ve been working on reinventing the brand and getting back to what we’re passionate about, which is to be an artisan holiday provider. We see so many other companies operate as a commodity by bundling together the car, flights and hotel but there is no human-side to it and not what The Holiday Place is about.
How are you making your brand feel more “human” and less like a commodity?
SERGIO:We’re focused on having a healthy longtail by constantly adding products to the portfolio but this is just one part of what our customers want. In the past we used to send newsletters to them but we were unable to communicate the advantages The Holiday Place has over other providers.
It’s a competitive market and you have to be able to stand out. Holiday buyers are making a very emotional purchase and they want their break to be perfect. We care about this and our travellers. With this in mind, we’ve moved away from the ‘deal of the week’ mentality and are now focusing on being engaging by showing our personality to the customer. We’re doing this by sending relevant knowledge-filled content to them, competitions for them to take part in, and by matching the content we send to the mindset of the individual customer.
How is your company making strides towards connecting your ecosystem of channels?
SERGIO: Before working with Sailthru we were challenged with having disparate data across the company. With Sailthru we’ve been able to standardise the use of the data across teams; it has been huge for us.
We now have different layers of rich data which includes transactional, behavioural and customer interest data. It’s enriched our own IT and Marketing team but has gone further than that. For instance, our call centre can see what interests the individual customer has, which is so important. For us it’s a way to have conversations with better information to make better suggestions to our customers, and to help them make informed buying decisions.
What role does technology play to build customer loyalty at The Holiday Place?
SERGIO: Our IT and Marketing teams work extremely closely to build on loyalty. Looking back on the development of technology, the landscape has totally changed. Marketers have detailed insights into the customer available to them and this needs to be used wisely.
We had been looking for a technology which offered personalisation, an open API, integration capabilities in both directions and, most importantly, the ability to provide different layers of data on the individual customer. We’ve achieved all of this with Sailthru. There’s now a holistic view of the customer, which has helped us to better the customer’s experience with our brand.
Were your teams always focused on loyalty as a primary success metric? If not, how did Sailthru play a role in helping redefine your success?
SERGIO: Before, the focus of our direct response campaigns was on open rates, click throughs and those types of KPIs, which are still important but there’s a much bigger picture. Now with the data Sailthru has made available to us, the focus is on increasing loyalty with personalisation and this can only be achieved with the right technology. Other companies promise they can provide the platform for this, but we found Sailthru has truly delivered it.
However, it’s not just the right technology you need, the change towards a loyalty-focused business needs to come from all teams. Moving away from a deal-focused mindset was critical for our team to help deliver on the vision. For The Holiday Place, personalisation isn’t just a tactic, it’s central to our business model.