UK’s fastest growing metasearch and holiday deals platform to work with high street agents to deliver more highly personalised travel planning experiences to its users with the icelolly local.
Icelolly.com is set to launch an all-new concept that presents local travel agent listings to searchers within the icelolly.com site that actively encourages online customers to call or book appointments with expert high street travel agents in their region.
Icelolly, which is now the UK’s fastest growing holiday comparison website according to Hitwise data Q1 2018*, developed the concept during a company-wide innovation session earlier this year. The initiative, which will be an industry first for metasearch, was conceived after the business ‘challenged itself to think about how it could deliver a more personalised and inspirational user experience within metasearch,’ according to Ross Matthews, CMO @ icelolly.com.
“We kept coming back to the human touch that only travel agents can deliver,” says Ross. “Connecting local travel agents with the right customers at the right time in their travel research and planning journey makes absolute sense and we quickly started to develop the idea that has become icelolly local.”
“We recognise that for every person that likes to book online, there are others that appreciate the expert advice of high street travel agents when planning their holidays. We hope that icelolly local can be a shining example of harnessing the advantages that AI and machine learning can offer whilst recognising that we’ll never replace humans – in this case travel agents – in the travel planning and research process”.
“There are over 68,000 travel agents in the UK, and we’re looking forward to creating the platform that allows this community to participate in metasearch” See ref
Travel agents interested in participating are being asked to register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why icelolly local?
There has been a huge shift to mobile travel research over the last 5 years. Traditionally, this research would have involved a discussion with a travel agent, on many occasions within a high street branch. We feel that meta search sometimes misses the human touch particularly, where users have very specific holiday plans, complex itineraries or for holiday products that lend themselves to planning face to face with a travel agent such as a cruise, multi-centre or guided touring holiday.
Why should travel agents participate in icelolly local?
Our solution is simple. When users are searching on their mobile and choose to share their location with icelolly, we can pinpoint local travel agents and present ‘local’ options to our users. The user can then call the agent or book a face to face appointment. Everyone is familiar with Uber; think of this as Uber for travel agents.
How do travel agents participate in icelolly local?
Agents interested in generating additional high value leads from metasearch should register their interest via email at email@example.com. Once we’ve finalised the registration process we’ll be communicating to agents with further joining instructions.
What should agents think of this new initiative?
Our aim is to connect digital audiences to high street travel agents in a way that nobody has done before in travel. You only have to look at the largest UK tour operators with their own retail stores; if you visit their websites it’s sometimes difficult to find their store locator or even contact a local agent. We want to make metasearch accessible to large and small travel agents alike.
Does it cost agents to participate?
We’re working through options on this currently. We have to make it cost effective for agents. We’re already in discussions with a handful of independent agents on this topic. It will most likely be a pay for performance model.
When will icelolly local launch?
Our aim is to beta launch the service later this year with a select few agents so that we can iron out any potential glitches before we launch fully. Agents interested in participating in the beta and helping us develop the solution should register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a price comparison do you think agents can compete with OTAs pricing?
With ‘icelolly local’, agents don’t have to compete on price, in fact they don’t actually present a price at all. We’re using AI to develop a solution that presents local agent details to the right users only. For instance, we know users who are browsing via mobile, share their location and filter to high value holidays are more likely to make a phone call to our existing travel partners; therefore offering an appointment to discuss travel planning with an agent face to face is a natural product extension for us. It’s all about choice for our users.
Isn’t this simply a gimmick?
There are many OTA’s and metasearch businesses investing more and more money into improving their digital experiences, using algorithms to determine what holidays users may or may not like. We think that there is a huge opportunity to connect metasearch to the real travel planning experts, travel agents. Holiday planning and research should be fun, it’s become a little robotic…
Example ‘local’ results within the icelolly.com website:
Founded in 2005, icelolly.com is now the UK’s fastest growing holiday comparison website according to Hitwise data Q1 2018, with more than 20 million visitors each year generating over 40m search queries annually. Users of icelolly.com’s holiday meta search and travel deals platform can compare millions of great deals on package holidays, cruises and UK breaks from the UK’s leading travel companies. All holidays advertised in the icelolly.com marketplace are ATOL protected. Being able to compare deals from more than 30 different travel companies, who add their best offers daily, allows customers to save time researching their holiday and save money, making icelolly.com a firm favourite with British holidaymakers.