Olympic Holidays – driving holiday bookings with email
Integration, automation and insight – how to bring it all together
Tightly integrated data applications, fully automated processes and the very latest in behavioural targeting – when it came to email marketing Olympic Holidays certainly had an ambitious vision. Here’s how Sign-Up.to’s Professional Services team helped Olympic make their vision a reality.
The Olympic Holidays story
For most of us the sun-drenched beaches, clear blue skies and days of endless sunshine to explore breath-taking scenery and golden sunsets might only be for a few weeks a year, but for the team at the leading independent specialist tour operator, Olympic Holidays, managing hundreds of thousands of highly targeted holiday emails is just another week in the office.
With offices in North London, Cyprus and throughout Greece, Olympic Holidays is a long established and well respected tour operator in the travel industry. From its small, early beginnings in the mid-1960s until now, Olympic Holidays has been constantly on sale in the UK, providing holidays to 34 Greek Islands, Cyprus, Turkey, Spain, Goa, Egypt, Gambia, Croatia, Malta and Portugal.
Over the years Olympic Holidays has been nominated for, and has won, consumer awards which are independent evidence of their consistent delivery of first class holidays, in-resort staff, excellent customer service, and all at unrivalled value for money.
Email marketing – the Olympic vision
When it comes to their email marketing, Olympic Holidays have taken a sophisticated approach. Working with Sign-Up.to’s integration services team they’ve implemented a highly integrated and automated process, custom designed to make the most of their in-house applications and data.
As Olympic Holiday’s IT Manager it’s the job of Allan Pang to design and manage their marketing infrastructure and make sure everything works perfectly. With the marketing demands of the Trade Sales, Direct Sales, Aviation and Yield departments, more than 300,000 subscribers and over 750,000 email sends per week, it’s a significant undertaking.
Allan explains his motivation:
“Integration of our various in-house data applications is completely central to our strategy. We have a large quantity of valuable information in our CRM and reservation system, in addition to our own and affiliated websites. Connecting all of this data together and making it available within Sign-Up.to is essential in order to drive all of the personalisation and automation which we rely on in our email campaigns.”
Olympic Holidays’ regular email output includes a range of weekly promotional and news campaigns, targeted product upsell, reminders to loyal customers of our Rewards Scheme, holiday reviews, and daily essential sales communications and offers to their community of trade partners.
Allan explains the journey to their current level of capability.
“We started with a fairly basic email functionality, using GroupMail, but quickly found limitations in the depth of analysis offered and other features that we needed, like split testing for example. We also tried Dotmailer and Sailthru but were frustrated by their inflexible and expensive purchase arrangements. More importantly, with our objectives in mind, neither were able to offer the services expertise or realistic pricing for the level of customisation we needed.”
Following an internet search Allan found Sign-Up.to being discussed on a blogging site.
“Although we were sceptical at first the Sign-Up.to team took the time to really understand our needs and to put forward an ambitious but realistic implementation plan. We also sent two of our marketing team on the Sign-Up.to Discovery Morning to get the inside view of some of the advanced techniques they’d be using. All in all we have been really impressed at both the features offered in the Sign-Up.to platform and the willingness and competence that Sign-Up.to have demonstrated through their integration services.”
Sign-Up.to’s proposal highlighted three main areas of customisation:
– Integration of Sign-Up.to with Olympic Holidays’ various in-house data systems
– A range of customised marketing automation processes
– Audience Insights – Sign-Up.to’s latest technology for advanced behavioural targeting.
An integrated solution – maximising the value in data
“The first step was to integrate Sign-Up to with our in-house CRM, our online reservation system, ATOP, and other systems like PAXPORT, our flight extras portal. This ensures that the most up to date data that we have in all of these systems is always available for our marketing team to use in their outgoing emails.”
In addition to the standard contact details, Olympic Holidays also manage over 30 customised subscriber profile fields – capturing information like holiday and flight details and extras, each customer’s preferences and their previous interest and purchase history. This data is passed via the Sign-Up.to API directly into their subscriber database, so it’s ready to use to personalise and deliver their email campaigns.
“The integration team at Sign-Up.to helped us create a detailed profile map for each of our subscriber contacts. Connecting this profile into our email system gives us the information that we need to drive the automation and personalisation which we use in our outgoing messages.”
Marketing Automation – efficiency and consistency
Automation also plays an important part in Olympic Holidays’ strategy. For example, date triggered emails are automatically sent to returning customers reminding them to post a review of their holiday experience. While marketing automation rules ensure that the emails are delivered at the correct time, integration also plays an important part in the process. A unique link containing all of the relevant details is automatically generated from the customer’s individual profile, and a direct login to the TripAdvisor and TrustPilot review sites make the whole experience quick and simple.
Audience Insights – the latest in behavioural targeting
Allan is especially excited about the final stage in their implementation – an advanced behavioural targeting programme using Sign-Up.to’s latest Audience Insights technology.
“Starting from our Sign-Up.to email campaigns we’ll use Google management tags to track each of our subscribers’ subsequent website activity – which pages they visit and which information they browse. From this we generate a unique holiday reference code which captures their observed interests. An XML feed then exports relevant holiday information from our website directly into Sign-Up.to where it is included into a personalised outgoing email. The whole process is automated so once it’s set up we can be sure that our contacts are always receiving both timely and highly relevant information.”
So how would Allan summarise their experience and achievements with Sign-Up.to?
“We certainly had ambitious objectives. Integrating our data systems, automating our processes and including advanced targeting techniques like Audience Insights is somewhat beyond your everyday email marketing approach. In Sign-Up.to to we’ve found a very willing and capable integration partner. The team not only embraced our objectives, they clearly have the expertise needed to deliver the highly customised environment that we have in place today.”