'Sunweb remains a package provider'

Sunweb.nl is the most important sales channel of the tour operator of the same name. It is therefore continuously looked at what can be done better. According to commercial director Tim Van den Bergh of parent company Sundio, personalization is the greatest challenge. "We also want to offer non-customers relevant content

Sunweb.nl is the most important sales channel of the tour operator of the same name. It is therefore continuously looked at what can be done better. According to commercial director Tim Van den Bergh of parent company Sundio, personalization is the greatest challenge. "We also want to offer non-customers relevant content."

What is the most important lesson you have learned in the sixteen years that Sunweb.nl exists?
"We have mainly realized that our site should be fun, because the holiday season starts with orientation. And people want certainty that they make the right choice, so you have to provide a lot of information. That is our added value compared to online travel agents (OTAs), there is relatively little inspiring work. Furthermore, we pay a lot of attention to the different ways of searching and booking customers. Someone who is looking for a last-minute is different than a traveler who wants to go on holiday in a certain period, but has no idea where. This requires advanced filters in our search and book system. We are working hard to develop it further. "

How far are you with personalization?
"We have formed a number of personas. Once we know where a visitor is in the customer journey, we can adjust the offer accordingly. If someone clicked in the newsletter on a trip to Greece, we can show you a number of accommodations in Greece on the website at the next visit. Personalization we apply cross-device and cross-channel. We are already going quite far in that. But you can always continue. "

What are the next steps then?
"I think we can deepen a few levels when applying customer behavior. Doing more with personalization in combination with inspiration. To take Greece as an example again: the visitor might be interested in small-scale hotels. We are not yet using such information. So we want to become even more relevant. For this we have to collect a lot of data and process it correctly, with due observance of the privacy legislation. That is a limiting factor. We therefore try to let people know what their preferences and interests are, but they are existing customers. And we also want to offer non-customers relevant content. "

What does personalization deliver in concrete terms?
"The more personal you approach the customer, the more the conversion increases. This applies to advertising, the website and newsletters. We already send personalized newsletters, but you can always go deeper. It is not that we sell twice as many trips, but the conversion increases sufficiently to believe hard in the investment. And we do not just sell something, we also want to be relevant to customers, so that they stay customer for a long time. "

How do you determine the effectiveness of the website?
"Obviously by measuring the conversion, but also click-through rates, qualitative visits and external research. We ask customers to find out what degree of personalization they find pleasant. And we do a lot of AB tests to see what works. We also use web analytics and NPS measurements. Everything we do is based on data. Instinct or gut feeling are not valid reasons for us to change anything, research always precedes. "

How important is mobile for you?
"We still have to take many steps in this. We have a separate development team for mobile. The use of our mobile site is growing very fast in the exploratory phase, but the number of bookings is still negligible. That is partly up to us - the mobile site can be much better. The design should be simpler so that we can show exactly the information that visitors find important. Someone who is orientated wants to receive a lot of information, but they do not endlessly scroll on their smartphone. We have to find a balance in that. The second reason why we want to quickly get the mobile site underway is that the ads on social media link to it. It is, of course, a waste to spend money on marketing if the visitor then has no optimal experience. I also think that mobile books will come. If you see how much conversion Booking.com realizes via smartphones and tablets, then that is encouraging. With us it will take a bit longer, because people on Sunweb.nl book longer holidays, often with the family. That is well thought about. "

What are your ambitions for the website?
"We will regularly make changes at the mobile site. Do not expect 'big bang'. We know where we want to go and first pick the low-hanging fruit. That means that the ease of use will be tackled first. The regular site is also constantly changing, with a focus on personalized content, inspiration and the various ways of searching our visitors want. "

Can the visitor compose his trip himself in five years?
"We will be able to offer that option, but it will not be a dynamic packaging 'pur sang' because that is not our business model. We remain a package provider. This does not alter the fact that our visitors feel that they are compiling a trip themselves, because we offer something for everyone. "

Sunweb has been nominated as Website of the Year 2016 in the Holiday & Tourism category. You can vote until 4 November

Header photo: cc Henry Solich