Travellers Choice

Case Study specific to our Franchise Model and displayed on Verdi Website

Travellers Choice is the fourth biggest travel agent that was formed more than 30 years ago and consists of over 160 members (Travellers Choice agents) in various states. And while they are not a franchise, like a Franchise Business, one of the biggest challenges faced by Travellers Choice was a way in which each of the 160 Travellers Choice agents could afford to have a decent website and advertise the same travel and destination information on their websites.

IBC Digital met with the various stakeholders at Travellers Choice and their Business Development managers and worked out a 2 phase strategy to help Travellers Choice and their Travellers Choice agents with this issue. The first phase of the strategy was to reposition the Travellers Choice brand as Travel Destination specialist with a new website and custom “holiday finder” search functionality that was designed and developed by IBC Digital. The new branding positioned Travellers Choice as a people focused business “come and visit a local and experienced agent to learn more about holiday ideas, options and packages to suite your needs”. Therefore the Travellers Choice website was designed to funnel customers to the local Travellers Choice agent microsite, at which point the local Travellers Choice agents have an opportunity to build a relationship with the customer.

To direct customers to the Travellers Choice agent microsites;

  • Find a Travellers Choice agent to be included with every product listing.
  • Travellers Choice agents can nominate specialisations
  • Automated proximity search using post codes
  • Allow for search by specialisation also
  • In listings of Traveller Choice agents on the website, those with their own microsite is given prominence

Phase Two-The Travellers Choice website and the Travellers Choice agent microsites are developed using Verdi CMS which allows for multiple sites. Verdi CMS also allows the creation and management of content in one centralised location and then this content can be published (modified is best to avoid content duplication) across all the websites and microsites. Each Travellers Choice agent microsite had the full functionality and capabilities of the Travellers Choice main website. Therefore Travellers Choice agents had the ability to login and update any content related to their microsite and Travellers Choice had the ability to publish centralised content required by all their Travellers Choice agents to all the agent’s microsites. This means that Travellers Choice agents did not have to waste time duplicating content already available on the Travellers Choice main website and could have a fully functional Travel microsite at a fraction of the cost and in a short amount of time.

Verdi CMS conforms to multisite needs such as might be needed by a franchise

Verdi CMS is highly customisable and websites are developed to match the marketing aims and business values and missions of each Franchise Business

For our Travellers Choice example, products are the main feature of the Travellers Choice websites and are featured/customised via the following methods.

Products are:

  • categorised by “experience” as well as destination E.g. biking
  • Products can appear under multiple categories E.g. Cruise and Asia
  • Strong Search functionality. Where no products match the search, people are encouraged to contact a Travellers Choice agent specialising in that type of travel product. Search to potentially include allowance for:
    • Region
    • Experience
    • Duration
    • Price range
    • Dates of travel
    • Keyword
    • Search results can be sorted by price, duration and destination.
  • Products to have additional information that can only be accessed by Travellers Choice agents when logged in. This is to assist phone enquiries.
  • Product information stored to include wholesaler information (for agent)
  • Site visitors can save a product to their favourites. No login is required to access favourites, ie: needs to be stored via cookies.
  • Site visitors will be able to “share” a holiday via Facebook and Twitter
Verdi CMS allows various levels of control

Travellers Choice chose a 60/40% model where Travellers Choice retains 60% of the control of the style, branding and content displayed on each Travellers Choice agent microsite. Leaving 40% of control in the hands of each Travellers Choice agent. This meant that each Travellers Choice agent could choose different styles and layouts for their microsites, and choose to promote products they felt were most relevant to their local audience, while still allowing Travellers Choice to publish essential information and branding on each microsite. The percentage of control is a personal choice based on the unique needs of each Franchise Business. A Franchisor could chose to maintain 100% of control. This process is managed through a clever workflow process and granular permissions system that assigns each person various levels of authorisation to edit or publish content and styles on a website. A person can be restricted to access only a specific section or piece of content on a specified site.

Digital Marketing for this style of business

The advantages for each Travellers Choice agent having their own site rather than a static listing from the main Travellers Choice website is the ability to add ‘local flavour’ to their website to appeal to their exact target market. The ability to build customer relationships online and engage the target audience. However the disadvantage is that Travellers Choice agent websites compete for search engine results rankings. To mitigate this competition we advise Travellers Choice agents to ensure their SEO efforts and SEM efforts are specific to the product they sell, the exact niche market and location targeted.

Verdi CMS Friendly Pricing Options for a Franchise style of business

If Travellers Choice had left it up to each of their Travellers Choice agents to pay for their own websites, a decent basic website that does not have the benefit of being powered by an enterprise level content management system, would on average cost;

$1,000-6,0000, Plus ongoing hosting and maintenance costs.

But by Choosing Verdi CMS and sharing costs with agents, Travellers Choice and all the Travellers Choice agents, can run their website/microsite with a full and powerful enterprise content management system, for a fraction of the cost:

Cost for a Travellers Choice agent Microsite that has all the functionality of the Travellers Choice main enterprise website is:

Just $100 per month/ per Travellers Choice agent (plus GST). Less than the annual hosting cost.

The actual costs incurred for a Franchise Business would depend on the pricing model chosen and level of customizations required.