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How to Convey Luxury Through a Screen

The digitization of business processes is transforming every aspect of modern commerce. From round-the-clock availability to real-time fulfillment and personalized communications, digital technology helps companies achieve better operational efficiency and innovative, responsive marketing. Customers now routinely expect a seamless multichannel experience—and with help from digital, businesses can give this.

But what happens when an offering doesn’t easily translate across channels? An Oracle Maxymiser partner, Jumeirah is a luxury travel brand—and, in the age of experiential marketing, it has faced an uphill battle in conveying real-life luxury through the clinical screens of desktops, tablets, and mobile screens. To overcome this, Jumeirah ensured its customers had an online experience that both mirrored its values as a luxury brand and even evoked the look and feel of a great brick-and-mortar experience.

Oracle Maxymiser caught up with Luke Underwood, Director of Content & Optimization at the Jumeirah Group about how Maxymiser’s CXO strategy helped Jumeirah build a long-term CXO strategy that measures and responds to evolving customer behaviors. With help from Oracle Maxymiser, Jumeirah drove a healthy increase in booking conversions and increased engagement through the purchase funnel.

What is some background information people should know about Jumeirah?

Jumeirah Group is an international hospitality and hotel management company. We’re a luxury brand; in fact, our flagship hotel, Buri Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai, is widely recognized as the world’s most luxurious hotel.

In the age of experiential marketing, Jumeirah has faced an uphill battle in conveying real-life luxury through the clinical screens of desktops, tablets, and mobile screens.

Although we boast a strong footprint in Dubai, we’re a very global organization. Jumeirah operates 23 hotels in 10 countries, including properties in London, Rome, Shanghai, and the Maldives. Our core focus is on “retail transient” business, which is a highly competitive market that targets customers who want to take a personal vacation or need to book corporate travel.

What are the drivers behind Jumeirah’s CXO strategy?

Our commercial operations include interaction via customer contact centers and partnerships with online travel agents (OTAs). However, with the vast majority of brand marketing conducted via digital channels, more than a third of our sales are generated online. The proliferation of tablet and mobile means we’re seeing incremental increases in online revenues; therefore, our retail transient business is experiencing double-digit growth year-on-year, despite challenging market conditions.

The growth of social media and fierce competition from major OTAs have also added new dynamics in our battle to maintain margins. In this tough environment, digital runs through almost everything we do. Digital is the easiest way for us to reach new and returning guests and to promote the luxury Jumeirah brand.

Can you tell us about the roadmap Jumeirah built for its optimization campaign?

Jumeirah’s CXO program has two broad aims: to deliver an efficient booking service and, crucially, to maintain a compelling customer experience. The challenge we face as a luxury hotel company is clear: How can we tell our story online and give users the same experience they would've gotten had they arrived in the lobby at Jumeirah Al Qasr in Dubai? How can we recreate even 5% of that grandeur and wow factor on a website?

How can we tell our story online and give users the same experience they would've gotten had they arrived in a brick-and-mortar lobby? How can we recreate even 5% of that grandeur?

To answer these questions, we had to strike a tough balance. On one hand, we want to deliver good processes that drive high conversion rates. But on the other hand, we want to provide a strong introduction to our brands that doesn’t get in the way of a purchase being completed. Our CXO work with Maxymiser therefore set out to improve customer experience by ensuring content was engaging throughout the whole purchase funnel without being distracting or causing abandonment.

On this note, we also wanted to look at key metrics—like booking abandonment and conversion—to see if we could move the needle in the right direction. We were seeing lots of people run searches and in some cases even add a room to their booking, just to quit the process later before they finalized the purchase. Although this is normal in the luxury travel environment, we wanted to minimize how frequently it happened to us.

And did you see the results you were looking for?

A key component of our CXO work has been a series of campaigns designed to reduce the number of steps customers face in the booking funnel. But we knew we had our work cut out for us. Booking travel is a complex process that automatically includes a lot of variables. In early 2014, our site had a six-page transaction funnel from search to purchase. We believed this was probably too many pages and may have been contributing to dropout rates.

Booking travel is a complex process that automatically includes a lot of variables. But we still believed we had too many pages in the transaction funnel.

This is why we worked with Maxymiser—to develop a multivariate campaign that could advise us on whether reducing the number of steps in the booking funnel increase conversions, by way of giving customers fewer chances or less motivation to drop out.

This campaign had a significant positive impact on conversion rates! All of our optimization tests have helped us reduce the booking flow to a three-page process. And yes—this has driven a healthy increase in booking conversions. Most importantly, from a customer’s perspective, our booking funnel is just better. We’re now giving customers better information about their trips earlier in the booking process. We’ve simplified how people can book their accommodations.

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