Coincidentally a few days after I posted about the new investment body Howzat Media, I happened to hear David Soskin, CEO of Cheapflights, talking at the recent AlwaysOn media conference in New York via a webcast.
According to the Cheapflights About page information:
Cheapflights is a travel price comparison website. Well, if we were in a bragging mood, we’d tell you we are the country’s leading travel price comparison website (and give you the stats to back it up). But, we’re a nice bunch of people and we don’t want to brag, we just want to help you find the best and cheapest flight we possibly can.
So what does David Soskin believe has made Cheapflights and its advertising policies successful? Here is the essence of his talk:
- “We have been an innovator in the sector since 1996”
- “Our market share has been booming in the US and doubled our share in a year”
- “Our model is quite similar to TRAVELZOO except we focus on flights, whereas TRAVELZOO covers everything.”
- “Search for the travel industry is very important because of its inherent long tail [lots of individuals who want to book flights I assume cg] – there is more to the travel industry than just Expedia.”
- “Google is very much the market leader for providing leads to airlines, but there is a growing segment called vertical search. Do people come to vertical search? Yes, because for many people it provides a more satisfying user experience.”
- “If you want to find a great deal from Boston to Los Angeles and you want to find a great price, Google doesn’t help you. You need to come to a site such as Cheapflights where we have selected the best flight operators and, using our own algorithms, sorted out the very best prices for a whole range of different dates.”
- “The advertisers on vertical sites are gaining much exposure to would-be customers who are so much closer to a purchasing decision than those who come from a Google search. That’s the motivation for advertisers to appear on vertical sites.”
- “Why are metrics and analysis important? Because there is a very long tail in travel. We display 200,000 city pairs, 800,000 flight offers daily and we have over 80 travel advertisers on our site.”
- “We are the innovator in the sector, we invented the model in 1996 and introduced pay-to-click in the UK in 2000. We opened bidding for premium positions in 2002 and in 2003 launched the first multi-booking solution. In 2006 we debuted the Cheapflights partner portal where analytics are so very important. We have developed the first place on the Internet where travel operators could analyse the clicks they were getting on any particular route. They can see in real time where they are getting their clicks and adjust their advertising spend and prices they send us accordingly. So it’s a very powerful tool for the huge US travel business to market on-line.”
David finished with a touch of philosophy:
“Finally, we at Cheapflights follow the philosophy of possibly the richest man in the world, the founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad. He says ‘Only while sleeping one makes no mistakes, the fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy and the enemy of evolution.’ We constantly trial new things, some work some don’t, but we keep trying.”