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NRK Broadcast – Webmarketing Activity

17 June, 2011

This week saw the launch of the NRK broadcast, which streams a Hurtigruten voyage North in its entirety. Streaming began at 19:45 CET last night and is currently being watched by thousands across the globe. Watch the live stream here.

To promote Hurtigruten, the Global Web Team has created a set of activities to help spread the word of this fantastic event.

These activities include;

Download a visual document on all the above mentioned activities.

Read a full indepth article at NRK BETA (in English)

We hope you enjoy the broadcast!

Why not increase Hurtigruten online sales some more?

6 June, 2011

During the last 18 months, Hurtigruten has increased online sales by approx. 3300% (and we didn’t start at $0 …). We want to increase online sales even more and soon we will make some more adjustments.

Online success is easy

Sales is very easy. If people can’t find you, they will go somewhere else. If people don’t talk about your product, you will sell less. If they come to your store, but can’t find the product they want, they are less likely to buy. If your customers can’t find the checkout counter, they won’t buy! There’s all kinds of theory that support these simple facts. The behavior model is valid in all purchasing situations offline and online. You don’t have to be a scientist to get the point!

There are two basic ingredients to online success for travel companies:

  1. Increase sales – If you don’t have a website, customers won’t buy from you online. If you don’t show up in Google when people search for your name, it’s less likely that they will buy from you. If people arrive on your website and can’t see where to buy, they will end up calling or buying somewhere else (thereby increasing distribution costs). The basics are taken care. My point is that minor changes can have a huge impact on online sales!
  2. Cut costs – The other side of sales is distribution costs. The internet gives companies a chance to lower distribution costs drastically. By automating business processes for end-consumers and for valued travel agency partners, we make our business more efficient.

The key principle is: Increase sales – lower costs.  It’s not rocket surgery.

I want to show you how one small adjustment lead to a significant increase in online sales and then explain how another adjustment can boost our online sales even more.

Success story: Double sales with one minor change

On February 16 2011, we introduced a travel search box on our front page (click link for explanation). The immediate impact was a doubling in traffic (as seen below) to our booking engine (also known as the checkout counter). The traffic to our website did not increase, but more people found what they were looking for, and they proceeded to the checkout counter. Sales increased significantly and we wondered why we didn’t implement this a long time ago. What would our online revenue be today if we had made this change 12 months ago?

The investment minor. The ROI was huge.

The graph shows the traffic to the Hurtigruten booking engine after introducing key functionality on the front page

Here’s how the front page on Hurtigruten.no looks with key functionality on the front page:

The front page of Hurtigruten.no with key functionality on the front page

Next steps: Increase sales even more with another minor change

Now we have new insight! In March 2011, Spotless Interactive and Netlife Research presented the findings from usability tests performed in London, Hamburg and Oslo. Lots of interesting insights, but more importantly we now have supporting documentation from some of the best usability/psychology web experts in the world that our websites and booking engines have lots of improvement potential. One simple and quite obvious observation was that most of the people that tested our websites did not use the search functionality on the front page. The reason: In order to use the search box, the customer needs to scroll down on the page. Out 10 people in the UK usability tests, only 2 (!) saw the search box feature! Since we know that this feature drives traffic to the checkout counter, we want more people to see it! The picture below shows (very roughly) how we potentially can increase the traffic to our checkout counter from 2 out 10 customers to 6 out of 10 (an educated guess). If more people see it, more people will use it.

Front page with key functionality above the fold

Next steps

The business case is obvious. A similar modification in February basically doubled our online sales. We expect the modification described in this blogpost to have an even stronger impact.  The change will be implemented on June 6th, 2011.

Booking engine update May 2011

11 May, 2011

Today we will release several new improvements to our agent booking solution and consumer booking solution. The focus for this release is to finalize outstanding bugs and stabilize the systems.

Overview of release and improvements:

  • MIL/ STU/ HON cannot be combined in B2X
  • Excursions cannot be online booked if less than 14 days to departure
  • Contact ship (including ship number) to be presented when searching availability too close to departure
  • CRC booking confirmation email to include Departure Date in subject field (to prioritization purposes)
  • Filtered tour excursions booked directly into PG
  • B2C Germany – Self Service Amendments
  • B2C 3rd party handling for when paying customer differs from travelling customer
  • Summer tour bookings failing in B2B
  • Incorrect meal pricing due to conversion rates
  • Smaller bug fixes (translations, best available cabin, missing text in B2C FR)

The next release will take place after the summer, but with no release dates yet planned.

Feel free to contact me or leave your comments and suggestions below.

Project Management made easy

9 May, 2011

At Hurtigruten, like many international organizations, we have an influx in internal emails each day. Constantly being carbon copied and receiving emails that do not require action lead to several hours a week of being “informed”.

I dislike meetings and being CC’d – I am very hands on with my approach and like to get into the details, the nitty-gritty and the only alternatives we had in communicating was to be bombarded with emails or attend daily meetings. That was until spring 2010.

A year ago, we decided to cut down on internal email and use Basecamp. I was introduced to Basecamp a month earlier after reading ReWork and having only heard positive comments regarding the tool, I looking forward to getting stuck in.

When Hurtigruten began using Basecamp, it was used for uploading notes from our bi-weekly global web meetings. This quickly transcended into a Jamie Pittock, Erskine Design approach of “It’s (project management) all about making sure people write stuff down in Basecamp rather than scraps of paper.”

All projects, meetings and ideas are now discussed in Basecamp and are shared between E-Commerce, IT, Reservations, Marketing and Web. Not only are we able to track projects, it also removes the necessity of reporting as the projects provide an overview of progress. Instead of writing up summaries or completing excel sheets; we are now able to link to the project directly.

Karl Philip Lund, Hurtigruten Web team summarized our initial approach with “The secret to getting basecamphq to work in large organizations is to start small. As time goes by, the value becomes very clear.”

As online sales increase, the management is becoming more interested in our web activities. We have created accounts for each of the management and they can now view exactly where their budgets are being spent! Recently, our VP of Global Sales, Hans Rood began to comment on our projects and supporting our efforts in Basecamp.

Having realized the benefit of using Basecamp, discussions have now begun in our IT department to create and manage projects in Basecamp as well. We expect this to spread throughout the company

Basecamp allows us to track all of our projects and is the best communication tool we use at Hurtigruten. After each meeting, our action plan now begins with “Create project in basecamp”.

Booking engine update April 2011

13 April, 2011

Yesterday, we released several new improvements to our agent booking solution and consumer booking solution.

The focus for this release is to automate the manual workload and stabilize the systems before the development freeze May 1st.

Overview of release and improvements:

  • Excursions booked automatically into PG
  • Excursions filtering to only show excursions applicable for the selected voyage
  • *Improving “find booking” function in B2B

Overview of bug fixes and technical tasks:

  • Booking fails before customer arrives at payment
  • Error on cancel booking
  • Symbols on car reg
  • Bug in port filtering on Excursions
  • GUI-support for selecting excursions on return trip
  • Changes to the passenger page in B2C

There will be one more release before the freeze, which is to be released into production on April 28th (B2X v2.7). No further improvements other than big fixes will be made.

Feel free to contact me (steven.macdonald@hurtigruten.com) or leave your comments and suggestions below.

A quick view on what Hurtigruten really is all about (in Swedish)

31 March, 2011
by


Great interview of Kristina on the global web team.

How to build a fast-moving webteam

29 March, 2011

Despite internal frustrations and challenges, the results show that we’re moving fast in the right direction. During the last 18 months,  we see that  Hurtigruten web traffic increased (37%) and online sales has increased (3300%). In addition the most important conversion rates have increased significantly. When reviewing our progress I wanted to briefly review the “how” and the “why”. This blog will summarize how I think you can build a fast-moving webteam and keep momentum.

Autonomy

A recent Skype conversation with the Global Web Manager, Robert Isaksen lead to the agreement that autonomy is the best asset we have within the Hurtigruten web team. Autonomy is defined as “self-government, or the right of self-government; independence”. Being able to work on projects freely is a wonderful thing – It brings confidence in your work as you are able to take ownership of success and failures. I have found that previously in my career, autonomy was the reason for my growth. As soon as other people started putting restrictions on my activities, I became less proactive and eventually, less motivated. Being autonomous is the reason I have maintained my levels of motivation for 18 months at Hurtigruten.

The freedom to choose when, where, with who and how work is performed is the key to success. A recent presentation by Dan Pink supported the fact that autonomy is a critical factor, highlighting Google’s 20 percent rule and how some employees of Google use 20 percent of their time to work on whatever they want – Resulting in half of Google’s new products.

Consistent communication is key

Every two weeks, the global web team holds a 1-hour meeting with news from each market and web traffic, online sales and search marketing results. We also share individual updates on what we have been focusing on the previous two weeks, and where our focus lies for the upcoming two weeks. All of this is documented in the project management tool,  Basecamp.

Basecamp allows us to track all of our projects and is the best communication tool we use at Hurtigruten. Each web project is added into Basecamp and we are able to follow up on all projects that we are involved in, thus reducing the need for additional internal emails. It also provides management an overview on what where the focus in the web team lies.

Another key tool in communicating on a constant basis is Skype.  By creating Skype chat groups we are able to be involved with live discussions in various projects without the need for tens of meetings per day. I am able to actively write emails, participate in multiple Skype discussions and communicate with my team all at the same time. And with the integration feature that SnapEngage has recently launched, we are now able to conduct live web chat sessions with travel agencies and clients while we are logged into Skype.

“Implement like hell” – Jack Welch

Being able to do things without going through bureaucracy and company politics is key. Even if not 100% ready, don’t be scared to launch a page or function. Customers and Google Analytics will tell you what needs reworking or updating. Our “Beta launch” principle has made this a lot  easier and acceptable internally and for the end user. By launching in beta you avoid setting too high expectations and if we are to wait until we are 100% ready, then the expectations quickly rise.

We recently created an Online SalesCycle process with Test, Launch, Sell, Repeat – Making it clear the need for testing and developing should never discontinue and that we are never 100% ready.

A competitor has been working on its booking engine for five years, waiting for it to be 100% ready whereas Hurtigruten have launched our booking engine in English, Swedish, Norwegian and more recently French and German within the space of a year. We know it is not the best booking engine in the world but with customer feedback, we are developing functionality on a monthly basis. and with each release, we move closer to making the booking process as smooth as possible(we still have a loong way to go…).

Driving Key Activities

Assigning drivers to key activities gives the driver ownership and thus increases their will to commit to the project. We have also used a common method of high/ low value and easy/difficult complexity for each functionality. This approach allows us to focus our priorities and not be pulled into projects that are not in line with the Hurtigruten web strategy. Here is a look at where my focus lies within the Hurtigruten web team.

We will continue with this approach throughout 2011 and early figures show we are on target to surpass our sales and web traffic results for 2010. However, the real pleasure comes from enjoying what we do and the above will not be of any benefit if it wasn’t for that.