CON-X interview: Martin Kleinman, Director Hotel Partnership Lastminute.com
Posted by Vero
“Connectivity technology is our lifeblood”
Next May 7, Martin Kleinman will be in Mallorca at the first CON-X conference organized by the TravelgateX team. In this opportunity, Martin shares with us his reflection on the challenges of technology and tourism.
How did you become part of the lastminute.com group team and what projects do you work on?
This is my 12th year with lastminute.com, it’s always been a fast-paced exciting place to work, constantly evolving, a cool-brand in the UK, and a champion of the customer… these values are what attracted me to the company & still keep me motivated today. I’m responsible for providing relevant hotel-supply for our customers, this means managing various in-market teams to both works directly with hotel partners, and indirectly with bed-bank suppliers. The value of these partnerships is then passed onto the customer, giving them the competitive accommodation they’re looking for with every search. Of course, this means I also work closely with our product, marketing, media, and technology teams on many varied projects, ensuring that we present our hotel supply to our customers with maximum benefit.
There are more and more players joining the game, and big players growing exponentially, where is the edge? How does an OTA stand out from the crowd?
We celebrated our 20th birthday in 2018, and in that time we’ve seen major changes in the OTA landscape. Despite the huge changes in the way people travel and book their trips, we’ve managed to stay relevant and strong in an industry which has some major players.
For us, it started out with personalisation and creating exciting experiences for customers, and this concept has come full circle. We’ve always been different and a bit “pinker” than our competitors – lastminute.com still retains very high-levels of brand recognition. We’ve also got a huge level of trust and respect within the industry, working with key partners from airlines to major hotel chains to develop relationships and improve and enhance our product offering.
Our investment in Dynamic Packaging Technology, and the book together phenomenon which has evolved in the last few years, has meant we can keep step with the changing travel landscape.
Our agile size means that we can get close to our partners, giving them a direct and dedicated relationship which gives us access to advantageous and tailored inventory.
What makes consumer’s experience something different in your company?
Customer Karma has always been at the heart of our business, and investment in technology, from improving the online booking flow, to making sure our app experience better caters for mobile booking ensures the experience is a good one.
With our strong partnerships in Hotel, Air, Train, Experiences, we combine a one-stop-shop for travellers providing all the relevant and inspiring offers with genuine value. In dynamic-packages the whole team, the whole company pull together to ensure every single part of the booking experience has been built to perfection, and we sincerely feel the customer feels that detailed attention when making that all-important investment in their holiday planning.
What is your relationship with meta searchers and how do you think this will evolve?
‘Jetcost’ and ‘Hotelscan’ are two meta sites that are part of the lm group family, this gives us an in-house insight into meta sites & customer activity. Across the company, we utilise meta as a marketing channel and constantly shift expertise from channel to channel. Meta is vital, relevant for online distribution, and will remain a key channel for the future.
How are you using AI to add value to your customers?
Five years ago, lm group were one of the first travel companies working on the evolution and usage of AI, in conjunction with a Milan University. Today we’ve invested in machine-learning and are very keen in AI implementation. We have a team of data scientists in our headquarters focusing on personalisation, marketing performance, algorithms on pricing, the list & opportunities are vast and exciting.
How crucial are technology to your business and specifically connectivity?
Connectivity technology is our lifeblood. Our partners are increasingly finding new and improved methods of connecting, and therefore we’re always mindful of ensuring we work with numerous partners. Giving our customers seamless results, updated in real-time, is part of our promise to the customers, ensuring the best inventory always, therefore it’s our job to always keep on top of technology for today, tomorrow and beyond.Learn More About TravelgateX