“Customers should be able to book on any device”

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E-Commercefacts.com and Ecommerce Europe kick off the new year with an interview series featuring diverse business partners of Ecommerce Europe- from vacation rental services to retailers and suppliers. We are proud to today present you our first article in this new series! E-Commercefacts.com interviewed Anette Rasmussen, Ecommerce manager for Ferienhaus Urlaub Dänemark, about the company’s cross-border e-commerce aspirations for 2014.

In 2012, the Danish vacation and holiday home rental market registered bookings from German guests over total of 362,000 rental weeks, while domestic Danish guests booked a total of 109,000 weeks.

Guests from other regions booked the remaining 47,000 rental weeks. The Danish company Sol og Strand (Sun and Beach) operates booking websites for vacation rentals in Danish, English, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Dutch and German language versions. Its ferienhaus-urlaub-danemark.de website has been offering holiday homes since 2001. In 2004, these activities were taken over by Sol og Strand Feriehusudlejning A/S; since then, the total number of holiday homes that can be booked online via the company’s website has increased significantly. German holidaymakers make up the largest market sector, followed by Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch visitors. Ferienhaus Urlaub Dänemark is a member of Ecommerce Europe and Sol og Strand is a member of FDIH, the Danish member organisation of Ecommerce Europe.

Price, trust and convenience as key selling points

Competition is intense in the market for holiday home rental platforms, especially in the German sector. In addition, there has been a slight decline in bookings from Germany; this may be due to factors including Denmark not being as sunny as other destinations, the service not having the best reputation or the perception that it is relatively expensive. “It is within these parameters that we are able to compete. Ferienhaus-urlaub-danemark.de is a budget site; therefore our marketing is conducted taking this factor into account. At the same time, our online catalogue only contains privately owned Danish holiday homes; this is also a great competitive advantage because Germans like to rent privately owned holiday homes”, says Anette Rasmussen.

Another feature that the company uses to differentiate itself is a user-friendly and clearly structured site. Rasmussen comments: “Our sales strategy in this respect is to make our site as simple as possible so that our customers can quickly find a suitable holiday home product. Thus, we also constantly develop and test new holiday home products targeted at different groups. The customer must be able to quickly decipher whether an accommodation is e.g. dog friendly, if the garden is fenced, if the house is ideal for a short stay or fishing holidays.”

Another important element of the site’s marketing concerns aspects of trust. A member of Trusted Shops, the company wants its customers to feel secure when making a rental booking: “It is a matter of trust to book through an online store, especially if you have never used the service provider before. We want to help our guests and are happy to demonstrate that they can feel safe shopping with us”, explains Anette Rasmussen.

In addition, we use our online profile to try to differentiate ourselves in comparison to other Danish holiday home rental companies. We aim to be optimally visible on Google and use many resources on both SEO and Adwords. In addition, we constantly examine and implement new sales channels at the same time as trying out new online media and following trends.

Multiple online channels

Ferienhaus Urlaub Dänemark is a part of Sol og Strand, a company that uses different sales and marketing channels and cooperates with various actors in the tourism industry and holiday home rental agencies involved in marketing Denmark in other markets. Having its online store as the primary sales and marketing channel, the company offers various API solutions associated with different partners. It is also possible to book holiday homes via e-mail or telephone using the customer support service. “What especially differentiates us from our competitors is that we do not have printed catalogues or magazines. We are exclusively an online rental store”, explains Mrs Rasmussen.

Customers should be able to book on any device

Although last year was predicted to experience a surge of bookings using mobile devices, the actual customer demand did not live up to expectations. However, Ferienhaus Urlaub Dänemark continues to focus on developing its platform to be accessible from any device: “In 2014 we will optimise our booking flow so that our customers are able to book our holiday homes on any device. In addition, our design is continuously optimised for viewing on mobile devices so that our guests can navigate freely and book and pay for their holiday home, no matter what platform they use”, confirms Anette Rasmussen. The company is also looking at integrating a payment option into its mobile booking flow; this would make it possible to pay directly through a mobile without having to use a credit card. Although this project is not planned to be launched in the immediate future, Anette Rasmussen believes it is very important to stay abreast of these kinds of trends: “We are aware that with the increased availability and use of smartphones and tablets, as well as the increased volume of customers who use these devices for online shopping, a greater demand for online payment solutions naturally arises. This could be integrated across all markets and mobile units. In order to avoid being overtaken by our competitors, we must therefore be proactive in constantly striving to keep abreast with developments”, concludes Mrs Rasmussen.

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