In September 2021, the travel reservation service “Yahoo! Travel” underwent a large-scale site renewal. Approximately 18,000 lodgings in Japan are posted, and it is attractive that it is easy to find by utilizing the search power of Yahoo!
Due to the influence of the new coronavirus, we are regaining the opportunity to enjoy travel again, which has been distant so far, and in addition, with the spread of new lifestyles such as telework and workation, the purpose and use of “finding accommodation” is becoming more diversified. .
Under such circumstances, we once again asked about the characteristics of the site and recommended points about “Yahoo! Travel”, which has evolved after about a year since its renewal. Mr. Genta Taira, who is the travel unit manager of Yahoo!
25 years of progress, not just comparison now
In the first place, “Yahoo! Travel” started in 1997. Among Yahoo, which has developed countless services, it was initially positioned as an aggregate site that collected travel information rather than a reservation site.
After that, we will increase the recognition as a “comparison site” while posting travel products provided by other companies. A new turning point in our memory was 2015 when Yahoo! At this time, the familiar “Yahoo Plan” was born. At the end of 2016, Yahoo made Ikyu a subsidiary. As a result of this, “Yahoo! Travel” began collaborating with “Ikyu.com,” which handles luxury hotels and inns, and it is said that the style of the current reservation site has become established.
In the site renewal in September 2021, we utilized the knowledge and know-how of “Ikyu.com”, which has a good reputation among users, to make it easier to search and transform the user interface into an easy-to-understand user interface. The current Yahoo! Travel can be used in the following ways.
You can search for accommodation and book online. In addition, you can use your PayPay balance at the time of reservation, earn PayPay points, and use it immediately.
Accommodation + air ticket
You can create your own original package tour by freely combining a wide range of accommodations and airline tickets. You can also use your PayPay balance and earn PayPay points at the time of reservation.
Accommodation reservation (Comparison between companies)
You can search while comparing plans from various companies such as Yahoo Plan, JTB Plan, Rurubu Travel Plan, and Official Site Plan. In addition, you can earn PayPay points when making reservations for each company’s plan, and use your PayPay balance when making reservations for the Yahoo plan.
Accommodation + Shinkansen
You can reserve a round-trip Shinkansen ticket and accommodation set plan.
Easy-to-use and pleasant “reservation experience” where you can find your favorite lodging
—Please tell us the story behind the renewal.
Mr. Taira:Even after the collaboration with Ikkyu started in 2016, basic services were provided separately. A few years later, when comparing Yahoo! Travel and Ikyu.com, it was the latter that received the most support from customers. For example, the percentage of 10 customers who make a reservation when using each site, and the difference in the repeat rate of those who make a reservation and then use it again. When I looked at them, it was clear that “Ikyu.com” actually got more support.
Since the late 1990s, “Ikyu.com” has been a single company in the field of travel reservations, so it excels in know-how cultivated over many years and the ability to grasp the needs of travelers. As a group, we decided that it would be better to make full use of this knowledge, and decided to follow the construction of “Ikyu.com” and renew it into a new “Yahoo! Travel” that incorporates its essence.
—I feel that users may get lost in the similar site structure, but what is the difference between “Yahoo! Travel” and “Ikkyu.com”?
Mr. Taira:It is true that the basic programming and foundation of the sites are the same, but there are actually many differences in details. The biggest difference is the hotel lineup. “Ikyu.com” only lists carefully selected luxury hotels and ryokans, but “Yahoo! Travel” lists all the accommodations from Hokkaido to Okinawa.
The search results are completely different depending on when the customer wants to book an inn. For example, if you narrow down your search to a certain area, only 20 hits will appear on “Ikyu.com”, but 100 hits will appear on “Yahoo! Travel”. For that reason, Yahoo! Travel has also been devised to make it easier to understand the differences and characteristics of inns, such as attaching catchphrases.
Even if there are common parts in the running programs, the customers who use them are different and their needs are different. By trial and error, we provide a “reservation experience” tailored to each site.
—How is it different from other sites?
Mr. Taira:In 2015, Yahoo! Travel started its own hotel business. Other travel agencies started online sales in the late 1990s and early 2000s, so they were quite latecomers in the industry.
Still, what makes it different from other companies is that it has many customers as Yahoo! Despite my position, I am now able to create better products. Although it is still a junior in the industry, Yahoo!
No matter when you book, it’s cheaper than anywhere else!Continuously develop advantageous campaigns
—What are the strengths of “Yahoo! Travel” while major companies such as “Rakuten Travel”, “Jalan”, and overseas companies are competing with each other?
Mr. Taira:There are two points to this. One point is that Ikyu.com is part of the Group, which we are grateful for. It means that you can “experience”.
For example, when searching for an inn on Yahoo! Travel, the search results are completely different for Mr. A, Mr. B, and Mr. C. The test results are different when searching with one person and when searching with three people. This is powered by personalized search. As a company, our top priority is to meet the needs of each and every customer.
The second point is that we are developing a large-scale campaign that has never been seen in the industry. From June to the end of August, we held a “Summer Trip Campaign” where you can save up to 10% on accommodation reservations. The biggest attraction is that “anyone can participate” instead of the usual campaign with specific membership conditions. What’s more, it was a great value campaign because you can choose to “use it now”, which discounts the acquired PayPay points from the travel price on the spot, or “save it as it is”.
We don’t know when we will be able to travel again, and many customers want to use their points on the spot. If you want to make a reservation at a good price anyway, we recommend Yahoo! Travel.
Since it is a for-profit company, of course it has to make a profit, but since we were able to renew it into a good site, I would like many customers to use it, even if it is just once. So, I want to help customers and hotels, even if it’s just a small amount. With that in mind, we plan to continue to develop sustainable and “better than anywhere else” campaigns.
Responding to ambiguous search needs with elaborate ingenuity
—How did you perceive and respond to the impact of Corona?
Mr. Taira:After all, two years ago, when the first state of emergency was declared, it was a difficult situation, as we couldn’t get any reservations, and of course there were cancellations. Therefore, I was the first to introduce the infection control and hygiene measures of each inn and deliver the information to the customers. Anyway, it is a device to make it possible to make a reservation with a little peace of mind at that time when I was afraid of corona.
After that, “Go To Travel” began. At that time, when the country was trying to boost the travel industry, we worked with all our strengths to make the most of it. Specifically, we immediately announced Go To Travel on the top pages of Yahoo! JAPAN and Yahoo! News, which are viewed by many customers.
It was an initiative that only we could do to communicate with the people to travel using Go To Travel and to boost the tourism industry.
—Yahoo has a variety of other services, but what are the prospects for mutual utilization?
Mr. Taira:We would like to actively create synergies by utilizing our own services such as Yahoo! MAP and Yahoo! Transit Information. For example, when you go to Kyoto on a business trip, you can find a good business hotel near the station and make a reservation right away if you look it up in the transfer guide. I would like to actively work on creating a reservation experience that such customers can feel comfortable with.
—As for platform, which one do you have more users, PC or smartphone?
Mr. Taira:Nowadays, more and more people use smartphones. Travel reservations are expensive purchases, such as 50,000 to 100,000 yen per transaction, so in general, many people tend to view them on large PC screens, but the number of smartphone users is still increasing. .
We are also trying to make it easy to see whether the inn is good or not, such as easy-to-read photos, easy-to-understand reviews, and smartphone screens. As a result of these efforts, the reaction of customers to smartphones has improved recently.
—Speaking of “Yahoo! Travel”, the ranking of various cuts is also substantial.
Mr. Taira:The rankings are too numerous to count. This means that there are a myriad of customer needs, but the main reason for introducing it is to recommend accommodation for “ambiguous accommodation needs”. Even with the old model, you could search for conditions, but it was more like “I want to go to a ryokan with delicious food,” “I want to stay at a beautiful hotel with an ocean view,” or “I want to know a recommended hot spring inn.” Needs are hard to match. With over 50,000 lodging facilities in Japan today, it’s a tough job trying to narrow down your search criteria and find the ideal lodging.
In that regard, Yahoo! Travel collects a lot of customer reservation data and word-of-mouth reviews from people who have actually stayed at the hotel. We also meet the needs of people who want to stay at an inn.
—Finally, please tell us about your future challenges.
Mr. Taira:Of course, there are still many points that I would like to improve in detail, but number one is that I want more people to use “Yahoo! Travel”. In fact, after the site was renewed, new customers began to grow significantly. The number of early adopters who use the site for the first time after noticing the advantageous campaign has begun to increase.
It was a happy trend for us that even if the position in the industry is junior, people who understand understand it. On the other hand, looking at the world as a whole, there are still few people who use Yahoo! Travel. The big challenge is getting more people to know about it.
Yahoo! Travel is a service that does not narrow down its territory and offers a wealth of lodging options all over Japan, targeting anyone. Some people use it for business trips, and some people use it for their families. Depending on the personalization, the accommodation that should be recommended is also different, so we will take care of it thoroughly.
—Thank you very much.