Q&A with Pia Vemmelund, Managing Director of momondo

The travel search site Momondo already operates in 35 markets worldwide and with their internal resources growing rapidly they are optimistic about their prospects for the future. Managing Director Pia Vemmelund has passed on some insights into their strategy, as well as her perspective on digitalization in the industry.

Nordic Business Report: What is Momondo’s positioning and competitive advantage?
Pia Vemmelund: We’ve been focusing on becoming a global player. We see consolidation is taking place in the industry and it becomes harder to only be a local player. Critically our core product is strong (that is finding cheap flights and cheap hotels). However, at the same time we put a lot of energy into inspiring people, into creating inspirational tools, such as Trip Finder. We also have a city guide app called Places where you can search based on your mood. Another strength of ours is taking data and turning it into useful information such as the feature Flight Insight. We were the first to launch route specific flight variability information, showing you how likely it is for the price to go up the closer you get to departure. In general, though, it’s the playful way we present data that adds to the user experience.

NBR: What are the biggest shifts you’ve noticed in online travel?
PV: For all digital industries, the speed is just amazing. Technology changes all the time, giving you new opportunities to turn your creativity and innovation into useful insights for users. Like many companies, our revenue is higher for the website than it is for mobile. However, a lot of users touch upon our app during their customer journey, which is why we have decided to improve our app product. When we say we want to be the best, it has to be across all platforms. From a user perspective, you use all different devices depending on where you are and what situation you’re in.

NBR: How has Momondo transitioned to mobile since you’ve been with them?
PV: We have seen an increase in app usage of 89 % year over year in Q1, with more people actually finishing their booking on mobile. After a lengthy internal discussion, it was pretty clear that we wanted flights and hotels in the same app. It’s easier for us to promote one app towards the end-user. Our recently launched version of the iOS app improves navigation, making it seamless. Today, there’s less friction due to mobile optimized sites from all online travel agencies, which was  not the case a year or two ago. Places is a separate app but that’s because it’s a more inspirational  tool. With more people looking for where to go than searching for specific destinations, this is a growth market we want to inspire and take part of in the future.

NBR: How difficult is it to convert big data into revenue?
PV: I think we all agree that the more personalized we can make a product; the more the relevant data we present to the user, the more likely they are to convert. So, we try to make it as personalized as possible. The consequence is it requires you to be capable of handling data in different ways. Login is one thing that helps us a lot. Knowing people’s preferences and search history is one of the areas where we can really see it having an impact.

NBR: In the industry, are there any underlying ideas or concepts that are being underutilized/undervalued?
PV: That’s a tough question. Again, I think it has very much to do with mobile. There must be a reason why people change their mobile device and go to the website to actually end their transactions. There must be ways we can improve the process and make it easier to make the booking. Some of our competitors are doing what we call ‘assisted booking’. I would like us to find a way to take friction out of mobile use, but it’s difficult as meta-search is reliant on its partners. How do you find a setup where thousands of partners all agree a way that makes the process smooth? From a user perspective, that would create the greatest benefit.

NBR: Can you tell us more about your branding?
PV: From the start, we decided that product and brand were really important. However, you have to have something that drives you. We truly believe that traveling helps open up the world. We know there’s a clear correlation between trust in other people and traveling. A clear vision; a clear purpose makes it easier to mold a team for the product you want to build. Be clear on where you want to be the best, and when your product is the best there will always be a demand for it.


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