Boxing clever with travel Big Data

An Irish start-up firm is eyeing global airline and travel markets for its predictive marketing software, writes Trish Dromey.

Boxing clever with travel Big Data

WITH predictive marketing software designed to help airline and travel companies boost sales, Dublin start-up Boxever is getting ready to take on the world.

Back in 2011, it developed a solution for travel companies which made use of big data and customer information to generate individual offers and marketing messages for customers when they are booking a flight online.

Four years on, the company has a staff of 50 and more than 15 customers including Air New Zealand, Ryanair, eDreams ODIGEO, and Singapore airline Tigerair. This year it signed its first US customer, InterRail.

“We are currently closing deals with a number of global airlines including one in the US,” says Boxever chief executive and co-founder Dave O’Flanagan.

Nominated in the emerging category in this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the company is aiming to triple its customer base this year.

According to its website, Boxever now analyses billions of individual shopping purchase and support interactions daily.

Making effective use of the data provided and prior booking patterns as well as information about the customers, found on social networks, Mr O’Flanagan says the Boxever solution can help airlines and travel companies “increase sales, improve conversion rates, and create better customer experiences.”

Prior to setting up Boxever, Mr O’Flanagan and fellow co-founders Alan Giles (the firm’s chief technical officer) and Dermot O’Connor (vice president of engineering), worked on an e-commerce platform for travel retail provider Datalex.

Seeing an opportunity to create a product that would use big data and customer analytics to boost sales for customers in the airline industry, they set up Boxever in November 2011.

While many online retailers, such as Amazon, were quick to adopt predictive marketing, Mr O’Flanagan says the airlines were slower to move in this direction, possibly because prior to the growth in online ticket sales in recent years, airlines had not sold directly to customers at all.

Launching the solution in 2012, the company was identified as a high potential start-up and raised €800,000 from Delta Partners, Bloom Equity, and Enterprise Ireland.

Nordic airline Atlantic Airways and Scandinavian regional airline Wideroe were Boxever’s first customers, in 2012.

During the following year the company worked on building its product and convincing airlines that they could gain a competitive edge by using customer data to create personalised marketing messages.

By 2014, predictive marketing was gaining acceptance in the industry and Boxever’s growth rate began to accelerate rapidly.

In March it secured $6m (€5.32m) in funding from US venture capital group Polaris Partners and simultaneously announced the signing of Asia Pacific airline Tigerair.

In July, it moved from Dogpatch Labs to a larger premises in Tara St to accommodate a workforce which had swelled from 17 in 2013, to more than 30.

In summer 2014, the company also established an office in Boston and began actively targeting airlines and online travel companies in the US. In the final months of the year, Boxever landed contracts with Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, as well as eDreams Odigeo —one of the world’s largest online travel companies — and Air New Zealand.

Customers signed this year include Travelplanet 24/Tripsta, online travel agencies in south eastern Europe, and US company InterRail, a specialist in train travel in Europe.

Mr O’Flanagan says one of Boxever’s key selling points is that it is the only company which focuses solely on the travel and airline market to provide a readymade predictive marketing solution.

He believes this gives it an edge on larger companies which can offer to develop customised products, and says that having first mover advantage will stand Boxever in good stead in the future. “Now we are planning to grow the team and make a small number of key appointments.

“By the end of this year we will have tripled our customer base with the addition of a number of global airlines. Next year we plan to triple revenue and grow the customer base further.”

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