Rakuten Group, founded by Hiroshi Mikitani in 1997, is the largest and possibly the most reliable internet shopping mall in Japan. It has around 40 businesses and services like Online Retail, Securities, Travel, Professional Sports and Entertainment. The travel wing of Rakuten provides hotels, cars and other forms of travel solutions to its customers.
Takanobu Yamamoto, the Executive Officer of Travel Business Rakuten, attended WIT Singapore 2015 – the leading B2B conference of travel and technology sector. Like other speakers, Takanobu shared his experiences and insights about the company’s services and travel industry.
Rakuten Travel offers 29,845 hotels within Japan and 15,425 hotels outside the country on its platform. They work closely with these hotels to understand the uniqueness of each property. After careful observation, they display the best features of the hotels on their website. For every hotel booking, the customers earn points which they can use to purchase small but essential items. 56 million room nights were booked from October 2014 to September 2015. Rakuten Group received a revenue of USD 56 billion in 2015 of which travel is about 10% of the group’s revenue. Through their analytical tools, they have realized that the conversion ratio of women smartphone users is higher than the male counterpart.
Takanobu Yamamoto stated that Rakuten Travel is not just a transactional platform but a matching platform too. It connects the travellers and hotels providing the best fit between the two. Elaborating on the same, Takanobu Yamamoto quoted:
“We’ve transitioned from a transaction platform to a matching platform. We tell users we can find the best hotel for them, for their unique personality, and tell hotels that we can find hotels the best fit users.”
Rakuten Travel even has ‘internet travel consultants’ who support customers and reduces the amount of mismatch on a regular basis. Successful matching creates higher customer satisfaction and results in better hotel reviews. Satisfied customers who have rated this travel service above 3.0 have 30% higher repeat rate than those who have rated it below 2.0.
Like AliTrip, Rakuten Travel has a huge database. It uses this chunk of data to understand customer behaviour for achieving more profits. Takanobu Yamamoto revealed that the brand is achieving just 20% to 40% of its potential profits. The enormous data alone can help this travel business to grow to a great extent.
Rakuten Group, often called as ‘the Alibaba of Japan’, has focused on establishing solid brand power in Japan in the last few years. It has already laid a strong base to build a truly global company. How does it perform in the years to come, especially at an international level, is yet to be seen.
For more updates from WIT Singapore 2015 and other events held during TravelRave, click here.