Routehappy has expanded its C-Suite with the addition of a chief marketing officer and hired ecommerce specialist Olivia Mark for the role.
This is her first role in travel, though she is an avid traveller, including an extended round-the-world trip in 2008 and 2009.
She has a BA in Economics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and University de Paris IV accreditation from the Sorbonne.
Her resume includes leading ecommerce disruptors including, most recently, as general manager of wine and ecommerce meal-kit digital leader Blue Apron.
While there, she drove the company’s expansion into a multi-category business, including by growing a California-based winery into one of the largest wine clubs in the US in less than two years.
Mark was previously employed at amazon.com where she held several roles in merchandising and international expansion for the company’s Quidsi subsidiary. Her ecommerce experience also includes roles at Gilt Groupe, and with LVMH eLuxury, helping bring the company’s luxury brands online.
Robert Albert, CEO of Routehappy says of the selection of Mark as the company’s first CMO:
“Flight shopping is being reborn with differentiation, and who better to help our industry’s transformation than a seasoned retail merchandising professional. Olivia has deep understanding of customer behaviour in shopping, spanning merchandising strategy, creative formulation, campaign execution and measurement. Her experience from outside the flight shopping industry will be invaluable as we adopt e-commerce best practices to improve business results for our customers.”
Tnooz spoke with Mark to get her views on the ecommerce opportunities available for travel brands and thoughts on the future of brick and mortar retail.
She explains that she plans to blend her consumer-retail experience with her own personal insights as a frequent flyer to help airlines make the most of the merchandising opportunities made possible by Routehappy’s Universal Product Attribute (UPA) and Routehappy Hub.
On taking the role at Routehappy...
Mark describes herself as a very passionate traveller and the joke was always that her next job would be in travel because she enjoyed booking flights so much.
"When I first heard about what Routehappy was doing it just seemed like a great fit. I've been lucky having worked in food and in wine and adding travel to that is a great next step.
"What really struck me, as an avid traveller, is that I'm shopping for flights all of the time and I'm shopping online for products all the time. As a standard, I can't imagine knowing so little about a product [as is the case in flight bookings]. I always know whether something is going to be comfortable, is the quality good, what's the fit likely going to be—and that's for a twenty dollar purchase online.
"On the flip-side, when I buy an airline ticket I will often have experiences where I spend $500 and I don't know what the experience is going to be like until I'm actually sitting on the airplane, and by that point you can't do anything. Routehappy is really on this mission to bring merchandising best practices to the airline industry and allow customers to make decisions based on the amenities available.
On making the business case for better airline merchandising...
She describes the heart of merchandising as putting "the right products in front of the right people."
"It's the same for the airline industry. Where we are in the UPA-based distribution process, there's always ways to continue to differentiate the experience and target more features to the customers.
"I think about myself, I have two small children, and what I need on an airplane flight is totally different travelling with them than if I'm travelling by myself for work.
My team will be working very close to business development to make the case to additional groups for conversion improvement with better merchandising of products. I think the business case is very clear."
On trends governing ecommerce, which might also influence travel...
Mark sees the strongest ecommerce players as the ones who put customers first and create segmented, tailored experiences for their customers.
"Especially, in the fashion space, you personal shopping so really have to make product for a specific group of people. There’s also the hybrid approach to ecommerce.
"Everyone is realizing that it's never going to be 100% ecommerce, but it won't be full brick and mortar either. I think the hybrid approach that some [consumer] brands take has been very interesting in the past few years."
On brick and mortar and what developments like the recent announcement of the new “corner-shop” startup, Bodega, mean to the future of personal relationships between retailers and consumers...
She can see the "potential loss of the type of interaction" that people have with the corner shop owner that they see every morning.
"But I also think that e-commerce companies are creating new ways of interacting.
"Whether that is community managers, and engagement tactics with the community, or that you're interacting with a delivery person rather than the shopkeeper in the corner. It's not doing away with social interactions, it's replacing them with new ones."
On the main goal now that you are transferring consumer ecommerce insights to the travel industry...
She believes customer research to gain customer insight and make the best decisions is paramount.
"Ultimately, if the airlines have happy customers the customers keep coming back."