“Google is both our first partner and our main competitor”
Firms must put up with an actor that is as cumbersome as it is indispensable. – By Geoffroy de Becdelièvre, founder of Marco Vasco.
When we launched Marco Vasco, all that mattered was growth. With personalized luxury travels sold on the internet, we had a huge opportunity ahead of us. Every year, we doubled our sales and we enjoyed our success without asking too many questions.
In 2014, our Google Adwords bill was raised by 60% in 3 months, and we became conscious of the limits of our dependence to Google (which was at the origin of 75% of our benefits). In parallel, Google launched services like Google Flight to book plane tickets, started buying firms which rented hotel rooms and thus became a direct competitor.
For us, a firm needed a solid basis, like a solid chair on four legs. Yet, we had become a solid stool but with only one leg called Google. If it broke, or if someone sawed it, everything would fall apart.
We realized it was hard to find an alternative to Google Adwords, which has no competitor in France. We had to integrate a new goal in our business strategy: diversify the business bringers.
Since we could not use a competitor, we stressed the clients’ loyalty establishment by getting back to them without being too intrusive, by offering them products that interest them. This process was even more successful than we hoped: Google’s share as an acquisition channel fell to 50% and we want to reduce it even more. That does not mean that we let go of Google, of course. Our dedicated algorithm analyses the one of Google and exploits Adwords to get the maximum profitability out of it. This expertise on listing and our tools are one of the great strengths of Marco Vasco.
Handle the diversificationOur diversification strategy is not only about the dependence to Google. We have arrived at a maturity threshold and no firm can hope to double its sales indefinitely. Our market niche, personalized travels for French-speaking people, weighs about 500 million euros and we get about 15% of it. In order to grow, we need to look elsewhere.
We first thought about a sort of luxury Airbnb but that involved very heavy logistics. On the Anglo-Saxon market, we are witnessing an uberization of the tour operator. No paid employees, but hundreds of freelance collaborators who canvass people for us. Appealing in theory, the idea does not really fit the expectations of our clients, who earn a good living but do not have any time and who ask for a very professional and “all inclusive” service.
For us, the future is about deepening the relation with the clients, that is to say a more thorough analysis of their expectations with artificial intelligence. But there are limits to the all-virtual: the contact between the client and the adviser remains very strong, and our clients’ loyalty establishment as well as the satisfaction of those who use our services cannot occur without a human factor.
Geoffroy de Becdelievre
Founder & CEO MarcoVasco.fr et Prestige-voyages.com
Globe-trotter depuis l’adolescence, Geoffroy aime les défis… Après quelques années chez KPMG comme auditeur, il prend un aller simple pour Shanghai où il part vivre 4 ans avec sa femme. Rentré en France en 2007, il lance avec succès ce qui est devenu le numéro 1 du voyage en ligne sur mesure Marco Vasco. Membre de Croissance Plus