I spoke at the Gilbane Conference on Content Management Technologies on a panel called Using Content Management Technology to Increase Revenue. The panel was expertly moderated by Scott Abel, Content Management Strategist and producer of The Content Wrangler. I kicked off with an overview of Web site content best practices and examples of great sites from my book Cashing in with Content.
A particularly fascinating panelist was Brad Rosenthal, Director of Internet Strategy for Thrifty Car Rental. Brad walked us through how "The Internet has been a great equalizer for Thrifty Car Rental." I was particularly excited that he provided detailed statistics for his site. Thrifty is the number eight (#8) ranked car rental company in the US which means that they need to work smarter online than the bigger guys.
In 2002 the site had (only) 100 pages of content. In 2002, 12% of reservations came through Thrifty.com and the site had a 6% conversion rate.
In December 2005, according to Rosenthal, 42% of reservations are placed through Thrifty.com, with another 20% coming from other online sites such as Expedia.com and Orbitz.com. The Thrifty site now has 10,000 pages and an 8.5% conversion rate. So that means that more than 60% of Thrifty reservations are booked online compared to 12% only three years ago. Rosenthal says that 1.8 million reservations are placed on the site per year.
The Thrifty.com site uses a content management system (CMS) from Percussion Software to localize content for visitors based on the click stream that is used. For example, if people are looking for a car in Seattle, then deals for Seattle are surfaced. The CMS system allows the over 150 people at Thrifty who are able to add content to enter it once into the system and then have it appear on the site in many places. Rosenthal says that the company manages content as an asset. Interestingly, Rosenthal says: "A consumer shops on average five times online before making a reservation," making the localized content and "Great Deals" content offered on Thrifty.com important for conversion rates.