Global travel booking company Launchtrip uses event data to identify valuable events
In today’s data-driven travel industry, everyone knows events drive demand. But few understand this better than Launchtrip, a rapidly growing startup that enables travelers to effortlessly book group travel for events they’re excited about.
They provide a seamless journey from intention to booking for travelers, creating an influx of bookings for their accommodation partners. Because Launchtrip’s offering is all about making the complex world of travel simple and satisfying, they are obsessed with creating a top-notch user experience powered by top-tier event data.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and serving a global market, the company kicked off a pilot program in 2021 to test providing customized accommodation options to travelers planning for events. The goal was to identify how much events drove demand, and if providing accommodation options specifically inspired by events would work.
Uncovering what drives travel demand
Launchtrip Product Manager Kat Bykova explains the problem they were solving: “When you book an event, you’re not told these are the best hotels for your trip: here’s how to get to the venue the fastest, the hotels in your area, and the kind of activities that you can do around the event that you're attending. That’s where Launchtrip realized we could step in and really elevate our users’ experience.”
Working directly with event organizers and sourcing events such as music festivals, sports tournaments and conferences manually, the team were thrilled with the results. Consumers would move smoothly through the app, booking their accommodation with one of Launchtrip’s partners. They decided to make it a major feature of their app. But how would this scale? This would require a lot more events making this an unachievable task to continue to do manually.
For example, in Launchtrip’s home city of Vancouver, there are 242 events in June 2022, with 11 of them being major events. Even if the team could identify all of these manually, that’s just one market with other impactful events out there such as:
17 major events in Montreal in June 2022
11 major events in New York City in June 2022
39 major events in Chicago in June 2022
22 major events in London in June 2022
12 major events in Paris in June 2022
Launchtrip uses Predicted Attendance and Impact Rankings to find the most valuable events
“Sourcing events manually does not work. I was spending literally eight hours a day, five days a week, trying to aggregate all this information by hand. At one point we had four or five people within the company spending around three hours a day helping to locate the data and enter it on a spreadsheet. Everyone from engineers up to our CEO were pitching in,” Bykova says.
This was a crucial feature that made their offering, making it a necessity to figure out. The team would enter event titles, dates, locations as well as indicative attendee totals (often based on venue capacity or news articles) into a spreadsheet. Because they were using multiple ticketing sites to try to get the coverage needed, they had one spreadsheet per platform, often with significantly different information on the same event.
While it was clear to the team a manual solution would not scale, they were reluctant to invest in a partnership with a ticketing API due to the inconsistencies and gaps in the data they were working with every day.
“Just when I would think we’ve made good progress on a city’s events, we’d find different details listed on another site. It was driving me crazy,” Bykova says.
Post pandemic, with events returning at different paces per market and frequently with wildly different attendance levels than their earlier iterations, the team knew they needed to find a solution fast. Suddenly their target accommodation partners realized how impactful events could provide certainty in their planning, and every travel company was looking to recover as fast as possible. Luckily, a consultant group Launchtrip was working with mentioned PredictHQ.
Verified, intelligent event data at scale
Being able to access data on all the events they needed and knowing every detail was verified was a huge relief to Bykova and team.
“After we integrated PredictHQ, we saved 90% or more of our time working with events to find the right details and identify high quality events. We were a little bit worried at first about whether or not PredictHQ would actually be able to differentiate event quality [i.e. which events would have the most impact]. We had our hypotheses from our pilot program, so it was a relief to see PredictHQ align with those. With the rankings and predicted attendance features, we could stop worrying about the event data and focus on promoting the right events to our end users and selling the right event partnerships to our accommodation partners.”
PredictHQ’s systems aggregates events from hundreds of sources, and verifies each key detail. Its models then provide an accurate predicted attendance as well as a series of impact rankings, from a general rank to how impactful it will be locally to Aviation Rank, which identifies how many airline tickets will be booked for the event. Launchtrip set up thresholds for event predicted attendance and general rank to quickly filter out low impact events, and Aviation Rank to know which events would drive a lot of inbound traffic.
“PredictHQ has alleviated the burden of spending hundreds, if not thousands of hours on sourcing events and trying to make sense out of them. Even outside of the product team, we have team members ranging from marketing to sales who have all really benefited from the data,” Bykova says.
“There are a lot of different views on the immediate future of travel, but for sure, people are trying to make the most out of their trips. People are going to try to make their trips really special and memorable, because it’s been so long and we’re still not sure what the future of the pandemic holds,” Bykova says.
Not only did integrating PredictHQ’s data increase the volume and quality of events, the ability to stop wasting time googling for events enabled Launchtrip to add new functionality to their app such as the ability to search by city, as well as by event. Most users search for a specific event and then book their accommodation, but as excited travelers plan what else to do on their journey, Launchtrip wants to ensure they can help them have their best possible trip, to drive customer loyalty and delight.
Maximum value and collaboration
For Bykova and the Launchtrip team, being able to extract maximum value from their investment in external data was key. Not only did the company feel confident they had the breadth and depth of travel-driving events, it also meant their team could focus on building a world-class travel experience app and massive network of accommodation providers, rather than checking every major event they could find across four different ticketing providers, often each with slightly different information.
“When we decided to use PredictHQ to power our event search, we were a pre-seed stage startup and about to launch our beta app. So this meant that we had to be really, really wise with our spending. Of course the main concern for us that we had to kind of convince the rest of the team on was if this was going to be a good investment, or whether the manual labor actually ends up being cheaper and still gets us most of the way there,” Bykova says.
By using PredictHQ’s data, the Launchtrip team has been able to cut down time spent on sourcing, editing, managing and researching events from ~35 hours a week down to ~2-3 hours. That’s a 91% decrease in time spent – or stated differently, that’s a lot of time saved that the team can now use in more high impact ways.
Launchtrip currently uses PredictHQ’s data across 12 cities in Canada and the US, with plans to extend this more broadly as their user-based, accommodation network and team grows.
“One thing I must add as a tip for people who are integrating PredictHQ is that if there is a feature that you really want to see, just reach out to the team. They really do value that customer feedback and they are always looking to improve the product, which has been really great. We’re really looking forward to growing with them.”