“International development is definitely our biggest challenge, and I love tackling the complications that arise as we look at new ways to engage with our customers.” — Vincent Thephithat, paid acquisition specialist
Restaurant booking platform LaFourchette offers users the ability to obtain a 20 percent discount at a range of popular restaurants across Europe.
Since the business was founded in 2006, it has experienced rapid growth. In 2014, it was acquired by the TripAdvisor group, which provided the catalyst for change and opened up a number of new business opportunities in less developed markets in Northern Europe.
“I started at LaFourchette as a trainee and have been amazed by how quickly the business has developed and evolved since,” said Christophe Sonladuangchanh, a paid media analyst at LaFourchette. “The business has definitely lived up to its motto for international development: as fast as possible.”
His reaction comes fresh off the back of LaFourchette scooping up the Advertiser of the Year award earlier this year in recognition of its rapid growth figures. Vincent Thephithat, a paid acquisition specialist, adds: “International development is definitely our biggest challenge, and I love tackling the complications that arise from this as we look at new ways to engage with our customers in new markets.”
Sonladuangchanh sees the business relationship with the Bing Ads team as imperative to support its ambitious growth plans. “Since we were acquired by TripAdvisor, we’ve been able to enter new progressive markets like Sweden and Turkey, and — through acquisitions — Portugal, the Netherlands and Italy.”
“The Bing team has enabled us to launch and manage multiple campaigns across all these regions, simultaneously. This has ensured we are able to capitalize on a number of customer engagement opportunities,” added Thephithat.
Attracting new customers, increasing bookings and retaining customers are the three core measurements for success for LaFourchette across its digital activity. Its search engine marketing (SEM) strategy is critical to sustaining high growth.
As a result, LaFourchette has decided to develop its strategy internally rather than developing an approach with an external agency. This approach means the business is able to manage all its campaigns from a single entry point and coordinate different strategies on different accounts simultaneously. This fully integrated approach naturally allows it to reproduce the most efficient strategies for all accounts far more effectively.
“SEM campaigns are the best reflection of LaFourchette’s online activity,” explains Thephithat. “They allow us to create dedicated campaigns for special events and key moments during the year, such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas when demand for restaurant bookings is inevitably higher.”
In addition to targeting key events in the calendar, LaFourchette increases spending heavily during “La quinzaine de Paname,” a two-week online event held in May each year. During this event, special discounts, which can be as high as 50 percent, are offered to customers. With help from Bing Ads, the business is able to effortlessly adapt and raise bids over this period.
“The Bing Ads platform enables us to be agile, highly responsive and accurate,” says Thephithat. “During the summer, for instance, when our urban customers leave the city, we can adapt our bids according to the places they stay and the particular restaurants they might be looking for during their visit.”
With the rise in the number of restaurant bookings being made on mobile, LaFourchette is increasingly looking at new ways it can bolster customer engagement and boost its client retention rate. At present, 50 percent of the company’s bookings are generated by mobile devices — a share that is expected to continue to rise in the months and years ahead.
The company uses Bing Ads App Extensions to increase both app downloads and restaurant bookings. Whilst this is a relatively new initiative for the business, Sonladuangchanh recognises it as a fundamental part of LaFourchette’s developing mobile story.
“App Extensions are a great way to gain visibility for our app and allow us to channel as many people as possible to the LaFourchette website through the ad,” Sonladuangchanh says.
With campaign spend on the rise, the relationship with Bing Ads has never been stronger. LaFourchette investments in SEM have increased from 5 percent in 2012 to 10 percent today on average for each country market. In France alone, spend increased more than 125 percent between the start of June 2015 and the end of May 2016.
Whilst the true impact on customer numbers resulting from this increased spend is hard to accurately determine due to the company’s recent acquisitions, the impact Bing Ads has had on LaFourchette since the partnership began in 2010 cannot be underestimated.
“The Bing Ads team provides me and Christophe with the support, reactivity and availability we need to optimise our campaigns, so they continue to meet and exceed our expectations,” explains Thephithat. “Part of launching into new markets relies on advice from the Bing Ads team.”
“The Bing Ads team provides us with market trends and the best strategies for each country,” adds Sonladuangchanh, “including specific metrics which help us identify new business opportunities.”
The cost per click (CPC) that LaFourchette sees with Bing Ads is currently 30 percent lower than CPCs with other leading search advertising platforms, and the return on ad spend (ROA) is 17 points higher.
In May 2016, the campaign for La quinzaine de Paname saw spend increase between 8 percent to 10 percent, which resulted in 20 to 25 percent more bookings from the Bing Network and a ROA increase of 9 points.
“Our partnership with Bing has been instrumental in helping us grow the business,” explains Sonladuangchanh. “By managing our campaigns from a single platform we are able to consolidate all our activity in one place. This not only makes it easier to implement campaigns quickly in response to emerging trends but adapt and plan far more effectively.”