Evolving a leading travel brand


We helped SACO put digital at the heart of their business and transform their online revenues.

The challenge: business transformation

Over 18 years SACO had become one of the travel industry’s leading serviced apartment providers, with an enviable portfolio of over 33,000 apartments worldwide.

But if they were to continue to succeed, they knew they needed to put digital at the heart of their business. Why? Because this would continue the process of repositioning their brand as a consumer proposition, improve customer satisfaction, shift revenue online, and ultimately future-proof their operating model. They didn’t have the skills or experience to do so themselves. So they asked us to help.

There was a lot at stake, but also a lot of opportunity. Meeting SACO’s business objectives would start to transform their organisation from a single channel to a multichannel business. The project carried significant risk, and it couldn’t afford to fail.

The team at cx helped us create clear, concise customer journeys for the new SACO website. Without them, we wouldn’t be seeing the results we are today.
Craig Neilson, Head of Digital, Saco

The journey: talk to me

Given the stakes involved, and the fact that the changes we were tasked with making would fundamentally affect the brand, we had to get to know the business inside out. That meant taking a People First approach from both a customer and insider viewpoint.

We began with a ‘deep dive’ discovery phase, identifying the commercial, political and business realities of service design and delivery at SACO. This knowledge allowed us to work through complex issues with confidence when mapping out the new business structure and digital strategy with the project team.

It also allowed us to streamline the design process by taking advantage of the insights we’d already accumulated. From there we moved rapidly to an iterative design approach: developing concepts, testing with customers, and then refining.

A 'deep dive' discovery phase
A collaborative approach to planning

The Insight: Stop, something’s not right!

The value of the iterative approach was evident throughout the project.

For example, we discovered that the imagery being used to represent business customers was not proving as engaging as we would have liked.

If the experience was to resonate in the human, natural manner needed, we had to re-evaluate this part of the brand aesthetic. So we introduced a suite of warm, engaging photography as a key focus of the identity. Subsequent user testing showed this to be extremely effective.

It was exactly these kinds of insights that allowed us to diffuse the risks inherent in such a major, transformational project as we already understood how people would respond before we launched.

The solution: a redefined brand and business

The solution we went on to deliver was a repositioned brand, brought to customers via a new digital platform (in the form of a website) that was a key component in a new way of doing business.

The website looked and felt like an attractive consumer proposition – on any device – but for the business customers who could easily log in and manage their accounts it felt thoroughly and engagingly business-like. The fact that B2B customers used the same mechanism as B2C customers merely showed that this was a seamless, forward-thinking, efficient hub – and something the business could rally around as it headed in a new direction.

Detail of the user interface design for the new SACO website.

We didn’t only work with SACO in shaping the strategy and designing the digital platform. We also collaborated with SACO’s tech agency to bring the website to market, and set up KPIs to measure ongoing performance. And we worked with SACO to reshape their internal processes so they were in a position to fulfil the service objectives defined during the project.

Every part of our work was guided by insights from people within the business and the customers of their services. That’s reflected in a 50% rise in online apartment bookings, with that figure rising every day.

Key outcomes

66% rise in conversions in the 6 months since launch
Approx 40% overall increase in website-related revenue
50% rise in online apartment bookings
Live chat revenue driven by website engagement has increased by 100%
A studio portrait photograph of Mark Hicks.

Speak to us

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