We try to anticipate visitors’ wishes, such as minimizing their personal travel times. In fact, everything revolves around the visitor.

Yves Vanderveken, Manager Hebbes.be

Mediahuis

Mediahuis is one of the leading media groups in Belgium and the Netherlands. More than 3,200 employees generate an annual turnover of 800 million euros. With news brands such as De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad/De Gentenaar, Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg, Mediahuis is responsible for the daily sales of approximately 516,000 newspapers in Belgium. In the Netherlands the group is active with the news brands De Limburger, NRC Handelsblad, nrc.next, De Telegraaf and Noordhollands Dagblad, with total daily sales of 1,215,000 newspapers. Mediahuis also operates a number of important classified ad platforms in Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Jobat, Jellow, Hebbes, Zimmo, Vroom, Gaspedaal and Groupdeal. As a publisher, Mediahuis is an unconditional supporter of independent journalism and strong, relevant media that make a positive contribution to people and society. Based on this vision the company continuously invests in its strong news brands, both in print and online.

Search criteria: travel time

Challenge

Real estate platform Hebbes offers more than 60,000 houses, apartments and parcels of land that are for sale or for rent in Belgium. Hebbes continuously seeks ways to make the search for a new home easier. A survey of visitors to the platform showed that in addition to the traditional criteria when choosing a house or apartment – such as the price and the number of bedrooms – travel time to the office, school, station or family are also considered important. In the search for a new home the consumer is often tied to those personal Points Of Interest (POIs). Yet a classic search engine only provides search results based on a postal code or a certain distance. In practice, however, it is not the number of kilometres but rather the actual travel times to and from home that have a major impact on work–life balance, and thus on the purchasing decision. Hebbes was therefore looking for a solution to include the travel time between a residence and the consumer’s personal POIs in the provided search results.

Combine search results with travel time

Solution

It soon became apparent that it would be more difficult than expected to find a good balance between the performance of the search engine – an important KPI for the platform – and the implementation of the feature that calculates the travel times. Hebbes found the ultimate solution in the Travel Time API. Via a user-friendly interface, Localyse provides the most relevant travel time data from Google Maps. Localyse, Google Maps Premier Partner in the Benelux, developed the tool that combines search results with travel times. The solution is based on what are called ‘isochrones’. Google Maps uses these to determine the area that lies within a certain travel time from a specified starting point.

Our client usually moves within a radius of 8 to 12 km. They are usually not yet aware of the impact on the travel time. This is why it is very relevant to include our customer’s real travel time in the visualization of search results.

Mark Vercammen, Project Manager

The solution allows the consumer to start a new type of search by defining various locations as personal POIs. The search engine then shows the matching search results, based on the travel times to the personal POIs – by car, bicycle or public transport. Of course the consumer can naturally also search for a suitable new property based on the classic criteria, such as postal code. With the inclusion of travel time, however, Hebbes has added an important new feature to the list of selection criteria. In practice, the consumer gains new insight when searching by travel time. Hebbes sees that users are making increasing use of the new search method and thus gaining a better picture of available opportunities in the owner-occupied or rental market.

New, unique view of homes

Advantages

Travel time and location are two important selection criteria for the consumer. For Hebbes, high scores in the areas of user-friendliness and fast rendering of the search results are the highest priority. Via the Localyse solution based on Google Maps, Hebbes now offers more relevant information in response to a search query, with no negative impact on the performance of the search engine.

  • The consumer gets a new, unique view of the properties that meet their search criteria within a certain zone, defined by the travel time. In this way Hebbes is better able to meet consumer needs, such as the desire to seek an optimum balance between work and leisure time.
  • The solution offers tangible added value to consumers while at the same time helping to address the mobility problem.
  • The new feature offers an additional sales argument to the seller or lessor of the real estate.
  • On the basis of the customer’s personal POIs, the estate agent can refine the most relevant search results based on the travel time to create a personalized selection of the most suitable properties.

Which Google Maps APIs are used?

Google Maps JavaScript API
Google Maps Directions API
Google Maps JS Street View API

Download this resource

Dimitri Arts

Business Developer

Want to know more about this use case?

Want more details about how our Travel Time API and Google Maps has helped Hebbes?

Please feel free to contact Dimitri Arts.

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