Archive for July, 2007

User generated comments: Travel brands most at risk

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Travel |

as this study by Tamar, a UK based interactive agency shows. The stakes are certainly high, especially for suppliers. It’s not surprising that consumers should react this way, after all a travel purchase is often a higher expense and more importantly the product can’t be tried before consumption, unlike a TV, camera or DVD player. If you read a negative review of those, you can always visit a local store and get a first hand opinion and try the product out. Not possible with your one week hotel stay. All the more reason to get involved in the conversation about you in the marketplace.

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8 out of 10 US Shoppers Put More Trust in Brands that Offer Customer Reviews

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Web2.0 |

reads the headline of this opinion poll conducted by Bazaarvoice and Vizu Corp.

While this particular survey comes from the online shopping world, I would venture a guess  that very similar results would be shown in the travel industry.

It’s one more important indicator of the importance and influence of what your customers are saying about your product or service on future buying decisions.

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Study shows tourists increasingly want feel-good experiences

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Tourism |

Travelmole. reports based on a Forbes Travelers list of the 30 Most Visited U.S. cities. It notes that Charlotte ranks higher than Fort Lauderdale.

The fact that visitors decide a destination based on how it makes – or might make – them feel and that image plays a role is certainly not new. This has been the case for the last 25 years or more. Studies we conducted for Switzerland back in the 1980s supported this.

With the easy accessibility to information from a wide variety of sources, especially other visitors, it is much easier today to envisage oneself in a certain place and how great it might feel than it was in the old days of print brochures.

This should be good news for those destinations that don’t have a landmark like a Grand Canyon, a Golden Gate Bridge, a Statue of Liberty to attract visitors. Charlotte is a case in point and I personally take it over Fort Lauderdale anytime!

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Destinations and the benefits of blogging

Posted on July 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

is the title of a post on Jens’ Tourism INTERNET Marketing Blog.

It touches on a key issue facing DMOs today, the fast growth of user generated content, social networking, mashups and other web 2.0 tools in travel. This makes it even more urgent for these organizations to review their long established marketing strategies. When looking across the global DMO website landscape it is evident that most are still very much in a web 1.0 mode, and I would guess, consider their website just one more communication channel in their overall marketing arsenal.

That will no longer do. For quite some time now, I’ve expressed the opinion, that the web needs to be at the very core of a DMO strategy and the rest of their marketing flows outward from there. This will also have an effect on the organizations personnel structure. Not only will this very likely result in the discovery of new funds that can be invested in web based activities, which is an important aspect, but it will also put the presence of their destination right where today’s travelers are looking for it – the web.

Like traditional media companies, especially newspapers, DMOs are in the firing line and those who don’t adapt quickly will be threatened like never before.

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Virgin America Will Reinvent US Air Travel With (Social) Media and More

Posted on July 30, 2007. Filed under: Travel |

as Digital Media Wire reports.

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This goes way beyond TV sets in the seat back. It will be interesting to observe how the rather staid competition reacts to this latest Richard Branson brainchild.

Who knows, it might actually improve the quality of domestic air travel. Now, wouldn’t that be a welcome result!

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What customer research won’t tell you!

Posted on July 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here’s a quote from an interview in today’s Wall Street Journal with Steve Ridgway, CEO of Virgin Atlantic:

We also have confidence about doing things that consumers probably wouldn’t recognize they would want until they see it. We obviously do research, but often we have gone to consumer groups with ideas that have bombed, and we’ve just gone ahead and done them anyway, and people have said, “Wow — this is great.”

The most famous example was our Club Houses [Upper Class lounges] — they go way beyond what other airlines do with their lounges. When we did the first one back in the early ’90s, we went to consumer groups with a whole plethora of features and options, and most of them, they couldn’t get their heads around.

They wanted somewhere that was quiet, somewhere they could get a snack, and somewhere they could make phone calls. When we said to them, “Would you like to have your hair cut or your shoes shined?” They said, “We don’t want any of that.” We put it all in there anyway, and they all went, “Oh, wow — this is great.”

It confirms an opinion I’ve long held about what’s happening in the online travel industry. Today all major travel websites offer in principle the same way of buying travel components and combinations thereof that they did at the start of their businesses, with few compelling innovations.

This has led to the situation that the entire market is purely price driven and running the risk of total commoditization. When asked about innovation such as multi-destination, multi-component dynamic packaging for the response is often that the customers are not asking for that. That might be true, but most online travel shoppers wouldn’t be able to describe how that would work, so they will not ask for it. It’s the same case as Ridgway describes above. The market players will have to introduce it and the leader in pulling this off, will be a winner.

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Looking before Booking

Posted on July 27, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

is the title of the Insight July 2007 issue of a newsletter published by the YPartnership. It covers results from the 2007 National Travel Monitor™ ≈

Of course, the fact that with 90%  the number one desired travel website feature is “being able to check the lowest fares/rates” is no longer a surprise but, to me, at least,  this is just one more indicator of the dire straits online travel intermediaries are facing in such a scenario.

With this extreme price focus, no one relying on a commission or a fee for the sale of a travel component can profitably stay in business. It’s a continuing downward spiral, not the least because many suppliers of these services have by now established themselves as the direct provider of choice for online bookings.

According to this study, even the addition of some new features on intermediary website will not be enough to generate customer loyalty. So, what’s left? 

One alternative is to generate advertising revenue, but that only works for the top sites with strong brand recognition and wide reach to generating huge traffic. The second, and in my opinion next logical one, is the online sale of complex multiple destinations travel products to independent travelers. This kind of upscale travel is the last segment to truly move online. It will require sizable investments in new technology and a web user interface that is truly customer focused and super easy to use. The combination of low price with some of the now lower ranked additional features will then become important differentiators.

Otherwise, a future headline might well read – Looking, looking, gone…..!

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The World of the Internet

Posted on July 27, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

is a very informative and also surprising map showing internet usage figures across the globe.
When we consider some of the participation rates it seems evident that future growth is a reality, especially in countries like China and India.

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Web 2.0 is definitely mainstream

Posted on July 26, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

as this chart from a new Hitwise report shows.

according to the article, the amount of user content available is staggering. Wikipedia has surpassed five million entries. YouTube announced that it had served over 100 million video clips per day.

While the actual participatory visits to these websites are still lower compared to the overall visitors numbers, the share of U.S. visits to the top 20 participatory websites has grown from 3% of all U.S. internet visits in June 2005 to 15.5% in June 2007, a growth rate of 416%. Again there is no breakdown between uploading user content visits versus viewing visits, however, the trend line clearly confirms the rapid adoption.

With travel being one of the favored activities it would not surprise, if a significant share of this traffic is at least travel related. The growth in new travel start-ups using the social networking and user generated content model seems to bear this out.

The full report can be obtained at Hitwise

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Keen vs. Weinberger: The Plot (by Amateurs) Against America

Posted on July 19, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here’s a follow-up to my previous post.

I had to add this comment by John Biggs of CrunchGear as I can only wish I was able to write in as witty a style as he does and oh, yeah as a bonus he also throws in a punch at Murdoch!

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Why is this man smiling?

I was on my way to the outhouse with some print-outs of the WSJ opinion page — the newsprint version is too harsh — when I noticed an interview between Andrew Keen, writer of The Cult of the Amateur, and David Weinberger, author of Everything is Miscellaneous.

Mr. Keen’s argument runs in the cranky old man watching Elvis on Ed Sullivan vein. He believes blogging and all this Web 2.0 razamatazz is a bunch of Commie hoo-ha and in his day you used to have to go to the library to look up the long-winded ramblings of an accredited critic, scientist, or guy-who-writes-encylopediast to get information on a topic, not some hoopty-doopty hippity hoppity kid out in Kansas with a keyboard and some moxie, by gum, whose only interests include letting dogs pee on Mr. Keen’s lawn and preventing him from getting a good night’s sleep thanks to all the Web 2.0 bordello parties they’re having down the street. Mr. Weinberger thinks Web 2.0 is cool.

Watch the sparks fly as these two UFC-certified intellectuals spar on Murdoch’s future dumping ground. Roar!

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