Travolution Summit – the future of online travel

Apr. 22, 2009 | by Jeremy Head

We had a great day at the Travolution Summit in London yesterday. iCrossing was sponsoring the media centre and the front three rows of the room were packed with bloggers and online journalists from the Times, Sunday Times, Travel Weekly and Travolution jostling for space – both literal (what does a blogger have to do to find a spare plug socket for his laptop?) and virtual (how quickly can I post my insights on the Twitter feed?)

You can see some of the debate that took place on the feed now: hashtag/ travsummit

Here’s my far from exhaustive run down of interesting insights:

User Experience is the new marketing
Marko Ahtisaari the CEO of Dopplr said some extremely pertinent stuff. If there’s one element of travel websites that needs working on to achieve increased conversion at the moment – it’s UX. (With quality, unique content a close 2nd?)

No frills airlines are on the way out
The mother of all low Cost Carriers SouthWest airlines is suddenly pursuing a strategy of selling itself as a ‘services included’ carrier (Low fares… no hidden fees) to distinguish itself from its competitors!This is the most remarkable turn around in the airline industry ever! Will the low cost model be superceded as travellers tire of paying extra for just about everything? (God I hope so, but I doubt it)

It’s cool to be boring
UK and Ireland Lufthansa GM Marianne Sammann said that sometimes they are called ‘boring’ because Lufthansa just focuses on doing the basics as well as they can. (And they sure do that.) I wonder if boring is a good characteristic in the current climate? Forget funky stuff – focus on being dependable and trustworthy.

Holiday homes are ripe for a social space
US based holiday home rentals company HomeAway is growing – very fast. It’s adding 15- 20,000 new properties each month. According to CEO Brian Sharples they just intend to focus on the basics (see that same theme – focus on the simple stuff?). BUT there’s huge demand for people to exchange information and discuss online. Anyone fancy setting up a social space? Is there one already?

Facebook apps do work!
I don’t know the exact stats but it’s oft-quoted that of the many tens of thousands of apps on Facebook only a few have been downloaded by more than a handful of people. But get an app right and it can turbocharge your business. Trip Advisor’s restaurant reviews were paltry compared to their hotel reviews. Then they launched their Local Picks Facebook app. The app generated 10s of thousands of reviews in a matter months from people who wouldn’t usually visit the Trip Advisor site. It now provides more than 250,000 new pics of restaurants to the Trip Advisor site each month.

Just keep it simple!
This was another of Marko Ahtisaari’s mantras that I liked. As someone else on the panel for this session pointed out – the Online Travel Agencies growing fastest are those selling the simpler products (ie JUST hotels or JUST flights rather than the complete package). And that’s not surprising given how complex a product travel can be with all the bits and pieces associated with booking a holiday. But are people trying too hard to be all things to all people? Maybe we will see the emergence of smaller niche operators (or – more likely perhaps – niche brands created by bigger players) doing increasinglt good business by focussing on a specific audience and serving it really really well.

Here’s the official Travolution Summit Widget 

 

 

 

 

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    Comments (4)

    • Ian R Clayton

      re Facebook apps- yes they do work and now with http://arcresBookings.com for Facebook - your Facebook Fans can get immediate live quotes and help in planning holidays and trips. see it on FaceBook http://tr.im/FacebookDemo

      The application is powered by AXSES arcRes.com bookings and travel marketing suites. It allows Hotels and Tourism Operators to launch their information, inventory and bookings capability into Facebook. It also helps load GDS and many other channelsMay 26, 2009 05:43 pm

    • Arnaud

      About your post "Holiday homes are ripe for a social space": we are setting up the HouseTrip website which will work as a social network for short term rentals. The website release is in august but you can already check our blog!
      ArnaudApr 23, 2009 10:54 pm

    • Ifraz Mughal

      "User Experience is the new marketing"...love it!!


      Apr 23, 2009 03:12 pm

    • Topics about Flights » Blog Archive » Travolution Summit - the future of online travel

      [...] Connect - Digital Marketing Expertise from iCrossing added an interesting post today on Travolution Summit - the future of online travelHere’s a small readingWe had a great day at the Travolution Summit in London yesterday. iCrossing was sponsoring the media centre and the front three rows of the room were packed with bloggers and online journalists from the Times, Sunday Times, Travel Weekly and Travolution jostling for space - both literal (what does a blogger have to do to find a spare plug socket for his laptop?) and virtual (how quickly can I post my insights on the Twitter feed?) You can see some of the debate that took place on the feed no [...]Apr 22, 2009 03:29 pm

     
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