Thursday, January 19, 2006

Every Little Helps at Tesco

So supermarket giant Tesco is taking the next stage in its quest for consumer domination and diving headfirst into the world of telecommunications.

This is not just some half-baked foray into mobile phones or landline services – the UK’s biggest grocery chain has announced [read BBC report here] it will tap into online telephony via high-speed broadband services.

Tesco will probably base its own system on the Skype model, which enables computer users to chat online and tickled the fancy of online auction house Ebay so much last year that it splashed out £1.4bn on buying the company.

The supermarket’s latest move into the Voiceover IP arena (better known as the catchy phrase Voip) is an interesting one.

Travolution, in its launch edition in November 2005, suggested Tesco and other supermarkets, which are all dipping poking their fingers in many other pies, were relatively lukewarm about branching out into travel services [read “Time to check in or check out” here].

But there is no guarantee that the supermarkets will stay away from travel for ever.

There is a definite stretching of the boundaries between what an online travel company does for a living – Lastminute.com’s casino or diet pages, for example – and how other online businesses operate.

Some heavyweight industry figures have suggested privately that it is only a matter of time before successful and well resourced online companies in other areas – like Tesco – take another, serious look at travel.

Maybe it’s time to re-open the market size debate once more?

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

2 comments:

Operor said...

I think the opportunity for travel companies to embrace Voip is more of a story. The one remaining stigma for customers wanting to transact their holiday online has always been the fact they have a personal query, large or small, regarding their trip. With the integration of internet telephony into a travel website the customer can answer their query whilst online for free and then convert their booking at the same time.

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