Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An afternoon at ABTA Towers

Another coalface day – this time at the Association of British Travel Agents in London, where 60-odd independents and small to medium sized tour operators gathered to learn a bit more about online advertising.

Two specialists from the search marketing world – Lewis Lenssen from Accord Search Marketing and Arjo Ghosh of Spannerworks – spoke for 30 minutes each about paid-for and natural search respectively, as Travolution kept order.

All very tame and relaxed for the first hour or so. But as with many of these types of events the harsh reality of the online world only became apparent during the Q&A session.

A show of hands during my introductory speech revealed that perhaps a half had used a third party or had tried doing the complicated search marketing themselves to propel their companies up the search engine listings.

Good news perhaps for Lewis and Arjo, who would probably like to pick up a few leads for new business at an event like this.

But one delegate, who – judging by the reaction of many in the room – had a pretty good strategy for a new travel website, hit the nail on the head.

When Lewis revealed that the average monthly fee for a start-up campaign for paid-for listings might cost around £2,000, there was a noticeable shift in mood within the room.

“I simply can’t afford that,” the delegate said, triggering a collection of nods around the room.

The big players in travel can clearly fork out what amounts to thousands each month to ensure they are in the faces of internet users and their range of searches. For others it is an intimidating world.

Thankfully there are solutions to help natural search rankings, the panel suggested quickly: smart ones that use such rather less tangible methods, such as PR, to create interest in companies and naturally increase their search friendliness.

Another method is to use Blogs, Arjo proposed. Indeed the delegate with the soon-to-be-launched, “intriguing” proposal – we all agreed afterwards – for online travel was ripe for a Blog.

And right on cue: “Can you explain what a Blog is, please?” came a plea from back of the room.

Lewis and Arjo explained how Blogs can actually be used to create a community among consumers, triggering a new round of nodding in the room.

“I’m still not sure I know anyone who writes a Blog though,” Lewis suggested cheekily.

Thankfully Travolution Blogger was on hand to point the audience in the right direction.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd be delighted if you pointed them towards http://www.thisfrenchlife.com/ as an example of a blog connecting with people both looking to, and already living in, France.
Regards
Craig McGinty

Thomson Blogger said...

Kevin, feel free to point them to http://thomson.co.uk/blogs