Thursday, March 02, 2006

And the new black is...

The Gregorian calendar isn’t creative enough to give us specific themes – which is a bit of a shame.

Apart from providing a quirky 28 days in February, which is ironically the only true lunar month, the modern calendar gives us only a simple “year” based on a collection of four digits that increase by one every 365 days. Pretty dull.

Thankfully we have the Chinese to spice things up, who are now celebrating the year of the dog.

It is therefore inevitably up to business folk and other commentators to boldly declare what is the particular theme for the year.

Some are pretty obvious: 2006 could be the “Year of the Cameron”, for example, if you are a long-suffering Tory voter looking for a bit of inspiration.

But others are inevitably driven by a need to add a bit of puff to a product launch, such as “2006, the Year of the HDTV [High Definition Television]”.

In travel it is arguably more difficult to define.

Some are declaring 2006 as the year when Internet 2.0 makes its presence felt [see earlier Blog entry].

Others suggest this could be the year when Google finally comes unstuck – negative publicity over China, arrival of MSN AdCenter later in the year [see Travolution news story].

Or will the online travel industry see a new round of aggressive consolidation between the major players, with Cheapflights – despite the obvious denials – a firm favourite for a sale.

But perhaps Gavin Sinden, one of Travolution’s Star Bloggers, is right in his estimation when he said this week at an industry seminar hosted by Twentysix London that the most significant change this year will be far more subtle.

“2006 is the year that we really learn to use relationships in online travel,” he suggested as a means to indicate how companies will start to use feedback forums, personalisation so much more and better than they have.

Nobody in the industry is sticking their necks out too much though. As for us at Travolution, we’re being far bolder by suggesting 2006 is the year when travel celebrates its first ten years online.

I suspect our own declaration will be equally controversial.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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