Thursday, May 04, 2006

Getting in tune with customers

Talk of personalisation and user-generated content seems to be dominating discussions in the online travel community these last few weeks.

Indeed last week’s Travolution Summit witnessed a clutch of senior industry figures stressing the importance of allowing consumers to drive the online experience.

How this will be come to fruition on commercial websites will be interesting. Trip Advisor has been widely praised for a business model that allows users to create reviews of hotels (at the moment) in return for a deep-linked booking facility to other sites.

[Unless you are The Sunday Times, of course, which highlighted the site in its round-up of the Best Travel Websites last weekend, but suggested users “watch out for spammers — many of these sites suffer from contributors who praise their own hotel or criticise a rival”.]

So, can transactional travel websites learn something from their counterparts in other areas of the travel industry?

A relatively recent new entrant into the market – My Life of Travel – is a good example.

The site allows users to generate a Blog for a holiday, upload photographs, create route maps, as well as providing practical knowledge and the opportunity to share travel tips.

Rather than just being a private service for registered users, all content is open access, so users can browse through the adventures of fellow travellers.

If transactional websites are to take (a not so giant) leap into the so-called Internet 2.0/personalised space, then it is likely to be similar to the My Life of Travel model.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

No comments: