Thursday, June 15, 2006

Travolution@ITT - Part 16 - Spanners and clarity

Arjo Ghosh from Spannerworks signs off:

Wednesday 2am: Things are hazy but we have help at hand. Another agency is going round the bar telling people that Spannerworks sells spanners. This is good news, it means I can go to bed safe in the knowledge that by 6am we will be semantically linked to mechanical tools for the travel industry forever...

Wednesday 10.30am: “Fellow travellers become your online travel agent”. We have just had the session on search with both Google and Yahoo! contributing a range of ideas and tools that the travel market could utilise in developing their search marketing channel.

In contrast to presentations as recent as last year by the big search engines, both Esteban Walther from Google and Nick Jones from Yahoo!, today’s search engine is a more open and informative media partner.

Yahoo!'s development of industry research is hugely useful for marketers and Google's willingness to, at last, discuss their agenda more openly is refreshing and long overdue.

Noticeable from both presentations is the way in which they see social communications and media contributing to the travel industry. Although much of their income is from paid search advertising, the engines place user engagement as a key aspect to their long-term planning.

For a travel marketer there are a range of low-cost tools, including Google Maps, Flickr, and multimedia content that can be developed into the travel channel.

If search engines are placing social communications at the centre of online community engagement then the tide for online travel offers is surely unstoppable. Adapt your content and let your customers engage before your competitors [the most notable example of which is] do – or lose out.

Nick also presented Yahoo! Answers, the new service that allows users to ask a question that can be responded to by a community, defined by the interests.

Again the community becomes the influence on the travel purchase decision with potential customers getting their advice from a peer, prior to any engagement, if any, with the brand.

My thinking is clearly starting to join-up, not just in search, but for the whole of Web 2.0 and the possibilities for travel. It takes a while to absorb the wave of new technology and how people are using it in ways that suits them, but the fog eventually lifts.

Customer engagement is hardly a new concept, but communicating with your customers on their terms is clearly a new challenge, particularly in the digital channel.

Like it or not, peer-to-peer marketing is here now, and the fun is only just beginning.

[Conference photos on Flickr]

Arjo Ghosh, chief executive, Spannerworks

1 comment:

Darren Cronian said...

The internet has become a MASSIVE tool for travel companies and travellers to sell, buy and research a holiday - I love the thought of being able to view a satellite image of the hotel before I have even visited it - okay, the images tend to be a little out of date, but it's better than view pictures which could be a few years old.

It's great aswell that travel companies are now embracing the internet after so many years of fighting against it.