Thursday, July 13, 2006

Finding the 'must have' in travel content

Heather Sommerville from AOL UK writes:

As we launch AOL’s content onto the web this month, making AOL’s dedicated Travel channel available to non-members for the first time in our ten-year history, we’ve been investigating what makes for “sticky” content.

Research amongst our members was conducted to determine what the “must-have” travel content was to ensure visitors would keep coming back.

Three distinct groups of traveller were identified: Young Professionals, Empty Nesters and Families. There was much overlap between the requirements of the first two groups; however the Families differed quite considerably.

Young Professionals and Empty Nesters favoured city break deals, no frills aggregators, fare watcher functionality and quick search. These groups are most attracted by tools and content which allow them to make their own decisions and compare multiple sources.

For the Families, unsurprisingly, family deals came out top, closely followed by a secure site logo, site security being a major concern for this group. Also important to the Families are destination guides and those increasingly popular “warts and all” holiday truth guides.

What all groups agreed on was the importance of travel tips and advice, search engines, 360-degree hotel views and personalisation (“Your Itinerary”, “Your Profile” etc). All groups agree that the internet can provide them with more information prior to making a booking than has ever been available before, and what was once a ‘nice-to-have’ is fast becoming a travel site ‘must-have’.

Looking at ComScore’s results for average minutes per visitor, and average usage per day per visitor in May 2006, there is little differentiation amongst the top 10 UK travel sites in terms of ‘stickiness’. Whilst Cheapflights come at the lower end of the scale, with around 1.5 average usage days per visitor and an average of 3 minutes per visitor, the majority all cluster at around 2 days per visitor per month and between 10-15 minutes per visitor.

The TUI group, however does seem to have the edge with around 18 minutes per month per visitor. Thomson has made great strides with developing the content of their site in recent months, adding more and more features with their video tours being particularly impressive.

These developments seem to be paying off in terms of keeping users coming back to the site and staying on there for longer.

Heather Sommerville, travel and lifestyle specialist, interactive marketing, AOL


Richard Evershed said...

Thanks Heather some good stuff here! I was particularly interested in your comments about 360-degree hotel views and that there are now virtually a 'must have'. Have you or has anyone else got any 'views' on 360-degree destination images?
Richard - User Experience
British Airways Holidays

Anonymous said...

Really interesting stuff!!!