Sunday, October 01, 2006

Viewers and readers learn about online travel

Seems like the mainstream press has woken up in the last few weeks to the impact of the internet on the travel industry.

This weekend the BBC’s FastTrack show, a consumer slot on BBC News 24 and BBC World, spoke to Teletextholidays and the Guardian’s travel offshoot I’ve Been There to gauge opinion.

The piece began with a walk down memory lane, with viewers treated to the sight of the old – though still in action for those avoiding Red Button digital technology – Teletext pages with hundreds of travel deals, all to the accompaniment of jolly end-of-the-pier organ music.

Those were the days…

FastTrack reporter Simon Hancock – who rang us a few weeks ago to get some background material for the show – then took viewers on a whirlwind tour of the online travel market over the last ten years, featuring Expedia,, Thomson and the like.

And then, just two hours after Sunday morning’s repeat, BBC News 24 had a news item on very much the same subject.

Brilliant! Sunday morning at home feels like weekdays at work!

After some amusing archive footage of those early holidays around the Mediterranean, the piece went on to analyse the effect of the internet on the package tour market.

In 2002 around 40 million travel products were sold and around half were traditional package holidays. Fast forward to 2005 and the number of trips has increased by 10% to 44 million, which is good news for all the industry, but the share of packages has dropped to 42%.

Simon Vincent from online travel agent Opodo told viewers one of the reasons for consumer enthusiasm for booking travel on the web is that they are not tied to the opening hours of traditional travel agents.

Meanwhile back in the studio, travel hack Karen Benyon mounted a spirited defence of the High Street agent by claiming it has been “proven” that cheaper prices are not necessarily always found on the web.

It is can only be a good thing that the issues affecting the travel industry are finally being aired in front of everyday consumers.

And the ‘onliners’ of the industry are finally getting some recognition.

In the Times a few weeks back Cath Urquhart produced her 50 People to Know in Travel.

Paul Evans (Lowcost Holiday Group), John Hatt (Cheapflights), Andy Phillips (Active Hotels) and Martha Lane Fox ( were all featured.

Not sure how easy the notoriously elusive Hatt will be for consumers to track down - and what about poor old Brent Hoberman, Lane-Fox’s co-founder? Minor points...

[See our own list of the pioneers of online travel, The Influential Ten]

Kevin May, editor, Travolution


Anonymous said...

i saw the fast track programme this morning. of all the web companies they could have spoken to they chose the guardian! typical bbc!!!

Travolution blogger said...

a touch unfair, anonymous. the ivebeenthere website is pretty good and the Guardian is a good example of an old media company using new media to change its business to expand its travel coverage.

Darren Cronian said...

The Guardian and The Times are my favouries for travel content. I have trouble understanding why it has taken people so long to realise what impact the internet has had on travel.

I've been saying this in my blog for the past 17 months :p

Then again, we can be critical of the press, it's only in recent months that the travel industry itself has realised how powerful the internet is IMO.

Travolution blogger said...

the "old press" is doing some interesting things online at the moment, in terms of their offering to travel consumers.

these initiatives consist mainly of providing travel search engines with contextual and clever advertising alongside editorial content. but what escapes many people is that the "quality" newspapers have an existing and captive audience amongst travellers.

this is important as a newspaper website carry match its professional ly written and often excellent editorial with thousands of classified advertisers.

this is an obvious yet slightly overdue development for the now rather dusty-looking ads in the back of the sunday supplements.

Travolution blogger said...

some recent newspaper initiatives:

Anonymous said...

While browsing I found this company called Fleetway Travel. I think theese people are really good and cheap as well.