Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Travolution@WTM-Power to the People

A consistent theme carried throughout the two-day Travolution conference, which took place during World Travel Market , was the increasing power consumers will have over the online travel market.

Whether it was John Bray from PhoCusWright, who discussed the impact of the shift to a consumer-centric society, or Graham Donoghue from TUI Northern Europe, who said, "The more we trust the customer the more successful we will be," the message was clear: consumers are wresting control back from the grip of suppliers and suppliers had better get used to it.

Hugo Burge, vice chairman of Cheapflights, agreed, "Viral marketing and social networking are now incredibly important".

Donoghue said, "If we don’t embrace user-generated content we're stuffed".

This is great news for sites like TripAdvisor.

"Trust is online gold dust," remarked Marc Charron, European head of TripAdvisor, noting that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from other consumers.

"We already trust the advice we get advice from friends, so what's different today is that we are trusting strangers," said Charron.

Sometimes this is counterintuitive.

Wikipedia, for example, defies conventional wisdom, observed Cherron.

"You’d think Wikipedia would be rubbish since anyone can contribute to it, but, as it turns out, it is just as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Actually, that's not all that surprising.

The majority of definitions entered into the first edition of the Oxford English dictionary were in fact submitted by someone confined to an insane asylum.

Don't believe me? Look it up on Wikipedia.

Tricia Holly Davis
Freelance Journalist

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