Thursday, March 22, 2007

Travolution@MediaGuardian Summit - Beta-isation of ideas

It is a somewhat fanciful notion that there are hundreds of companies out there that are in constant "blue-sky" mode, lazing around on wacky chairs in bold-coloured rooms, coming up with great ideas for their brands.

And, what's more, risk-taking is apparently a lot of fun.

According to Joanna Shields, the international president of social networking site Bebo, their tiny team of around 30 people have often spent months formulating an idea and it has subsequently failed, only for something that was conceived and built in a afternoon has had a massive impact.

The point Shields and others on a panel to discuss social media, including Stefan Lechere at Google, are making is that if brands do not play with fire every now and again how will know if their consumers will embrace it.

My mind goes back to a conversation with a senior executive at one of the UK's leading multiples travel companies a few months back.

He said the company had tried out quite a few social media tools across their portfolio of websites - some had paid-off considerably in terms of conversions or leads, while others were quietly dropped within weeks.

I remember another senior figure from a small tour operator who told me recently that he was too afraid to ask his developers about introducing Google Maps to his website, thinking that it would be a lot of legwork and stress.

He didn't even know that Google Maps can be implemented with a widget as simple as an coded API - something any right-minded developer would not be scared of.

Funnily enough he walked away with a slightly more confident approach to trying out ideas.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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