Thursday, March 22, 2007

Travolution@MediaGuardian Summit - Travel and media face similar challenges

There is no doubt that the mainstream giants are facing many of the same challenges as some of those in the travel industry.

The final session of the day demonstrates this is many ways. The heavyweights have finally been wheeled out: Alan Rusbridger (editor of the Guardian), Andy Duncan (CEO of Channel 4) and Tom Loosemore (web 2.0 project director of the BBC).

So what are the similarities?

The old media houses have been forced to take a long, hard look at what their customers are doing in their daily lives: how people consume programmes or newspapers; how they find out what is being broadcast or printed; and how they share their experiences of what they have seen or read.

Travel companies are facing the same challenges: how people interact with travel brands; how they find out what travel products are available; and how they share their experiences of where they have been.

And what has been driving this change? It's the web, of course.

"I think we’ll look back in 200 years time and say the internet revolution was bigger than the broadcast revolution," says Loosemore.
What is clear, listening to final remarks from the panel and various delegates, is that the media [travel] companies that do not adapt to the new consumer landscape will struggle, or cease to exist.

If anyone thinks consumers in one/two/five/ten years time will be behaving in the same way as they do now, they are sorely mistaken.

Media [travel] companies are starting to adapt - BBC, Guardian, Times are good examples in media, Thomson, Thomas Cook and BA, in travel - but there are many, many others that are not.

Nobody here will stick there neck out and say who may or may not survive in the new digital world. And we wouldn't dare suggest who may be under threat in travel.

But, as we've said many times before: travel companies need to understand the new landscape, in which consumers are taking far more control of their purchasing decisions than they ever before.

The challenges, if possible and if the enthusiasm is there, should really be seen as opportunities.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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