Monday, October 22, 2007

Open Thread - Most Powerful People in Online Travel

We took a risk and here it is - Travolution's list of the most powerful people in the UK online travel industry.

You can access the full list on the Travolution website. Includes Top 50, Powerful Women, Rising Stars and International Players.

We now hand over to you all to add your comments.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution



live and die by these things, kevin. but fair play to travolution for having a go.

i would argue that only having from lastminute there is an oversight, seeing as you have dermot and roche from expedia on the list.

stella travel services? not sure about that one either.

will keep looking and post more criticism later! ;-0

Anonymous said...

Why are there only nine women?

Travolution Blogger said...

John Franks: I assume you mean only having ONE from

If so, it's simple: We decided that in terms of the way companies are run in the case of, Ian McCaig has a stronger influence over the whole business, rather than at Expedia, where David Roche's role is as equally powerful as that of his boss, Dermot Halpin.

Travolution Blogger said...

Anonymous: There are only nine women as one of the original ten was removed with literally just minutes to spare before we went to press, following her departure from a company.

Alex said...

That last comment from Kevin I think summs up this article / edition.

It is about companies - not people.

Interesting read though - but mis titled.

Travolution Blogger said...

Alex: good point. And apologies you didn't feature (yet!).

With companies we would be faced with equal challenges: powerful in that they generate the most revenues, profits or highest margins.

Or, equally important, power over the rest of the industry in terms of bookings and passenger numbers.

Or, equally important again, power over others because of their innovation, thought leadership qualities (terrible phrase, i know!) and risk-taking abilities.

We have probably just commissioned two more surveys already!

Travolution Blogger said...

Alex: pedants corner here. your "mis titled" was, er, miss-spelt. :-)

Darren Cronian said...

Looking forward to reading this issue when I get back home.

I just wondered how did you evaluate how each person was the most powerful people in online travel?

I don't come from a travel professional background so apologies if it's obvious and I haven't understood.

Travolution Blogger said...

Darren: Thanks for the comment.

We asked some basic questions: are they powerful in their companies?

[Leadership, influence over how it operates (in most cases they are the bosses of their companies, but not all), amount of business they do, but also how powerful they are in the wider industry. Do their peers look to what they are doing/achieving? Have they helped develop innovative products which the rest of the sector admires or has imitated]

hope that helps.

Alex said...

What was that about my speling?


best wishes. Alex

Guillaume said...

Funny enough none of the top 50 feature on my bloglog...does that mean they don't read Travolution blog or they'd rather stay anonymous and not feature their picture on the site because they are too powerful ????

Guillaume (being cynical)

Anonymous said...

how about top 50 under 35 years old next time!

Anonymous said...

the top 50 are busy shaping the industry, they haven't got time for blogs

David T said...

Out of interest, why did Hilton get included? I have nothing against them at all, but they would seem to be the outliers here - not an online travel company, but a hospitality company for whom online is an important channel.

I can understand the pureplay airlines like Ryanair - for whom online is 99% of their business, and who arguably have done a lot to change the face of online travel - but if you're going to have Hilton, why not have Marriott or (for that matter) - Hertz and other travel "OEMs" with heavily visited and used websites?

Travolution Blogger said...

Guillaume: Thanks for your comment.

A few reasons perhaps:

1) they use RSS readers to view blog posts
2) they just haven't signed up to mybloglog.

Travolution Blogger said...

Anonymous, on "under 35" issue: We steered well clear of this.

It is a very cloudy area, but there are legislative issues with regards to highlighting people's ages if there inclusion subsequently has a baring on future employment prospects.

in other words: we were being politically correct.

however, there is an argument that if we highlighted those under 35 we should, likewise, recognise those over 55.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your pc reply!

the point of showing those under 35 is to see who have made most progress in a short space of time. In addition it may show who will be leading the industry in future. Are you reluctant because you have just moved past the 35 year barrier??

why don't you estimate how many of your top 50 are under 35,is would be interesting

why would you recognise those over 55, surely they are having their afternoon nap at the moment so wouldnt see it anyway

Travolution Blogger said...

David T: Tim Davis has positioned himself as one of the most important people within that hotel sector, especially in terms ofdriving forward Hilton's distribution channel direct to consumers via the web.

He weathered the storm when Hilton International became HHC and landed an even bigger role.

Travolution Blogger said...

Anonymous, on "under 35s" again:

We suspect that some of those we recognised in the Rising Stars section may well be leading the industry in years to come.

You are wrong on one particular point: I am not over 35. :-)

Anonymous said...

Seems like led heavily by who advertises on Travolution. Leaving the top names of course that you had to put for credibility!

Travolution Blogger said...

Anonymous (what a surprise!): Oh peerlease...

Here are the companies featured in the top 50, with an asterisk if they have advertised in Travolution.

Cheapflights *
Teletext Holidays *
Amadeus *
Lowcast *
Yahoo! *
Gold Medal *
Thomas Cook
EasyGroup *
UK Stella Group
Costa Cruises
Opodo *
Worldspan *
Travelsupermarket *
STA Travel
Virgin Holidays
CarTrawler *
Virgin Atlantic
BA *

14 out of the 43 companies represented have advertised in Travolution magazine.

This list is hardly "led heavily" by advertisers.

It is worth bearing in mind that those 14 conpanies have probably advertised with us because they can reach a knowledgable and influential audience of senior people in the industry, not because they think they can schmooze the editor and influence editorial content.

Apologies for sounding so defensive, but to suggest the list was put together for commercial purposes is insulting to Travolution and our advertisers.

Guillaume said...

Hi Kev,

Is that me or this article is the most commented (=controversial)post on Travolution Blog?

Cheers and see you next week.


Travolution Blogger said...

Guillaume: Yes, it is probably the most controversial, as to be expected with a list.

But it is not the most commented. That accolade goes to The Recommended, about a month or so ago.

Alex said...

I am under 35. And?

Regarding advertising / being listed - well this is chicken and egg..... neither are as a direct result of each other specifically. Big companies advertise. Companies that advertise become big.

The correlation is a symptom not a cause, in my opinion.

Regarding individuals - if it really was about individuals - I would like to have seen some of the professors and other academics.

Must go.... got to go and write a post about the top 50 most powerful travel industry journalists....

Travolution Blogger said...

Alex: Interesting point, but I'm not sure about academics.

There are certainly some influential ones here in the UK, Dr Buhalis at Bournemouth is one I can think of immediately, but we primarily wanted to recognise those at a search and booking level.

the advertising-content accusation is, frankly, ridiculous.

if we had deliberately wanted to keep our commercial support happy we would have included travel technology, marketing and web design companies in the list - as they make up the vast majority of our advertisers.

i don't suspect anyone on the travolution team (i.e., me) will feature on a list powerful travel journalists - i would suggest you look at the well-known figures on the nationals first (who, with just the tap of a few keys, can open up destination to a huge audience), before coming down to our level. :-)

Alex said...

Hi Kevin,
Yeah - academics are important - not for what they are doing today - but for the mindset they are creating in the travel industry of the future..... to control an industry, control it's education. That is pretty powerful, don't you think?

Ed Whiting said...

Wealth! Most people are interested in money in these positions (they are lying if they say they are not) - I have categorised the list by Wealth potential on TravelRemark! just to add to the controversy.

Travolution Blogger said...

Ed: Great take on our list. many thanks.

Here is the post.

Dimitrios Buhalis said...

Thank you Alex and Kevin for the comments

Any such list will inevitably leave people out and ignite debate

Nevertheless well done for a comprehensive list with great pioneers in there

Naturally I have reservations such as my friend John Kent who built Medhotels before selling it to and now runs is not feature - but this is the nature of this lists

I agree that there are several academics/researchers that are very influencial in these issues and perhaps develop the technologies and the business models several years before they are adopted in the marketplace- but again this is part of life

I think that the main challenge is to get the 50 and the othe 250 or so influential people to co-opete (compete and collaborate) to take eTourism forward and also to use this area to redistribute wealth to people and regions that need it most. Any way the idealistic person inside me is looking for a good cause.

Best wishes

Dimitrios Buhalis

Travolution Blogger said...

Dimitrios: Thanks for your comments.

As i have explained to people who have emailed directly, we wanted to recognise people for their "power" NOW, rather than being retrospective (something, we believe, the travel trade press suffers from constantly).

The travel industry is needlessley insular and often guilty of navel-gazing. We wanted to highlight those that are powerful in terms of business and their pioneering methods, here in 2007.

I hope this goes some way to explaining why some individuals were omitted from the list.

I am intrigued by your final paragraph. Can you explain more, or email me to discuss further?

Anonymous said...

I'd be very interested in understanding how you selected these 50 companies? What were the criteria used? PR and advertising?

I just came back from Eye for Travel in Berlin where we've seen some true innovations from startups and well established brands.

What is CarTrawler doing there when Hertz, Avis, National and Europcar are investing millions innovating in marketing and distribution? You didn't fall for their smart PR, did you?

Why Ryanair and not Flybe? One criterion must have been customer disatisfaction?

Why Hilton and not Sheraton? They're doing a lot in terms of web 2.0.

Why tripadvisor and not or trustedplaces?

Why holiday auto and not autoeurope?

I think you guys have your favorites. There is no selection process, no clear criteria. It's just a bogus ranking.

Travolution Blogger said...

Anonymous on "bogus ranking" (why are commenters always anonymous when they want to criticise us? just bear in mind we have the IP addresses of all commenters):

Anyway, thanks for your comments.

In terms of whether the list was advertising led, I can refer you to previous comments above, where we outlined which companies our list of luminaries belonged to and if they have advertised in Travolution. 14 of the 43 companies mentioned have advertised, so as the editor of Travolution I can only say that argument is flawed.

Incidentally, the list was about people, not companies. And only those based in UK & Ireland.

We answered your question about Hilton in previous comments above.

TripAdvisor instead of Boo or TrustedPlaces? Well, Boo launched only in March this year (sorry, Ray Nolan, who I notice spoke at E4T in Berlin, is not going to make a list of the most powerful people in the industry after seven months, despite Boo being an excellent site).

TrustedPlaces is very good as well. But are its creators "powerful"? I suspect not. However, the financial backers of TrustedPlaces, David Soskin and Hugo Burge, are both listed.

AutoEurope is not based in the UK or Ireland.

The model CarTrawler has created is wielding a tremendous amount of power across the car hire sector. Look at the comments on TravelMole Autralia recently following the VisitBritain deal. It's model is a threat to the direct selling of car hire companies and therefore its power should be recognised. If we fell for the PR of long line of travel companies the list would look very different. Give us some credit.

Just because AVIS, Hertz, National and Europcar are investing "millions innovating in marketing and distribution" doesn't mean that any one individual should have been selected.

One might argue that CarTrawler are innovating and a start-up perhaps, which you highlighted initially?

Finally, I take your point about FlyBe and Ryanair. However, we were faced with a difficult question over which airlines - and their respective executives - should feature. In terms of volume, influence on online travel trends, innovation and leadership, we felt BA, EasyJet, Ryanair and Monarch should be included.

We did not take customer disatisfaction into account. Perhaps something for another list. :-)

Here is the list of critiria you asked for the individuals:

* Influence within their company
* Influence within the market
* Innovation
* Respect of their peers
* Size of business

There WAS a selection process (over the course of 4 weeks), a set of criteria, and the list is not bogus.

Happy to discuss further here on the blog or privately via email.

Darren Cronian said...

Thanks for the explanation Kevin.

It's a shame people feel the need to post their comments anonymously when they are criticising.

Travolution Blogger said...

Darren: It has happened a lot recently.

I don't mind most of the time.

However when comments are very critical about what travolution does as a brand, questionining our motives, etc, cowardice often comes into play and invariably the comments are left anonymously.

Shame really, as the blog is a useful place to debate issues but that is difficult if users are unable to see where other users are from - and, in turn, understand their motives.

Ian Brooks said...

Just as Google's ranking criteria remain shrouded in secret, so too I suppose must Travolutions!

Well done Kevin for creating a bit of controversy and plenty of interest, engagement and entertainment.