Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Travel Social Bookmarking Websites

There are a now a few dedicated social travel related bookmarking / voting websites out there. The main themes running through them all are the concept of voting and popularity.

There are degrees of variance though, and I don't see any of these websites exactly offering the same solutions. Being travel specific some have editorial control to ensure they are travel only and others open, so you could post/see non-travel related content on the website. The other variance is that some you can post content directly on the website and others you have to provide a website url to post.

If you have a travel related website then probably have a look at this list and start to engage / interact with these websites.

I have to admit that I founded Travelbeen so why post up other similar websites? Well the answer is that if you have a travel website then you probably should be dealing with as many online web 2.0 services that you can (as long as you rate the service and think that it will benefit you).


Travel Mills - social bookmarking

Travelbeen.com social search engine with bookmarking

Voteitfly.com - social bookmarking

Travelbookmarking - social bookmarking

Travelgeneration - social community with bookmarking

Flagr / - social bookmarking by map

Rrove - social bookmarking

Gusto - social network based bookmarking

TripSubmit - travel bookmarking widget

TravelVoter - social bookmarking



If you know of more then please feel free to post in the comments below and I will add them to the list.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Travelbeen Launches

Travelbeen launches at the PhoCusWright Innovation conference in Hollywood 17th November 2008.

http://www.travelbeen.com - the social search engine for travel

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Virtual Social Travel

It comes in waves, the publicity and take up of virtual social worlds on the internet, but you can't help really wondering that this is leading to something big. I have written about a few times in this blog about Second Life, and whether is is really taking off or not and the impact it potentially will have on travel and this is a continuation of that.


There are now over 40 well used virtual social worlds online all of which are gathering pace it would seem with usage.


If you don't know what I am on about when talking about a virtual social world and want to get a glimse of many of them then see this recently published video by Gary Hayes - 2008 METAVERSE TOUR - THE SOCIAL VIRTUAL WORLD'S A STAGE





Where is this all leading? Well who knows exactly, but I do recon that at some stage it will become more attractive (for certain things) to visit the
virtual place than the real place (travel costs, global warming, environmental, overcrowding, safety, been to most places).


One day a travel company (not as we know it) will offer a virtual travel experience?

Monday, 7 April 2008

Facebook Travel Apps Revisited


The number of travel applications on Facebook continues to grow.

I last looked at the Facebook travel applications on the 3rd November 07 and there were 215 in total then, now there are 541 (2nd April 2008). ‘Trip Advisor’ still commands a high position currently in the number one position for usage and dominates with ‘Where I’ve Been’ in second.


Of the 541 applications the majority of the daily usage is with the top 15, a real long tail has emerged. Within the top 15, 65% of usage come from the top 2 ‘Trip Advisor’ and ‘Where I’ve Been’

Looking through all the applications, it is dominated by travel media intermediary companies and there are no traditional travel companies featuring in the top few, in fact American Airlines is the highest ranking at 50 with only 341 daily users.

Facebook overall is a growing online application and you have to question whether the effort put into running and maintaining a travel application is worth while. The one thing I would point out is that Trip Advisor (Expedia Inc.) are not often caught going down the wrong track and must be having some conversion success in turning their 62,027 daily Facebook users into revenue.

See a full list of stats at http://www.edwhiting.com/facebook/fbtravelapps020408.pdf



Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Travel Media Intermediaries in Australia and New Zealand

There are a growing number of travel media intermediaries online and they are getting stronger and more important than before for all travel providers online; travel agents, tour operators, accommodation, airlines and attractions. PhoCusWright estimate that in 2009 71% of the online travel bookings are from suppliers direct for Australia and New Zealand.

The role of the travel media intermediaries is growing to simplify the suppliers’ product offerings into a narrow choice is in demand. Although the internet has made it easy for suppliers to sell directly, with all suppliers now doing this with different websites, booking engines, presentations and brand values, it does pose problems for the customers of the internet. Users are not able to sift through 100+ websites to find a travel deal each time, they need some form or simplification and hence why the role of the travel media intermediaries growing.

To look at this further I have done a simple review of the travel media intermediaries and categorised them by their Main Function and Revenue Model (definitions below). The list of websites were gathered mainly from Hitwise rankings in the travel category, but include also some other key websites that are being heavily promoted.


Travel Media Intermediaries in Australia and New Zealand Report

Definitions

Main Function
==================================
Booking Engine - Book with the website in a similar way to a travel agent
Guide - Editorially written guides on destinations
Maps - Focus of the website evolves round a map highlighting destinations
Meta Search - Price driven search across multiple travel suppliers and book direct with the supplier
Portal - General travel websites, usually a section of a search engine or directory
Reviews - A website service which predominantly evolves round the reviews of users
Search / Directory - Websites categorised in a directory and the ability to search across
Social - An online social network that evolves round travel

Revenue Models
=================================
Supplier Commission Fees - Transaction charge made to the travel supplier for bookings made
Display Advertising - Banners and Sponsored Links
Listing Fee - Paying to be listed within the website or service
Google Adsense - Google advertising system - sponsored links and display advertising
Yahoo Search Marketing - Yahoo advertising system - sponsored links and display advertising
Government Funded - The website is funded by public money and has no external revenue
Microsoft Advertising - Microsoft advertising system - sponsored links and display advertising


Reviewed WebSites
http://www.wotif.com.au
http://www.travelbug.co.nz
http://www.roamfree.com
http://www.needtoescape.com
http://www.stayz.com.au
http://www.lonelyplanet.com
http://www.wellingtonnz.com
http://www.jasons.co.nz
http://www.holidayguide.co.nz
http://www.about-australia.com
http://www.wises.co.nz
http://www.smaps.co.nz
http://www.zoomin.co.nz
http://www.whereis.com
http://maps.google.com
http://earth.google.com
http://www.street-directory.com.au
http://www.bezurk.com
http://www.kayak.com
http://www.news.com.au/travel
http://travel.ninemsn.com.au
http://travel.yahoo.com
http://nz.travel.yahoo.com
http://www.virtualtourist.com
http://www.tripadvisor.com
http://www.nzlive.com
http://www.aatravel.co.nz
http://maps.yellowpages.co.nz
http://www.totaltravel.com
http://www.accommodationz.co.nz
http://local.live.com
http://www.whereareyounow.com

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Asia Pacific Low Cost Airlines – Holidays and Accommodation Review

There are now an abundance of low cost airlines in the Asia Pacific region, and rightly so, especially when this vast area accounts for a large percentage of the worlds population.

I have reviewed 59 low cost airline websites across this region with a view to gaining a picture of what supplementary holidays and accommodation products the airlines are now providing.

There is a supporting document of full results can be seen at http://www.edwhiting.com/asiapacificairlines.pdf

Holidays Summary
There were some interesting results from the holidays summary. I was looking for the airline to provide some kind of holiday which involves their flights. This was categorised as either a Flight + Hotel or a Package. The Flight + Hotel is the same thing in this case as a Dynamic Package allowing the user to search for a flight and applicable hotels in one single price with flexible dates. The Package is a fixed package with a single price for the duration provided e.g. 7 nights. Unavailable was that the website was having some technical glitches at the time of review.

In the results 73% didn’t provide any form of holiday for the user and 22% did provide holidays. Although this doesn’t necessarily show volume in passengers it does show a clear mark that these airlines are not providing holidays as a whole.

No Holidays - 43 / 73%
Packages - 7 / 12%
Flight + Hotel - 6 / 10%
Unavailable - 3 / 5%

Accommodation Summary
The accommodation review was to find out which airlines had a hotel or accommodation product on sale on their website. 51% didn’t provide any accommodation, 46% did and 3% was unavailable. Of the airlines that did provide accommodation, the most interesting find was that it is dominated by OctopusTravel.com (over half the airlines that provide accommodation) which provides a white labelling service to the airlines. There were a few other white label service providers which all provide to one or max two airlines. These include: Expedia – WWTE.com, Travelguru.com, Travelpartnerweb.com, Rates2go.com, Bookhostels.com, Roamfree.com, Wotif.com and Travel.Rakuten.co.jp. There were a few that didn’t rely on a white label and had accommodation built into their website. I classed these as In-House, however this could just be either in-house contracting or a close technology integration into another provider.

No Accommodation - 30 / 51%
OctopusTravel.com - 14 / 24%
Other Provider - 8 / 14%
In-House - 5 / 8%
Unavailable - 2 / 3%



Summary
There are only 6 airlines offering Flight + Hotel, however 27 offering accommodation. Of the accommodation providers OctopusTravel.com dominates but only seems to provide a white label solution. Although this review isn’t indicative of the number of passengers travelling, there does show clearly that the low cost airlines that provide accommodation could provide a better integration of accommodation into their product offering. This could be in the form of a Flight + Hotel search which gives the customer real flexibility and the airline the ability to potentially earn more money out of each customer. This is an opportunity for either some of the other accommodation providers or OctopusTravel.com to beef up their offering to get more sales from the growing Asia Pacific low cost airlines.

To see more details of the review go to http://www.edwhiting.com/asiapacificairlines.pdf

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Dynamic Packaging and Extras in Australian Travel Websites

Following on from a similar exercise looking at Dynamic Packaging (DP) and Extras on New Zealand’s top travel websites, I have now covered the Australian top travel websites.

Overall there is a disappointing level of DP flexibility online in the top websites. Saying that the main three websites that stood out were WebJet, Expedia and Qantas, which all offered DP flexibility. WebJet and Expedia are slightly ahead of Qantas as they also offer a good range of Extras in the booking path.

The other interesting website was STA Travel which was the only one (as far as I could see) operating a shopping basket system, where a customer could search for a flight then add to the basket, then search for a hotel and again add to the basket. The basket could then be checked out and booked as one single booking. Despite the problems of the shopping basket system not being clear to the user it is a good system.

The rest of the websites in the list were pretty much all the same, had flights, hotels and offered fixed packages.

The only two negatives that I would highlight are Lastminute.com.au which at the time of doing this exercise its website wasn’t working properly and I couldn’t get any flight results and the other was Escape Travel which doesn’t seem to offer real time booking of flights.

Qantas v Air New Zealand – I though that I would give this a mention, when comparing the functionality between these two national carriers the main difference between the two is Air New Zealand offers Extras in the booking path which makes it a better experience (and probably more profitable).

The results are below of the top ten Australian travel websites covered.



If you can't see this table you can link to it at http://www.edwhiting.com/auswebsites.jpg

List of Links:

http://www.webjet.com.au/
http://www.flightcentre.com.au/
http://www.lastminute.com.au/
http://www.expedia.com.au/
http://www.bestflights.com.au/
http://www.travel.com.au/
http://www.escapetravel.com.au/
http://www.zuji.com.au/
http://www.qantas.com.au/
http://www.statravel.com.au/