One of the highlights of 2003 was the launch of an innovative new concept, broadband-travel.co.uk. A unique travel website which brings a chosen destination to life with streaming videos and 360% virtual tours. Broadband-Travel focuses on the holiday-planners’ emotional and aspirational experiences rather than simply following a functional process.
Kuoni are at the forefront of this new technology and in November 2003 they announced the launch of Broadband-Barbados - the pilot site, which will ultimately lead to the launch of a further fifty destination sites.
Following a huge surge in hits since the launch of Broadband-Barbados, Internet Travel News spoke to Matt Rooke, E-Business Manager, Kuoni, to find out a little bit more about this innovative project.1. What was the main objective of Broadband-Barbados?
Broadband Barbados is the pilot site that will lead to the launch of a total of fifty sites offering moving image content on holidays around the world. The launch of this new broadband site is in line with Kuoni’s philosophy of creating dream holidays. The new site focuses on the customers emotional and aspirational experiences whilst planning their holiday, bringing their chosen destination to life, rather than simply following a functional process.
2. Who is your main target audience for Broadband-Barbados?
Clearly the primary audience is focussed on those people with broadband access. Within this segment, we are looking for those customers that match the typical Kuoni traveller profile.
3. Is this service available to everyone and is there a cost?
Anyone with broadband access can view the sites and it is free to view.
4. Which other destinations will be launched in the next year?
We plan to launch fifty sites in 2004 covering all parts of the Kuoni world from Africa to the Far East and North America to the Indian Ocean.
5. What are the key features of the website?
The content is the key feature of the site with up to 60 minutes of video footage and over fifty 360¡ IPIX images on the destination and hotels we feature there. The focus is on clear and simple navigation bringing the visitor as close to ‘try before you buy’ as they can get.
6. How are you promoting the new website?
The site is being promoted through a mix of above and below-the-line communications. To date, a banner campaign has been run on a selection of leading ISP sites and this will be followed by an email campaign to their subscribers. Most of the promotional activity is due to take place once more of the sites have been launched later this year.
7. How have you ensured that this service is user-friendly?
By focusing on the core content of moving images, ensuring a clear navigation path through the site with minimal clicks and links and keeping the content pithy the user experience is maximised.
8. How important is it for the traveller to see where they are going before they get there?
They say a picture tells a thousand words and never a truer word is spoken when it comes to buying a holiday. Large glossy pictures have always been the cornerstone of travel brochures and too bring these pictures to life really does ensure that travellers get the most realistic impression of their intended destination. An accurate picture of the service you have purchased is more likely to result in the traveller buying the holiday they really want.
9. Although the UK is becoming increasingly focused on Broadband Internet access, findings purport that broadband access is currently available in only 10% of UK households. Are you limiting your number of users with a product that can only be fully appreciated with broadband technology?
We don’t believe this is the case a recent customer survey of our target market indicated 40% had broadband access. In addition, the growth in broadband take-up is phenomenal and it will not be too long before broadband users outstrip narrowband.
10. What is the main selling point of Broadband-travel.co.uk?
Broadband-travel.co.uk is the mothership site that will lead you into a world of moving imagery on the web. It is effectively a virtual contents page to our full range of worldwide destinations.
11. Who has compiled the information on the website (eg. History and Culture) and how do you ensure that it is not biased?
The content has been pulled from a variety of sources and is intended to present the destinations and hotels in as true a light as possible.
12. You can only book with Kuoni on Broadband Travel Pages - do you think this will limit the choice for the user?
Kuoni are Britain’s leading longhaul tour operator offering hundreds of destinations and thousands of different dream holidays throughout the world.
13. With such a rich and in depth quality of information being provided, Broadband-Barbados replicates the role of the travel agent. Do you expect broadband-travel (and sites like it) to lessen demand for travel agents?
Over the last few years the number of new distribution channels that have opened up within the travel industry have had a profound effect on the way that we research and plan our holidays. However, the travel agent still remains the dominant medium for purchase. We believe that all our websites complement the role that travel agents play and our dedicated agents website (agents.kuoni.co.uk) ensures that agents can also use the internet as a selling tool.
Whilst the household penetration of broadband is growing fast it is still a small percentage of the total population. However, in the business world, broadband is far more widespread. As a result, travel agents with this access can use it as a selling proposition to their prospective customers by offering something that they cannot currently see if they do not have broadband access.
14. Will you continue to develop the content as internet technology evolves?
Emphatically, yes. We have always considered ourselves to be at the forefront of travel technology and believe that we can play a major part in revolutionising the way that holidays are sold in the future.