Consumer empowerment drives change

This year’s Eyefortravel Distribution Summit Europe kicked off with a keynote debate on ‘The year of consumer empowerment’, with industry experts from, Travelzoo, Starwood and, discussing the shift towards the consumer and the influence they have over online content.
Claiming to revolutionise the way hotels do business on the web, was launched by Web Reservations International on May 2nd, and combines search engine technology, social networking tools, and online booking functionality.

Erica Murphy, Hotel Product Manager, told BTN, “Its social networking with a purpose; to share your experience of travel with people like you”. has reacted to new customer expectations, seeking to meet the needs of sophisticated travellers: “Consumer empowerment and user generated content is very popular at the moment and a lot of websites are doing elements of it, but they are not doing it the same way as us, with booking capabilities.” Says Erica.

She revealed that customers are still weary of traditional websites that offer user-generated content, since consumers do not know who’s reviews they are reading, however enables users to link up with their friends and associates, eliminating trust issues.

Customers have the choice to book at, or to go directly to the hotel website. “I see this as a pay per click website but we are giving customer’s the choice,” says Erica “There is a trend for customers to go direct to hotel websites”.

ADVERTISEMENT users do not need to be members to search and book at, and according to Erica, customers are offered the same price on as on the hotel website. The main benefit of booking with seems to be the having a personal record of destinations / hotels visited and building a personal profile.

The site is currently available in English, and will be rolled out to other European and Asian markets with multi-lingual content in the next couple of months. also plans expand beyond hotels, with the addition a flight engine and car hire content as well as featuring restaurant and city reviews in coming months.

With 600, 000 members and one million reviews online, aims to reach 30 million people in 2007 with its launch campaign in 2007.