The Internet has now become a cornerstone of the travel industry in Europe
and the latest online tools, tips and trends will be on show at this year’s World Travel
WTM at London ExCeL from 12-15
November 2007, will showcase the most recent advances in the digital world, in which
online travel is seeing explosive growth of 20% with the sector predicted to
be worth over £33 billion in the European Union by 2011, according to
“The Travel Technology and Travel Online section of World Travel Market was
the first area to sell out”, said Fiona Jeffery, Managing Director, World
Travel Market, “a sure reflection of the enormous growth in the sector.”
WTM’s seminar programmes will be revealing the most recent online travel
developments to pinpoint how to use technology to maximize business
“The message at WTM is clear that all operators can get similar trade
results if they use technology correctly and spend wisely”, added Jeffery.”.
A sobering recent prediction by research analyst group, Gartner, is that
enterprises will waste more than £50 billion on the wrong networking
technologies and services over the next five years, highlighting the need to
get the best advice at WTM this November.
“No one can deny how important the Internet has become as a channel. In
today’s fast-moving world people need answers about what will be the next
must-have feature for travel sites so they don’t get left behind, and WTM
can provide these.
“With a thriving Technology and Online Travel sector and full to bursting
technology seminar programme, WTM can ensure that businesses will find what
they need to succeed whether it be online, in the real world or in the
Technology and Online Travel exhibitors at WTM
Companies exhibiting at World Travel Market’s Travel Technology and Online
Area includes : Bewotec, Biznet Solutions, boo.com, CodeGen Ltd, Comtec,
Conrad Advertising, E-Clear (UK) PLC, FastBooking, Final Quadrant Solutions
Ltd, GlobeTrack, G-rez, Hexaware Technologies Ltd, Hostelsclub.com, Intracom
IT Services, JohnHenry.net, Nozio - Internet for tourism (Netplan), Open
Destinations, Open Hospitality, RedSkyIT, Rezgateway, SynXis, T I Infotech
Pvt Ltd, TouristWay Software Engineering GmbH, Tourplan, TravelCLICK Inc,
TravelRes and WebSource Europe Ltd.
Here are some of the latest trends at WTM that indicate how things are
shaping up this year:
* Online booking has really taken off
* Environment concerns are making their mark
* Web 2.0 social networking sites are flourishing
* Virtual travel is hot
* Video blogging is storming ahead
* Self-booking tools are saving 25% in costs
* Affiliate site sales are booming in billions
* After Web 2.0, it’s now Travel 3.0
* Cellphones are being promised on planes, and
* Travel pods are being installed in shopping malls.
Online booking goes stratospheric
In the UK alone, 17 million are using the Internet to book all or part of
main holidays online. Travel sites saw traffic double in January this year,
when Expedia and Thompson experienced 60% rise in traffic showing how
important online booking has become.
EyeforTravel research (2007) also found impressive growth in online booking
in Central and Eastern Europe. The period 2005/6 saw a 200% increase in
online booking growth in the Czech Republic with figures of up to 50% in
Slovenia and Slovakia.
With over 200 million searches carried out monthly on the Internet that are
specifically travel-related, travel domain names have had major success too
in becoming an extension to advertising and marketing plans
Major trends - environment & Web 2.0
Two newer trends stand out. One is the emphasis on the environment borne
out by initiatives such as lastminute.com’s initiative to extend carbon
offsetting and WTM’s own World Responsible Tourism Day.
The second is Web 2.0, which emphasises the Internet’s role in the travel
industry. As consumers have begun to feel overloaded with information and
increasingly turned off by advertising and marketing, the rise of Consumer
to Consumer (C2C) marketing through the use of Web 2.0 has been unstoppable.
Today many consumers conduct their holiday research more from social
networking websites, where members can post local information about what to
visit and avoid and hook up with other fellow members and plan future trips.
Major brands in social networking have seen their reviews rise to an
unbelievable 10 million in 12 months.
Travel and tourism companies are seeing the importance of Web 2.0, as
user-generated content, such as comments by travellers on the quality of
hotel accommodation, and videos of the very rooms that they were staying in,
now set the pace for C2C marketing. Some hotels even post a link to an
unofficial website, that has unofficial reviews of its properties via a link
to their official website.
The big news this year though, is virtual travel. Virtual versions of
hotels and destinations feature on the fabled ‘Second Life’ where customers
can go to view and post feedback on a blog on travel destinations and
hotels. Through Second Life, companies are able to attract a different type
of consumer to visit alongside virtual potential clients, to check out its
travel offers, and interact with other customers who are on the same site to
find out more.
Blogging is believing
The travel blogging industry is rapidly expanding with many new competitors
entering the market. Online video sharing of information is moving into
video blogging among travelers in a big way. It provides the means for
travelers who are merely interested in filming and posting video logs to
share their travels rather than writing a formal travel blog.
Adventure travel specialists like Explore are launching blog and podcast
facilities for its customers offering an insider perspective on what a tour
is like, using audio and video clips, interviews, images and written
comments to help sell them.
Avis Rent-A-Car has joined the blogosphere with its blog site
www.wetryharder.co.uk, offering its consumers advanced ways of sharing
information and asking questions.
Self-booking tools are helping companies save an average of 25.6% in travel
management company fees, according to new global research by the Business
Travel Research Centre at Cranfield University. The survey of 400 companies,
commissioned by Amadeus, found those using self-booking technology were
saving, on average, a further 9.1% on airline ticket spend.
Adoption levels within consulting services and logistics companies reached a
high of 67% and 65% respectively. Self-booking tools which give users easy
access to a variety of options, including fares from low cost carriers, are
also more successful.
Companies with a lower travel spend of under $2.5 million per year have been
the most successful at driving travel bookings via self booking tools, and
highest adoption level is seen in the first year of implementation.
Affiliate sites success
A staggering £2 billion of UK online sales was generated through affiliates
in 2006. Working with affiliate web sites can increase your online sales and
reduce your costs. It seems that the idea of paying only for web traffic
that buys is really taking off. Once again it seems that the travel vertical
is driving this new online distribution channel. Travel companies such as
the Dutch holiday cottage operation Euro-Relais are now using affiliates for
50% of their online sales.
From Web 2.0 to Travel 3.0
After Web 2.0 the next potential killer category in the online travel space
is being hailed as Travel 3.0, combining Web 2.0 with dynamic packaging.
Travel buyers, inventory suppliers and collaborators will each play a role.
A significant development in C2C marketing, using both word of mouth and
word of mouse, Travel 3.0 will see more commercialisation. This will use Web
2.0 principles to directly encourage sales, based on far broader
collaboration between individual web sites and their contributors, and
underpinned by sophisticated dynamic packaging. Travel 3.0 sites will
harness the proven capability of dynamic packaging to enrich buyer choice
and so build sales, value and margin.
They will be able to create and improve itinerary options, posting
suggestions that can actually be booked. Travel buyers will have access to
these pre-defined itineraries (created, posted and ranked by individual
community users), as well as copious destination and component content and
Help on the move
With cell phone use being promised on planes, BlackBerrys & text messaging
should be able to be accommodated in the near future. Today’s airplanes
have shielding or protection built-in so that the small bit of interference
cited as an obstacle before is virtually eliminated so it becomes no longer
an issue. Regulations are now catching up with the technology and Airbus
has won approval in Europe to install an on-board system for cell phones.
The Internet is everywhere and now it can enable customers to be in contact
whenever and wherever they want, even when shopping. This has recently led
to major brands like Thompson planning to install travel pods in shopping
Amadeus has launched a new version of Amadeus e-Travel Management (v10.1),
enabling corporate travelers and travel managers to improve real-time
communication - using handheld wireless devices while on the move.