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Business Travel

Web 2.0 & UGC is it the missing link in the online travel buying cycle?

Web 2.0 or Travel 2.0 is a hot topic for the travel industry and new research by EyeforTravel has revealed that User Generated Content (UGC) now plays a remarkable role in the UK young professional’s online travel buying cycle, with 72% saying that consumer reviews have influenced their travel choice. –

UGC is having a significant impact on their decision-making process when it comes to travel; 15.3% state they always use UGC for travel, and a lower 12% for non-travel products such as music. Interestingly 63.8% occasionally use UGC in their buying cycle, so that’s a sizeable 79.1% who have actually used consumer reviews for travel before.

“The implications for the travel market are expected to be enormous as UGC is effectively bringing the experience, knowledge and advice services online that are more commonly associated with offline travel services. Traveller reviews and recommendations represent the missing component for a complete online travel buying experience,” says Amy Scarth, Head of Research at EyeforTravel.

Ultimately UGC is proving to be a very powerful conversion tool as consumers are looking for reassurance to shift from the research to the purchase stage of the buying cycle. UGC is being used after the search is narrowed and therefore later in the research cycle. 29.7% of UK young professionals say consumer reviews are very influential when booking travel online and 50.3% say they has a certain level of influence. Only 20% do not find them useful at all. TripAdvisor is by far the favourite UGC site and also up there as one of the most popular travel sites in general.

Many companies are worried about the implications of UGC in the world of travel and others are embracing the opportunities presented. But is it a threat? What do people actually look for in consumer reviews? Interestingly, EyeforTravel revealed that most people actually look for positive reviews rather than negative reviews and state that this is clearly where their focus is. Following this, people are looking for detail, particularly information that is not available in official reviews. They are looking for honesty, mixed reviews, a good balance of positive and negative comments from which they make their own judgement, rather than take it exactly for what it is. They look for quantity, suggesting sites with low volumes of UCG won’t be taken seriously. They want true insight, experience and knowledge and they value consumer ratings. Further down the list are negative reviews and, the importance of how a review is written is emphasised i.e. they only listen to somebody similar to themselves. It is suggested that as the value of UGC grows, niche UCG sites, such as those catering for families or singles, are likely to split off from main sites and become very successful.

For those that book offline, 90% still consider online travel purchasing to be more convenient. The research suggests that it is not always their preference to go offline to more traditional channels but, rather the availability of particular products and information online. They say personal advice is missing and some the web lacks human contact, reliability and security. However, as UGC enters the online space, not much is keeping the UK young professional from buying online except the capability of online travel companies to cater to the rising demand of the consumer in terms of product range and availability.

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Business Travel

Now is the time to Pick’n’Mix your Holidays

With holiday booking via high street travel agents declining and online travel booking up by almost five times since the turn of the century, the pickage holiday has been born – the non-package, ‘choose and book yourself’ holiday is now popular with nearly two thirds of Brits.

According to research by travel price comparison website travelsupermarket.com, 38 per cent more people now book their holidays online than with a travel agent. Back in 1999, 39 per cent more people booked through a travel agent than online.1 This trend has led to the closure of many high street branches of travel giants such as Thomson and the newly-merged Thomas Cook and MyTravel.

Bob Atkinson, flights manager at travelsupermarket.com, said: “It may not be the end of the high street travel agent, but we have certainly entered a completely new era in holiday booking. It’s so easy to research and book your holiday online and you can read all manner of reviews at the same time. Many people prefer this to being swayed by the personal opinion of a travel agent.”

Holiday hunters aged between 25 and 34 are the most likely to book online, with 68 per cent stating they use the internet. Only 16 per cent of this age group would consider phoning or going into a travel agent. In 1999, that figure stood at nearly 50 per cent.1

This growth in online booking has created, what travelsupermarket.com terms, the pickage holiday – a holiday where you pick and book all the elements separately rather than going with a pre-arranged package. According to separate research,2 64 per cent of Britons prefer to use the web to research and book a holiday of their own making.

Bob Atkinson said: “The package holiday industry is now responding to the threat from pickage. Operators are moving towards making their product flexible, allowing customers to opt in or out of items such as transfers and meals.”

According to the survey, the top five reasons to pickage not package are:
1. Greater flexibility
2. You are more likely to get the holiday you want
3. It is more cost effective
4. Prefer to avoid very ‘touristy’ destinations
5. A greater choice of destinations.

Launched in 2003, travelsupermarket.com has grown from simply comparing flight prices to offering comparisons on tens of thousands of hotels, flights, package holidays and car hire, travel insurance, airport parking deals, activities and excursions. Site expansions this year include a bed and breakfast function and a city break search option.

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Business Media Startups Travel

WAYN takes a new line…

Social networking site WAYN.com has officially re-launched this week with a new business model to allow members to take full advantage of its communication tools free of charge.

Previously, WAYN worked on a subscription model, but flagging growth, tough competition from new arrivals in the social networking space, such as Facebook, and input from its investors, including the site’s chairman, Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman, have led Wayn to rethink its strategy.

The latest Alexa figures show cause for optimism, its founders said this week.

The site now ranks 570 on Alexa, its strongest reach ever, Jerome Touze told Travolution.

“We still have a lot more to do clearly, but it’s a good starting point nonetheless,” he admitted.

Under the new model, all members can now view information on a host of subjects, including travel, and find other members, based on where they are. Members can also send unlimited messages in order to locate new or old friends.

WAYN will still work on a subscription-based model to the extent that it will charge members for added services, but the plan is to garner the bulk of the company’s revenues from advertising.

Touze added that the new model will “provide us with unrivalled advertising opportunities given our ability to provide relevant content to our members based on their whereabouts”.

WAYN currently counts 8.4 million members worldwide.

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Business Travel

Holidaymakers say breaks in Britain are to expensive!.

Instead, Britons find it cheaper to fly abroad.

Nearly 20% would like to reduce their carbon footprint by taking a break in Britain rather than going abroad but find that UK holidays are too expensive, a survey by insurance company More Than found.

All told, 49% of the 1,973 people polled reckoned holidaying in the UK was too pricey, with 20% believing resorts are not as friendly as those abroad.

A total of 45% were concerned about carbon emissions produced through flying abroad, but 22% of all those surveyed see no alternative to foreign travel unless UK costs come down.

Asked to consider UK locations, 38% said Cornwall was too expensive, while 28% believed Devon was too dear, too.

“Although we are all being encouraged to think green, our research reveals that the cost of holidays in this country is a huge barrier,” said More Than’s Mike Holliday-Williams.

“Holiday operators should be aware of this so that they can think of ways to entice Brits to holiday in the UK so that we can all work harder to reduce our impact on the environment.”

Responsible Travel do promote Green UK holidays so check them out here…