I was disappointed with the press release in TravelToday from needitnow that was initially empty of details then later expanded to add that doing something meant spending money on marketing. As you may recall I made a plea for press releases to contain strategies with innovative approaches to marketing such as...
"do a revolutionary deal with a social networking site to combine distribution with reviews"
The announcement from Webjet today seems to have heard my plea. Webjet have announced that in December they will launch a social networking and user generated content site - Planit. Planit will change Webjet into "the MySpace of travel with an environment to buy, plan, share and talk" according to CEO David Clarke. A very ambitious claim indeed but I am in favour of the approach. In fact I applaud the idea.
Creating a community around travel is a proven success through Tripadvisor, who announced this week also their launch of a dedicated wiki site - Tripadvisor Inside. As we know Sheraton relaunched their site with a user generated focus. Travel and social networking are a prefect compliment. If successful will be a great way to build sticky and loyal traffic.
However this is no small task. Successful social networking sites need scale - lots of it. You need lots of people posting lots of information and lots of readers to drive lots of traffic. That is a lot of lots. Execution will be critical. The first step will be the challenge of obtaining the Planit URLs - the www.planit.com URL points to a design and manufacturing software provider and the www.planit.com.au URL starts at a referrer page eventually ending up at travelclearance.com.au (who while also Melbourne based do not look like they have anything to do with Webjet). Webjet have told us in the past how important the URL is - if you recall they abandoned the brand Bookabed over the issue - so I hope they are able to fix up that issue. Then turn to the challenge of functionality and achieving scale.
Great idea - execution will be everything, starting (as always) with the brand and URL.