Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who you callin' ugly?

Was asked in an email what I meant when I described Travelpost.com as "not the prettiest of sites" and thought I would share my response with all. I am enjoying watching the battle for eyeballs from review and shopping comparison sites. Clearly Kayak and Sidestep are leading the comparative engine battle (with a little bit of Bezurk on the side in Asia) and Tripadvisor, Away, Gusto and Travelpost taking on each other in the review market. As anticipated the distinction between these two markets (if there ever was one) is disappearing.

The review sites have a lot in common - search box at the centre top, highlighted reviews at centre and either banner space or sectional draw outs in the right hand page groups. The problem with most - and this is my main criticism of Travelpost - is that the contents of the middle or main section are determined either by timeliness of the review, broad (automated) assumptions about me based on my profile or IP address or general site popularity. In other words the community has chosen the layout of this valuable real estate. I do not think this should be left to the community or a full technical solution. In review/community based travel travel a person/producer/marketer should own the home page and merchandise it with the same professionalism that the full service sites employ. This is why Tripadvisor continues to lead the bunch - it has matched the community strength of content with the Expedia strength of monetisation and production.

My recommendation to Travelpost then is to take a more hands on approach to management of the home page. Combine the science of the analysing consumer data with the emotion of a good production team to deliver a home page that at best speaks to me as an individual or at worst I could find interesting in general sense (ie the content is good in is own right even if not targeted). Compare that to the current home page where the top of the fold is just a list of hotel reviews by date showing hotels and destinations that I do not care about.

PS - Posted a review on Travelpost while looking into this blog post. Here is my sample review. Not sure why but the text doubled on itself. Could easily been my fault but can't find how to edit it.

2 comments:

Sam said...

This is Sam from TravelPost.com. Thanks for the excellent feedback and we're working on the produced features you're describing. Also, your review no longer contains redundant text.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Trabber? is a new search engine that aggregates airfares in real time. Here is the address: http://www.trabber.com