Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Travelocity could get distracted looking out the Window

Hoping to cash in on the... Trying to generate traffic through improved SEO... Giving their editor-in-chief a place to... Improve customer loyalty through putting a face to the brand...

I don't know why but Travelocity have launched a blog called the Window Seat. I get the business model based on generating huge amounts of traffic and the great SEO boost from large amounts of user generated content and reviews as captured in Sidestep buying Travelpost, Expedia when it bought Tripadvisor and Travelport's (original plans) when it bought asia-hotels. I also believe you do a lot to improve your relationship with your customer's when they can see behind the scenes in of the business through a corporate or CEO blog such as Tripadvisor's fantastic blog on actual customer queries.

But I do not see the benefit to Travelocity in setting up a generalist, editorially driven travel blog. The general travel blog is one of the top three crowded blog spaces on the planet (next to porn and tech). Sure Travelocity have a good writer in Amy Ziff but there are well established players here such as Gridskipper and uber blogs like RealTravel that collect together the blogs and commentary of others so Travelocity is entering this space late.

It is not just second mover status that makes me question this strategy, it is that by definition Window Seat cannot speak to all or even a majority of the huge customer base of Travelocity. The chances of Amy or her team writing anything that more than 5% of the Travelocity customer base is interested in is near zero. That has nothing to do with Amy's writing ability it is because there are just so many Travelocity customers from so many different countries - each with different ideas, plans and needs around travel - that it is impossible. Travel itself is a big category, combine that with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of different customers and you do not have a chance to target them in a single catch all blog. Travelocity would have to replicate the travel section of the local bookstore or newsagent to get close - with a blog for each of the major areas (backpacking, cruise, VFR, adventure, romantic, gay & lesbian etc...).

This is why UGC is so fantastic because each viewer/user/reader can find the other viewers/users/readers with the same interests without having to wait for the journalist to get round to it.

I like the look of the blog and I enjoyed this little piece on Venice but Travelocity should be spending its blogging time and energy helping IgoUgo catch up with Tripadvisor not musing on the fat content of pre-prepared food.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So much to chat about...we wont need to vacation anymore, just read others experiences

Sam Daams said...

Great post; I think you've hit the nail on the head here. The strikethroughs at the top were too funny :) Plus, it's just a couple of years late to be coming out with a general travel blog like this ....

Tim Hughes said...

Sam - thanks for the feedback.