Tuesday, January 16, 2007

AsiaTravelMarket - Even in comparative shopping brand is important

Announcement today in Travelmole of the site AsiaTravelMarket coming out of stealth mode. They provide inbound to Asia comparative shopping services ex-UK. I don't like the front page as it provides too many options. Travel sites work best with a booking engine/widget on the home page as this provides an obvious first action for a customer, minimizing confusion and lost traffic. However I had a play with a search for Heathrow to Bangkok - the engine was fast and the results looked good.

They will need two things to compete with with more established comparative shopping players (Sidestep, Kayak and to a lesser extent Bezurk in Asia).

First they need some more content deals. The search I conducted did not have results from either Travelocity (or lastminute) or Expedia. Online shoppers that are experienced enough to use a comparative shopping engine will know to check one of both of those players. If you do not have them in an ex-UK devoted comparative shopping play then customers are less likely to trust the results.

Secondly they need a new name. AsiaTravelMarket sounds like a good idea as it is a clean description of what they do. But there already exists an Asiatravel.com and an AsiaTravelMart.com. Each has their problems and issues but each has been around since the beginning (ie the first boom). Additionally AsiaTravelTips have been around for a long time providing industry information (well press release delivery at least) and hotel booking capability. Even though comparative shopping engines feed off the content and to an extent brand of other players they need to build their own brand as well. AsiaTravelMarket will struggle to secure brand recognition when a Google search for "asiatravel" is guaranteed to favour these older players. I know it is a tough recommendation to receive when you have just come out of stealth but maybe this is also the best time. Reminds me - I must secure the domain names AsiaTravelMarketStore.com, AsiaTravelMarketStoreShopper.com and AsiaTravelMarketStoreShopperSite.com before anyone else does....

5 comments:

Craig Hewett said...

Hi Tim,

I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of Global Travel Market (parent name for AsiaTravelMarket) over lunch late last, they have taken a very different approach to meta search - they are focusing on destinations with www.australiatravelmarket.com and more to come. They are focused on rich destination content and are working closely with destination organisations like Australia Tourist Commission.

They have a good small team who come from both retail travel and ATC (so strong experience in destination marketing)

The founder can also drink a beer – so he gets my vote and support

By the way Tim, you have mis spelt “two” as “too” in your post

Travolution Blogger said...

they also have an interesting partnership with Lonely Planet.

Dave Simmons said...

Tim,

I welcome your feedback on the launch of the new destination based travel search engine www,asiatravelmarket.com(ATM).

Global Travel Market (GTM) has taken a very different approach to the meta search space. We had no intention to compete directly with the larger more established brands that you refer to.

Instead, we have decided to focus on developing destination based platforms that enable us to add greater value to the user through both providing rich destination content as well as a significantly broader range of product - take a look at our Australian site as an example (http//www.australiatravelmarket.com) and you you will find over 3,000 different accomodation and attraction products - more than any of our larger competitors could dream of. I can gaurantee you that you will not find farmstay type product on the other meta search engines. You may deem this to be unimportant, however this is the sort of experiential type product that consumers are now seeking to experience.

Whilst I also understand your comments regards the 'brand', I think it is also important to understand the reasons as to why I believe it will work. From my experience of selling holidays for the last ten years, in my view consumers tend to 'buy' the destination first (i.e. "this year I think we will go to Australia"). They then turn their attention to how they are going to book their holiday. By creating destination based platforms, we are able to place ourselves very high up the purchase process. Whilst we are still in the early stages of the business development, we are already beginning to see evidence that this strategy is working. I guess the key evidence to support the brand strategy is the rapidly growing numbers of visitors to our sites in the UK, China (and soon to be India).

Another key business differentiator that GTM has identified as being a core business strategy is our commitment to limiting the number of consolidators on the GTM flight search engine. Again, experience both of consumer purchasing and being a commercial partner of flight search engines suggests that too much choice is a bad thing. Consumers need to feel like they are seeing a good sample of the market, but do not want to see hundreds of listings as this simply serves to confuse. From a commercial partner perspective it is reasonably obvious that the more and more competitors that are put onto a site simply serves to dilute the value of the partnership between the search engine and the commercial partner.

We aim to provide the consumer with a broad choice of leading and niche flight brands. With the likes of Ebookers, Opodo, Thomas Cook, Travelbag and STA in the UK, I believe we are providing the consumer with a good range of very competitive agencies. Expedia obviously have their reasons for not engaging with Meta Search platforms, however anyone who does a comparitive search with Expedia will typically find that they are more expensive anyway. Regards Travelocity, I would argue that the likes of Ebookers, Thomas Cook and STA have far greater brand value amongst UK consumers than Travelocity does.

Time will tell whether the strategy is right, however early signs are very encouraging.

Regards
Dave Simmons
CEO
GTM

Anonymous said...

Take also a look to a search engine called Trabber - www.trabber.com

Nice web 2.0 implementation.

Tim Hughes said...

Thanks Craig and Dave - here is a new post with further comments from me and Dave coming out a call we did recently here