Kango is targeting the tail through meta-search for review content. As per my Interview with founder Yen Lee here Kango have built a review meta-search business. Modifying business models of the meta-search booking sites like the combined Kayak/Sidestep, Kango has built an aggregation engine for reviews from a multitude of sites. It takes time to put together (hence the beta is only on two destinations - California and Hawaii) but Yen has been able to raise a lot of money and is working on balance between building search architecture and attracting content. UPDATE - Kango now called UpTake.
While Kango is looking to index content on a grand scale, I am constantly coming across or being approached by deeply targeted local content players. 71 miles covers weekend trips in a small part of Northern California. Volcanoetna.com covers - as the name implies - tours and travels around Sicily's famous Volcano Etna. While covering completely different parts of the world and travel experiences, Adam Rugel's 71 miles and Enrico Forte's Volcanoetna are at the longest point of the long tail - focused on detailed and informed content in a very specific location. The pluses for them is that the long tail loves targeted and specific. Nothing brings long tail traffic better than detailed, focused and informed content. The problem is scale - a highly targeted site can become the number one place for a specific piece of long tail traffic but you still need a minimum of traffic to generate advertiser interest. Rugel of 71miles admitted to me that traffic was not a problem but monetisation was proving difficult. Local advertisers who should have been interested didn't get it (online that is) and are spending their money in the local newspaper instead (my theory). Better to be part of a network - Rugel said.
So targeted brings the traffic but not the money. Want proof? Four years and GBP7.4 million pounds later and VisitScotland has shut its doors. Hotelmarketing.com has the story - but the short version is not enough traffic to justify and not able to monetise.
This is where Gawker Media's Gridskipper has an advantage of the hyper long tail sites. It has been around long enough and writes on enough material that it generates the long tail traffic. At the same time it has the network effect of the Gawker family (including Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Consumerist and the NSFW Fleshbot). UPDATE - Gridskipper no longer owned by Gawker.
Video is also playing a role in this race for content. Geobeats are trying to build a business around user gen travel videos. Players are racing into this space as well - driven by the phenomenon of youtube. Pixsy is in this space too (including a relationship with Lastminute). Both are following Travelistic (who I first covered here) who (as far as I know, tried to do it first). The advantage of video in this race is that video generates a greater engagement than a text site. They may generate less page views than text but good video sites keep people on the site longer and interested longer - all elements that advertisers love. As GigOM said "Page Views are dead, Engagement named as Heir".
The final style of player is the now ubiquitous social media, social networking and user generated player. There are a lot to chose from here in this post:
- Where Are You Now (WAYN) - the well funded (but not owned by AOL) travel social network. Millions of travellers talking to each other - telling people where they are, what they are doing and what they want to do. An advertisers paradise;
- Guidespot - targeting DIY local guides. Contributors generate traffic and "kudos" (maybe one day revenue sharing) from producing and publishing their own destination guides;
- Localguides.com (profiled here);
- The Sidestep (now Kayak) owned Travelpost - specialists in hotel review infrastructure and traffic. Sidestep bought it and Kayak doent seem to want it but the traffic is flowing; and
- Travelpod - started travel specific blogging and had the hottest Facebook widget (Traveller IQ test) for some time. Again - plenty of traffic off the back of a flood of interactive and interested consumers. Now part of the ever expanding TripAdvisor family.
New players are rushing into this space:
- Vailoma - still in beta- trying to build a community around content and guides UPDATE - Vailoma now called TripSay;
- SimpatiGo - leading with the "classic" map mashup around activity. Trying to drive search and "engagement" through map and neighbourhood based information and search.
1. Content - lots of it
2. Index - a fantastic Google friendly index and expertise in search optimisation
3. Access methods - varying ways and means for consumers to access the content
4. Patience - time (and money) to wait for the traffic to build.
What do you think? Who have I missed?