Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WebInTravel: Come see the BOOT at WebInTravel Singapore Oct 19 -22

It is not too late to book your ticket to join the BOOT and hundreds of others travel professionals at WebInTravel in Singapore (alongside ITB Asia) October 19-22. The full schedule for the event is here. Registration details here.

There is a lot of the BOOT to see at this conference. For BOOT specific sessions, I will be presenting as follows

Presentation Number 1

First up I will present and the pre-conference WITovation Entrepreneur Bootcamp at the LKC School of Business on Oct 18. I am in a session moderated by Tnooz editor Kevin May called

1130am Innovation Exchange: What's hot and what's not, what's working and what's not, and what's coming round the corner. Experts pick out the current tools and technology that are changing the landscape and predict the ones to come. On the panel are

  • Andrew McGlinchey, Head of Product Management, Southeast Asia, Google South East Asia
  • Brett Henry, Vice-President, Marketing, Abacus International
  • Timothy O' Neil-Dunne, CTO, Lute Technologies and blogger
  • Ross Veitch, Chief Product Officer, Wego

Presentation Number 2

On Oct 19 at Suntec I am on the opening panel with joint moderators conference organiser Yeoh Siew Hoon and Tnooz's Kevin May.

845am Hitting The C-Spot: Cross-Fire: Two teams will compete against each other to come up with the best customer insights that they believe will drive change in travel distribution and marketing.

Team 1 is
Team 2 is
  • The BOOT
  • Timothy O'Neil-Dunne, CTO, Lute Technologies & Blogger, Professor Sabena
  • Brett Henry, Vice President, Marketing, Abacus International
Presentation Number 3

Later on the 19th I am leading a panel.

3pm Channelling The Customer: Bridging The Chasm Between Inspiration & Transaction

Three part session.

For the opening 10 minutes I will present on new opportunities in search, inspiration and consumer engagement. Carl Griffith of Cloud View will follow with 5 minutes on "What the Consumer Wants". Then we have 35 minutes of Q&A with some of the best in online travel and search

  • Martin Symes, CEO, Wego
  • Sajith Sivanandan, Head of Travel, Retail & Automotive, Google South East Asia
  • Olivier Dombey, Chief Information Officer,
  • Wee Hee Ling, CEO, Commonwealth Tourism Holdings
  • Hrush Bhatt, Founder & Director, Cleartrip/Small World
  • Josh Steinitz, CEO, NileGuide
  • Mark Inkster, Managing Director, Search Alliance, Microsoft
Here is a hint of some of the questions I will put to the panel
  • Can tradditional search adjust to responding to open ended questions?
  • Sociograph vs Tastegraph - what role will they play in any search evolution/revolution. Which one will win? Or Both? How?
  • Yen Lee of review meta-search site Uptake wrote a post "meta-search is done!long live meta-search" . In it he argued that traditional priced based meta-search was in real trouble because the business model of arbitrage between buying traffic off Google at one price and selling that same traffic to suppliers/OTAs at another price was not sustainable. What do you think? Has the cost of paid search irrevocably changed meta-search?
  • Paid search on head terms is so expensive that it is arguable that search is not longer a direct response media but a brand building form of media. Is that true or is there still direct response money to be made in search?
  • You are a hotel in a major Asian city (Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Bangkok). You are in a great location, have good reviews on social sites, are competitively priced and have great website. But when someone types in "hotels in [city]" into Google you are on page 4. Not surprising given that there are 500,000+ results on Google for that search term. What do you do as this hotel to get anywhere near page 1? Or do you give up on page 1 dreams and turn online marketing activity to somewhere else?
And more....

Presentation Number 4

On Oct 22 at Suntec I will be joining one of the WIT Ideas Lab sessions.

09.45 Social Media, Search, Mobile & Stuff: insights about Social Media, Search & other stuff that the Web is made up of.
  • The BOOT
  • Morris Sim, CEO & Co-Founder, Circos Brand Karma
  • Brett Henry, Vice-President, Marketing and Vice-President, India, Abacus International
Four sessions, more live BOOT than ever before.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Media Watch: the Australian puts a "c" in Webjet

Quick media watch moment his morning. Front page of the business section of the online version of the Australian newspaper contains a piece speculating on Fairfax media (owner of newspapers that compete with the Australian) might be considering a move on Webjet (#1 online air agency in Australia). Unfortunately the front page sub-editor has stuck a "c" in Webjet and is running the headline "Fairfax had Webject on board" linking to story headlined "Fairfax held Webject stake last year". Second photo below and full story here.

PS- as regular readers know I am probably the last person who should be pointing out typos.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tnooz: the future of search is multi-destinational and multi-dimensional

Tnooz is one year old. My latest 1000+ word piece is live called "Google Instant is just the beginning in the search revolution in travel"

In this post I discuss the history and future of search and the role Google Instant is playing. I propose a future that has search being based on more than one destination site (multi-destinational) and more than one way to measure authority and trusted content (multi-dimensional).

check out the full post here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Virgin Blue starts brand review - why not rebrand Ansett?

News out that Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti has brought on long term collaborator Hans Hulsbosch to help with a brand review for Virgin Blue.

Hulsbosch previously helped Qantas with their brand review though I think the minimal changes of lengthening the Roo tail and slanting the acronym is more of a tweak than a review.

From press reports it looks like nothing is off the table including scrapping the use of the world "Virgin". Given the current DJ product and announced plans for it, I recommend DJ drop the Virgin brand, write a cheque to administrators KordaMentha and re-brand the whole business Ansett.

I am being facetious of course but there is some rational thinking behind this. Below is a table comparing the Ansett of 2001 with the Virgin Blue product of the same year and of 2010

My point is that as Virgin Blue chases more and more of the Qantas business (aiming to increase corporate share from 5% to 20%) it is getting closer and closer to the Ansett business model and further and further away for what made it a success. From the table you can see that the edgy brand and free food are the last pieces differentiating DJ from Ansett. They need to be very careful in this process that DJ do not end up catching just enough of Qantas share to lose what built their brand and suffer the same fate as Ansett.

PS: for those that don't know Ansett was the long term Star Alliance full service competitor of Qantas that went bust in 2001 after (but not caused by) Sept 11. Virgin Blue launched in August 2000

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Stories from TRAVELtech: contemplating the parallel inter-verse

I was at TRAVELtech last week wondering if there is a parallel universe on the internet (inter-verse) that I am not part of. In the Internet that I live in the following rules apply:
  • Search: Not all my searches start on Google;
  • Starting: Portals are not a starting point but might be a destination (ie Yahoo Finance);
  • Creating: I am creating more and more content very day – but writing less and less on my blog;
  • Reading: Newspaper sites are fading from view in favour of RSS and news aggregators; and
  • Accessing: I am accessing the internet all over place – via my computer, my Apple TV, my Xbox, my blackberry and more.

Three presentations at TRAVELtech reminded me that many people online who do not adhere to these rules and therefore exist in a parallel inter-verse:

  • Mark Higginson of Neilsen Online reminded me that a third of Internet users do not use social networks. For these users (and there are a lot of them) the Internet is not a place for inspiration or interaction. It is a functional place. A place to consume content, check details and make purchases. A place to do things and find things out, not to engage, share and...well... just hang out;
  • Rohan Lund of Yahoo!7 says that Yahoo! is continuing to expand world-wide as a place for people to start on the Internet. That the portal is still as strong and steady starting point on the Internet for hundreds of millions of users; and
  • Warren Livingstone (founder of the Fanatics) proved that the secret to community was tents more than tweets. That communities did not need social media that much to grow and foster.

The obvious question upon re-discovering the parallel inter-verse is whether or not it is a place in itself or is it just a staging area. Is it a place where newer users start their internet experience – only to soon progress to the "real" Internet or do these users stay in the functional and controlled parallel inter-verse that is about more than outcomes that experience?

The reason why this is important to think about is that if the parallel inter-verse is a permanent place rather than a staging area then online travel companies need to plan for a different future. I keep talking about a future for online travel around moving from transaction engines to recommendation engines. Around helping consumers move from answering closed questions ("how much for a hotel in Melbourne?") to open ones ("where do I go next?"). A future where some combination of the tastegraph and sociograph combine to make online social interaction as (if not more) rewarding than off. If the functionally focused parallel inter-verse is a permanent place then there is more than one future. A long term functional internet means product people spending time on retail efficiency and on site content products rather than recommendations and syndication. It means more off-line marketing and brand based marketing. It will mean more in website design and less in apps, social media and under the hood data work. My guess is the parallel inter-verse is temporary. That functional only internet use will fade away to be replaced by rules like my rules. What do you think? Is there a parallel inter-verse (or I am making stuff up) and do we have to rewrite the future of the online travel business to take account?

BTW - thanks to Brianam on Flickr for the photo. The context behind the sign (which he says is real) is that Universe St was closed and traffic was being diverted to Rainbow st.