Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The power of advice and recommendation

Amadeus has received approval for its acquisition of 85 people strong, German based Traveltainment. Amadeus have been promoting Traveltainment services in Germany since 2004 so this has not come out of the blue. I have not seen Traveltainment in action but it is claimed that as well as providing an IBE they have a recommendation/advisory capability that works well in the German leisure market. Expedia has also been using Traveltainment at it's DE and AT sites.

Advice and recommendation is a core part of the success in the general web market of social networking. For example I have been having a great time learning about new music and artists through streaming radio station and social network It develops personal and artist based streaming radio stations based on the listening patterns of all users. The community decides what to recommend to you, not an algorithm or computer. For example I am a big fan of both Stevie Wonder and Black Crowes - artists that do not have much in common. Through I have discovered others that have similar tastes and have been recommended songs that fans of both like. The big competitor Pandora on the other hand looks to music analysts to cut a song and artist into hundreds of "genetic" identifiers to help automatically create recommendations list. Both result in automated recommendations that work. Tripadvisor has been trying to do this for travel through access to an enormous quantity of user reviews and submissions and its new wiki service however has a lot to do before it can automated recommendations as a result.

As I say - do not know if Traveltainment uses tech or community to generate recommendations (though suspect it is tech) but believe that this is the time when the combination of technology and social media have made reliable automated recommendation services a viable - maybe necessary - product in online travel.

Update 15 April 08 - TravelTainment is now the basis for a new Leisure focused division of Amadeus. The group has a cumbersome name "TravelTainment – The Amadeus Leisure Group". According to the press release it will be the "the only multi-market, multi-channel, community distribution system for selling leisure content of all types" (sure, ok, nice, what does that mean). Ralf Usbeck will be the boss/CEO.

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