Friday, October 10, 2008

BA opens highlife website. Good start. But much more needed

Read in newmediaage that British Airways has launched a dedicated content website - - based on the years and years (35) of content from their inflight magazine highlife. This is a great move by BA. Other than the website architecture and support this is a very low cost means for BA to generate organic traffic from travel searches. Assuming they have indexed the content properly (and from my initial glances it looks like they have) they will also be able to generate traffic outside of pure traveller review searches (ie in sport, entertainment etc). Good move by BA.

But the launch here is still a dramatic under-utlisation of a enourmous amount of good quality editorial content. Once a consumer lands on a article/page at this is what they can do with it:
  • read it;
  • email it; or
  • bookmark it.
That is it. If BA wants to make the most out of this then the customer should be able to:
  • Share: share with social networking site (digg, facebook, reddit);
  • Comment: make comments, join in a conversation about the article;
  • Find more: find other related content selected by consumers, from the same author, about the same destination;
  • Save: save favourite stories on a profile page or trip plan page;
  • Use: use all information gather to build up a trip plan; and
  • Book: have contextual links to relevant trip itineraries.
In other words build an interaction and community service that drives brand and bookings rather than a news service that adds a little bit of traffic and ad sales rev.

Good start. More needed.


Dave said...

Is it not a little too much to expect an old school airline like BA to execute a web strategy well and leverage off what looks to be a good chunk of quality content?

For a good looking site, I was amazed not to see a contextual ad at the end of an article inviting me to book a flight/package/experience to the destination I had just read about.

Or maybe some bean counter in London knows more than the meta-seachers do and thinks there is more revenue in car rental ads than sending traffic to their own booking pages.

I shouldn't complain though, continued below par web strategy from the legacy boys & girls makes competition easier for the rest of us!

Tim O'Neill said...

Thanks Tim for the fair critique of High Life (and Dave, for your comments).

Some of the features you suggest are actually there, but perhaps need to be made more clear.

Sharing is there, under the (badly named!) 'Email or bookmark this article' button. We'll change this.

Related content is available based on author, tags, article type or country. In hindsight, these may be better consolidated under the article, currently they are sprinkled around the page.

Your other suggestions (comments, save, book) are all great ideas and considerations for "Phase 2", of course this site will continue to develop and improve over time.

Thanks again for your feedback, we're taking notes.

Tim O'Neill, UK MD, Reactive (developers of the site).

Anonymous said...

British Airways (BA) is to expand its range of non liquor and tobacco products for online sale to UK internet customers, irrespective of whether they are flying or not.

BA plans to pay the VAT on customers' purchases - as it does today - and it also plans to have products delivered to customers'homes within days. The decision to expand the offering comes after a trial period following the relaunch of the Highlife Shop! Internet site. Richard Cushing, British Airways' Retail Business Manager, Inflight Services told TREND earlier this year that the exercise had been "a huge success".

BA now plans to add to the 350-plus products it currently offers and Cushing is quoted in The Times today as saying that BA will offer good quality products and quality prices. He also told the newspaper that travel essentials such as pillows and eye masks would also be for sale.

Cushing told TREND earlier this year that BA's traditional inflight sales programme was "in line with expectations" last year after adjustments for the strong dollar and a downturn in tobacco sales. The current best selling categories onboard BA are skincare, jewellery and electronics and Cushing told TREND that there has been “a great deal of innovation in 2007” in these areas.

BA is currently ranked number two in the world for traditional inflight sales behind Korean Air which claims a $200m sales turnover in 2007.

It has to be said that BA's new mail order website also looks pretty good ( and navigates quickly and efficiently. As reported by our sister magazine The Travel Retail Business, this site contains five good reasons to shop online which include the airline paying the VAT; shopping from your armchair; exclusive products; ‘top brands at your fingertips’ and free postage and packing on orders over £50 ($100). That the airline has also secured the agreement of many, many big brand name suppliers to sell their goods on this site is also testimony to its reputation and the trust suppliers have in it.

The site includes sections featuring fragrances, beauty, jewellery, watches, sunglasses, accessories, gadgets and electricals, kid's gifts, confectionery and spirits and tobacco. It also offers BA collectibles, pre-travel essentials; premium collection and special offers.

As reported already, in the premium collection you can even buy an Aspinal English Bridle Leather Weekender bag for £300 ($600) or a £750 ($1,501) Georg Jensen Interlocking Heart pendant.

Within its terms and conditions BA says it will also consider orders from outside the UK on a one-to-one basis. It says this vetting is necessary since there are differing rules and import duties to consider in some locations.

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