Monday, October 26, 2009

Long Tail and travel - Chris Anderson shows data

I am sure the timing is a complete fluke but two weeks after I published my first challenge to Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory in my post EveryYou: Individuation and going beyond the Long Tail theory he published a post on seekingAlpha called the Long Tail of Travel. In this post he carries some search data analysis that says that over time the top 50 destinations out for the UK have fallen from 36% of the total destinations in travelled by air 1998 to 26% in 2008 driven by low cost carriers, consumer demand and more. He has based this on data from the UK CAA. His post contains a graph and link to the data.

I have no doubt that searches for body and tail destinations are up and growing but we need more that just the Long Tail theory to allow demand for the tail to be unconstrained. We need targeting, recommending and discovery tools that allow consumers to find things they did not know they wanted to know about and trust the answers they get. [Broken record time] we need to use the technology and social changes made available to generated individuated search responses to open ended web queries.


Dan G. said...

Absolutely agree and Chris covers this in his original description of the Long Tail - Rule 3: Help me find it (after rules 1 and 2, "make everything available" and "lower the price. now half it," respectively)

"For instance, the front screen of Rhapsody features Britney Spears, unsurprisingly. Next to the listings of her work is a box of "similar artists." Among them is Pink. If you click on that and are pleased with what you hear, you may do the same for Pink's similar artists, which include No Doubt. And on No Doubt's page, the list includes a few "followers" and "influencers," the last of which includes the Selecter, a 1980s ska band from Coventry, England. In three clicks, Rhapsody may have enticed a Britney Spears fan to try an album that can hardly be found in a record store.

Rhapsody does this with a combination of human editors and genre guides. But Netflix, where 60 percent of rentals come from recommendations, and Amazon do this with collaborative filtering, which uses the browsing and purchasing patterns of users to guide those who follow them ("Customers who bought this also bought ..."). In each, the aim is the same: Use recommendations to drive demand down the Long Tail."

Tim Hughes said...

@Dan G - great comment and reply. Thank you. The place where my thinking is different to rule 3 of the long tail is the difference between "help me find" and "recommend". If we truly want to unleash demand for niche/tail product then I don't think it is enough for them to be available, cheap and able to be found. With the technology we now have and the data that we collect and are given by consumers it is time for a new rule three - "make a recommendation that is targeted at the individual".