Travel Industry Gets Chance to Delve into Research
Over the last 12 years into which
our reports delve, research shows the Internet has completely transformed how
travel is bought and sold. The Internet itself has also undergone
transformation. The initial iteration of the Internet, now referred to as Web
1.0, was the mapping of conventional media and commercial models to the new
Internet channel. Webmasters published content just like newspaper and
magazine publishers. Retailers sold their products online, just as they did in
their stores. And surfers (remember that term?) would seek information on
search engines and consume content.
Enter Web 2.0 and the emergence
of the social Web. The emphasis in the online experience began to shift from
selling, searching, and consuming to creating, connecting and exchanging.
Surfers and consumers have become generators, collaborators and commentators.
The one-to-many publishing model has given way to many-to-many and one-to-one.
There is no better example of how
the Web has changed than to look at how the ranks of the 10 most visited Web
sites have shifted from 2004 to 2009, into which these paragraphs delve,
research shows that while several big names remain the same (Google, Yahoo!,
Microsoft, AOL, Amazon, eBay), there are some very big differences. Who is out
in 2009? Search engines, portals and content publishers (Ask Jeeves, Terra
Lycos, About.com and Monster). Who is new? Social networks (MySpace and
Facebook), video sharing (YouTube) and the collaborative online encyclopedia (Wikipedia).
The Web properties that remained in the top 10 have changed
remarkably in five years – they have become much more social. Customer product
reviews have become a central feature on Amazon, as has the Amazon Marketplace
which enables consumers to also become retailers. Google now actively
aggregates and solicits user reviews not only on hotels, restaurants and
activities, but also on a whole range of local services from day care to
doctors. Yahoo! as well has introduced social services, from user reviews and
the Flickr photo-sharing site to the more recent mashup homepage model that
enables users to integrate content from their profiles with social networks and
Travel is inherently social: 80% of U.S. travelers say travel
creates experiences that they inherently enjoy discussing.1 The
impact of online social content on travel has indeed been enormous, but is difficult
to quantify. Some social content, such as traveler reviews and photos, are
hugely influential. But the role of other forms of social media, such as social
networking, blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter, remains an evolving and often
elusive opportunity for travel marketers – and into Twitter they delve,