Delve Research

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.

Delve Research

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, 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 other sites.

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, research delve, research shows.