The 10 most influential people in the online travel industry

24 09 2006

The english media portal Travolution* has gathered the votes and opinions of its readers (I haven’t had time to cast my vote) to finally released a list of the 10 most influential people in the online travel industry over the past decade (tough job!).

“The final 10 is, we believe, a collection of the finest thinkers and strategists since 1996, and sometimes those just simply brave enough to try to break new ground.”

Here are 5 people selected from the list of the 10 most influential people:

  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google

If you want to know who else appear on the list and WHY they appear in that list, Travolution provides an analisys/rationale.

Pierre Chappaz (and Dominique Vidal Kelkoo) did not make it to the final ranking of the 10 most influential person but was present among the 20 most influential people; see the others on Travolution.
The next big question is: Who will remain in the list in 2016? Will Google not only influence but play a more determinant role in the travel industry in the future?

Do you agree/disagree with this ranking? Have a read at the analysis page and make a comment.
* “Travolution is a new media brand for the online travel industry, from the publishers of Gazetteers Plus & Travel Weekly. It is packed with research, news and analysis on everything to do with selling, deploying and marketing travel on the web.”

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Click-to-call provider eStara acquired by ATG

20 09 2006

ARTGeStara logo I mentioned eStara in a recent post when talking about the click-to-call features of Yahoo (and Google); eStara has been acquired yesterday by ATG (NASDAQ: ARTG), a leading provider of e-commerce platforms.

Buying eStara (which provides Click to Call, Click to Chat, and Call Tracking Solutions) will enhance ATG Market-leading e-commerce offerings and will expands ATG’s OnDemand Business.

Among the numerous clients of eStara, we can name Starwood Hotels and Continental Airlines. Talking about eStara clients, I just realized yesterday that eStara provides now its click-to-call technology to the french Yellow Pages (http://www.pagesjaunes.fr). Here is a capture of the features on their pages:

Pages Jaune Click-to-call eStara

Art Technology Group (ATG) provides solutions to many actors of the travel industry, like American Airlines and Intercontinental Hotels. We will most likely see Intercontinental Hotels website with eStara features in the future.

See the press release on eStara website and some explanations of this stock and cash merger transaction between those 2 industry leaders, transaction is valued to approximately $48.3 million.
PS: Thank you Daniel for notifying me about this acquisition.

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RyanAir nightmare at a poor promotional event in Barcelona!

18 09 2006

The ireland based company Ryan Air decided to organize a promotional event giving away free round flight tickets (17€ with taxes ) to people waving banners displaying messages against the spanish airline Iberia on the famous place called Plaza Cataluña in the city center of Barcelona.

‘With this initiative we wanted people to see for themselves that flying with Ryanair is much better than flying with Iberia,’ said Ryanair’s executive for marketing and sales in Spain.

Manifestantes reunidos por Ryanair en Barcelona300 people were present, but unfortunately when RyanAir staff ran out of flight claim forms to distribute, the promotional event turned out to be a nightmare for RyanAir. Indeed people started protesting against the staff, complaining that they complied with all the requisites and thus that they were honestly eligible for their tickets. Local police rescued RyanAir staff in a local police station and people started changing the name Iberia on their anti-Iberia banners for RyanAir!

Throughout the day, RyanAir hurried-up to offer their apologies and announced that they will distribute 1,000 more tickets.

RyanAir organised this event without any previous notice to the local institutions, and will finally have to respond for false advertising as many of the unlucky persons present at the event went to the police station to file an official complaint against RyanAir.

Iberia replied and stated that ‘it showed how little confidence this company must have in their own service if they have to attract customers in this way.’

Sources:

http://vueltaalmundo.blogspot.com/2006/09/vuelos-gratis-con-ryanair_05.html

http://www.barcelonareporter.com/index.php/news/comments/tables_turned_on_ryanair_during_publicity_stunt_against_iberia_in_barcelona/

http://www.lavanguardia.es/gen/20060904/51281933415/noticias/ryanair-pide-disculpas-y-ofrece-otros-mil-nuevos-billetes-gratis-barcelona-iberia-consumidores-clickair-girona-mossos-milan.html

http://www.elpais.es/articulo/economia/Boicot/Barcelona/campana/promocional/Ryanair/elpporeco/20060904elpepueco_6/Tes/

Photo: REUTERS

Update: RyanAir Spain did not say if it was linked or not to this event but they just announced the replacement of their marketing and sales director for Maribel Rodriguez, who is the former marketing director of GB Airways for Spain and Portugal.

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Small Luxury Hotel of the World needs mystery shoppers!

8 09 2006

Who never dreamt of working as a mystery shopper for a luxury hotel chain?
Good news, your dreams might come true if you follow this link reported by Usatoday’s blog “Hotel hotsheet“.

Small Luxury Hotel of the Word (SLH) needs about 200 volunteers; the perfect job applicant should be a “discerning, experienced” traveler familiar with high-class hotels”. Volunteers must pay their own transportation (it will hopefully help them to get a little bit more objective in their reports!), but get reimbursed for one or two-night stays, plus meals and drinks. They will check-in anonymously, inspect the hotel in secret and report to the hotel chain.

“As far as the hotel is concerned, this means that every hotel guest is a potential inspector,” commented Paul Kerr, Joint Managing Director of Small Luxury Hotels of the world.

Interested? Then fill out the job application right here and … enjoy your stay!

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Google will add a click-to-call feature to its ad program

6 09 2006

I can already hear some of you saying, “Google did not invent anything launching a click-to-call feature on the internet. That’s true, Google is not innovating there BUT how many hotel’s official sites offer this type of feature for their users? Not a lot, although there are companies that already propose this type of (great) services.

Basically it consists of placing a button on a webpage to allow the internet user to be called back for free immediately. The technology being involved is VoIP (Voice over IP).

Let’s take a concrete example: Imagine you are confused with the cancellation policy of a hotel just before you validate your booking online. You will probably stop the process until you have a clearer idea of the policy (or maybe you will book somewhere else). Now imagine you find a button on this page saying that if you provide your phone number (that will remain private) you will get an immediate phone call from the hotel to support you for free..

I like the way new technologies influence the hotel industry (travel industry in general) but I clearly think that a mix of those new technologies backed up with a good old phone call simply does the trick.

Click-to-callNow let’s return to the main subject; Google has launched a Click2call feature for its advertising program. It will add a small telephone icon to the ads and will connect you with the company that advertises on google. Not a revolutionary feature since Miva already created this type of feature for its ads program (see a good demo here), but considering that Google benefit from an incredible online buzz, and since I never mentioned (on this site) this kind of features then it is the right time for me to cover the topic and spread the word.

Click-to-call

If you want to try a live demo of google Click-to-call, it is currently being tested in the UK see this basic faq. (if not living in the UK just add a proxy address located in the UK to your Internet Explorer properties and type “artisan hotel” on google.co.uk).

By the way Skype (now belonging to Ebay) powers this feature; concerning Yahoo UK, it has launched in Europe its click-to-call feature in August powered by eStara.

Source of the pictures:
http://davideichholtzer.blog.lemonde.fr/davideichholtzer/2006/09/clicktocall_goo.html

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