Key to ensuring UGC works well at the functional level
Social Media Strategies Travel 2008 Special Considering the buzz around Travel 2.0, it is critical to assess where such sites are headed in the next year or so.
Published: 06 Mar 2008
Social Media Strategies Travel 2008 Special
Considering the buzz around Travel 2.0, it is critical to assess where such sites are headed in the next year or so.
Is there going to be opening of the major social networks to third party application developers which will enable Travel 2.0 companies to add travel planning applications with built-in relevancy within those social networking sites?
Sharing his viewpoint, Ken Leeder, Founder and CEO, Real Travel Inc. told EyeforTravel.com's Ritesh Gupta: "It is going to be interesting to see how applications within the social networks develop. The key question in my mind is that of intent. People come to the RealTravel site with the intention of planning a trip. When people interact with FaceBook their primary intention is to interact with their friends. However, it is still very early in the development cycle of FaceBook and other social network applications and this is certainly an area that RealTravel will continue to explore."
Some executives expect the social networks to allow this relevancy or social graph to be exported and embedded into other sites, too. Regarding the same, Leeder, a speaker during Social Media Strategies Travel 2008 Conference in San Francisco, said, "The key question in my mind is how will consumers react to this sort of information sharing. If consumers are not asked, how will they feel about it? If consumers are asked, what is the value proposition for them to allow this sort of information to be shared?"
From content perspective, few of the players feel that user-generated content works well on the visceral or emotional level. However, it doesn't work so well at the functional level. Keeping this in mind, how are UGC sites delivering in terms of search strategy, technology, website design and rich media content?
On this, he said, "We have found that UGC actually works well at the functional level provided that you combine it with editorial and authoritative content. This approach has enabled us to provide a 2x ROI to our advertising partners." He added, "We have found that to be truly effective user generated content needs to be combined with editorial and authoritative content. This approach has enabled us to deliver positive ROI to our advertising partners."
Assessing the progress made by RealTravel last year, Leeder said, "RealTravel made excellent progress in 2007. This past year, we helped close to six million people plan trips with advice from other travelers while delivering a 2x ROI to our advertising partners. We also released the first phase of our new trip planning tools which are supported by internal databases that cover hundreds of thousands of points of interest in 27,000 destinations. 2008 should be a very exciting year for RealTravel as we continue to accelerate our growth."