So here's my list of things I learned today at the Travolution Summit in London

1) The recovery will start next year
Dennis Turner Chief Economist from HSBC said so! (and he should know seeing as HSBC was one of the big banks less exposed to the dodgy toxic mortgages).

2) Low Cost Carrier SouthWest airlines is now a full service airline
It's pursuing a strategy of selling itself as a 'services included' carrier (Low fares... no hidden fees) to distinguish itself from its competitors. Will the low cost model be superceded as travellers tire of paying extra for just about everything? (God I hope so, but I doubt it)

3) Boring is the new cool
Lufthansa UK and Ireland GM Marianne Sammann says sometimes they are called 'boring' because they just focus ondoing the basics as well as they can. Maybe boring is quite a nice characteristic in the current climate? Dependable... trustworthy... not trying to flog you something you don't want?

4) Holiday home rentals is a huge market ripe for a social space
Holiday home rentals company HomeAway is growing fast with 15- 20,000 new properties being added each month. And according to CEO Brian Sharples they just intend to focus on the basics. And there's huge demand for people to exchange information and discuss online. Anyone fancy setting up a social space? Is there one already?

5) Facebook apps can generate huge amounts of UGC
Trip Advisor's restaurant reviews were paltry compared to their hotel reviews until they launched their Local Picks Facebook app. The app generated 10s of thousands of reviews in months. It now provides over 250,000 new pics of restaurants to the Trip Advisor site each month.

6) User Experience is the new marketing
Marko Ahtisaari CEO of Dopplr (and all round smart dude) said several extremely pertinent things. This was my favourite. If ever there's an element of travel websites that needs working on to achieve competitive advantae it's UX. (With quality, unique content a close 2nd?)

7) Keep it simple
The OTA's growing fastest are the ones that are selling the simpler products (ie JUST hotels or JUST flights rather than the complete package). Are people trying too hard to be all things to all people? I think we will see the emergence of niche operators (or niche brands created by bigger players) doing increasing amounts of business by focussing on a specific audience and serving it really really well.

And... one for luck... Twitter is...
I just have to accept it. Personally I think it's a horrible distraction, but the twitter feed (hashtag/ travsummit) was buzzing with stuff all day. Biggest Tw'istake? - BGB PR agency sending all their tweets in one go making it look awfully like they wanted to dominate the conversation. It looked baaaad.

8 thoughts on “Travolution Summit: 7 things I learned today

  1. Hi Jeremy,
    Great List. I for one really enjoyed the summit via twitter.
    Regarding your question in point 4, is there a holiday home rental social space?. There is a popular forum for UK renters at laymyhat.com

  2. Nice commentary, Jeremy. I particularly liked Marko Ahtisaari's comment that travel websites should "innovate by simplifying". Too many sites think they are adding value by putting more stuff on their pages, rather than stripping away what isn't necessary.

  3. @ Rob. How did you find it via Twitter? Was it not super-confusing with so many tweets going on? Fascinating that you then provide your own summary of the event on your site... almost as if you were there!? (you weren't were you?!)http://affiliate4travel.co.uk/2009/04/travolution-summit-twittered.html
    Thanks for the prompt re laymyhat. Will look at that.
    @ Mark. Yep, Marko struck me as the smartest and most interesting speaker there yesterday. Very impressive. I loved his use of the phrase 'engineering serendipity'. Neat. And I completely agree with you re simplifying. As I think you tweeted at one point... there's a tendency to think a site is adding more value by adding more features and functions. But is that always the case? Absolutely not!

  4. Hi Jeremy
    Guilty as charged re our Tweets and many apologies. No mobile reception in the summit room meant they went afterwards when I could get out of the sessions. Big lesson learnt. I wouldn't have dared to try to dominate the conversation in that room.

  5. Great follow up Jeremy, but with regards to the social space for the holiday home market, are you talking about a space for property owners? or one for holiday makers? We are currently working on the latter and are working towards the "innovate by simplifying" ethos.

  6. Thanks for the tip on the Local Tips Facebook app - hadn't known about that. Am registered on Yelp but not really using it. Chowhound has lots of restaurant info, too.

  7. Laymyhat is very good. I'd be interested in setting a social space for self catering/holiday let managers. But, as I run a company in this market, I wonder if I'm the best person to do this? What do you think - should a social space come from a completely unbiased angle? Ideally the property managers themselves?

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