Lights, camera, sell a holiday! Google's research into online travel buying

Google’s travel team in the United States has just posted a recording of their travel research webinar from earlier this month. YouTube: Research Road Trip: A Traveler’s Road to Decision. The sound quality is terrible: it sounds as if contractors are working overhead. But there are nuggets for anyone interested in online travel buying behaviour across the pond. We can hardly be surprised online video is gaining influence with 15%  using video as part of their trip planning process, mostly via YouTube. Interestingly, consumers trust both professional and user content with “videos made by people like me” rating 59% on the trustworthiness scale compared to 47% for professional clips uploaded by travel firms. Google travel’s recommendation is to think about adding video to your efforts. Mine is more specific: set up a channel on YouTube, populate it with good quality video and establish programmes with suitable awards to encourage customers to upload their own. And by the way, it’s not just about sealing sales: customers are still gleaning information/inspiration even after they have booked their holiday.

Cunard upgrades a blogger for the QE2's final crossing

I love this kind of story. Media consultant and journalism professor Juan Antonio Giner writes the Innovations in Newspapers blog. He is also a fan of the QE2 (he certainly is now). When he booked a berth on the final Atlantic crossing, he decided to set up a blog to chart its passage. Good idea? He thought so and pitched the plan to several newspaper editors he knew over martini lunches. They didn’t bite, not interested, choked over their olives at the very thought, but Juan Antonio has had the last laugh. His ship’s blog, QE2:The Last Crossing has scored such good page views he has discovered the modest riches to be reaped from Adsense and, get this, Cunard were so pleased with his idea, they have granted him an upgrade to a top suite. The QE2 casts off later today with Juan Antonio blogging from the best club chair in the lounge. “Another martini, sir?”

BA's Highlife takes off without its passengers

I really like the look and feel of the new online version of Highlife, BA’s inflight magazine. Cedar and Reactive have done a stellar job. But where is the community? Where is the voice of the passenger? Where is the slightest sensation that this is anything more than a glossy magazine reworked in html and some lovely jpegs? Tim Hughes asks the same questions today over at The Business of Online Travel. To be honest, I can hardly feign surprise as I went to a meeting with BA at Cedar last year and brought up some of these same thoughts. There is a great opportunity here to engage with passengers but it looks like it has been booted into touch. I haven’t been privy to recent process but judging from that meeting, the chances of BA giving the public any kind of platform on the airline’s online property are pretty slim.