March 12, 2008

Here or There - Are we there yet?

The PhoCusWright@ITB Bloggers summit gave bloggers exclusive press time with a number of travel industry executives. Hugo Burge, Vice-Chairman & Head of International at CheapFlights was one of the presenters at the bloggers briefings. He was talking about a new 'experience inspiration' tool that he is working on as a side project, Here or There.

This new site is focused on travel experience sharing as opposed to travel transportation and accommodation selling. This reminds me of the 4 steps that Joe Buhler identified (Dream, Learn, Plan, Go) in my Expert Interview, and it is good to see more focus on the dream stage in travel preparation.

His site monetizes itself with 'targeted' Google ads, and currently does not send any referrals to travel suppliers. Hugo believes that "Pay per click is the new commission." It is hard to argue with his success, but with many sites starting to combine all of the steps in the travel planning process (Isango sort of comes to mind) and with the never ending increase in niche and fragmented communities, it seems like a challenge to force people to utilize even more sites and tools, when there is the potential to facilitate the entire booking process in one site.

If Hugo was to add some top level tabs that isolate the various steps in the booking process, giving each a distinctive look and feel, I am sure that customers would be receptive to take all of their dreaming into the next step towards booking their trip. What do you think?

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