I’ve just spent the last couple of days at the European Travel Distribution Summit 2011. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to discover the latest views on social, search and mobile strategy from some of the top professionals in the industry.

I was lucky enough to speak myself about YouTube best practice, but when not behind the lecturn, I was paying close attention to the latest trends and predictions. These are the summary points that I took away with me:



A video is worth several novels, apparently

– A picture is worth a thousand words? Pah! A video is worth 1.8m words
– Companies creating video content generate more leads & higher conversion rates
– More than 400 tweets per minute contain a YouTube link

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement
– Be more human and emotive in your social media communications
– You must join the conversation. One way activity is so last decade
– Trust your visitors and allow them to add content

– Tablets convert travel sales better than mobile
– Mobile is now where the web was back in 1998, but you need a strategy now
– Growth is staggering: travel search via mobile up 176% YOY

UX – The User Experience
F-commerce – Trading on Facebook
Discovery – The 90s were about ‘browsing’, the 00s about ‘searching’, now it’s ‘discovery’


Do you have a plan for mobile?

‘Social media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. Everyone says they’re doing it. But no one is doing it right’ Nick Gold, Emailvision


People who click on sponsored links are 1.5 times more likely to make a purchase

Measure results, not activity
It’s nice to have a lot of ‘likes’ and comments, but activity in itself is not enough.

Keep travel sites simple
Users don’t have time to learn how to use a travel site as they only visit a few times every year.

Linked In

Users spend 50% more on leisure travel per annum than average

Don’t have ‘online’ specialists in your business
You have to make online an everyday part of your business

1% of the way there?

‘I look forward to seeing how you’re doing in 350 years’ time.’ Dan Robb, Google
(After Facebook claimed that they had only completed 1% of their journey)

A trend I noticed again and again was the suggestion to develop your own ‘on site’ social media. Facebook is important, but you shouldn’t rely on it. Who knows if it will be around in 5 years time? They certainly didn’t convince at this summit that they have a clear strategy for travel.

Travel companies have a tremendous resource – their staff. Get them to Tweet, blog, shoot video and post pictures. Allow your visitors to contribute too. All of this will increase overall browsing time and exposure to your brand.

I found this particularly interesting as the Social Media Module that Skipedia has developed does exactly this and bolts on seamlessly to any existing website.

For more information on TDS 2011, a copy of my presentation on YouTube, or for any online marketing queries, please do contact us. And of course, I look forward to reading any comments of your own.

By Iain Martin