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KELLY PAGE: UNIVERSITY OF GLAMORGAN BUSINESS SCHOOL:.

Worldwide, online travel is a huge industry, driven by more than 41 million online travel buyers (emarketers.com, 2004), and despite economic and safety concerns, continued growth is expected.

However, the market for online travel services is competitive and cluttered. Strong brand awareness and a positive service reputation is imperative for the future growth of the company's member base.

The issue lies not with the company's service offering or website presence, as with most pure online service operators. The issue for Companion 2 Travel lies in online hard currency - website traffic.

The number of visitors and members can translate into online currency through subscription rates or advertising revenue.

Companion 2 Travel should focus resources on driving site traffic and traffic conversion rates. This could be achieved cost- effectively by optimising search engine and directory activities and participation in an affiliate online marketing campaign.

Searching is second only to email as the most popular online activity and search engine traffic is very targeted given potential users are actively searching for you or your related service offerings. When correctly implemented, search engine marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available online.

Companion 2 Travel should devise a search engine optimisation strategy, targeting potential users through travel and related search engine categories, to increase their site's visibility and maximise site listing on leading search engines and/or directories (eg Excite, AltaVista, Yahoo, Google etc).

Secondly, a lot of content- and service-based websites get most of their money from advertisers, which are attracted by high traffic numbers or highly specialised traffic profiles. Because of this, traffic translates directly into profit for these sites through the form of pay-per-click affiliate programs.

To increase traffic and provide specialised traffic profiles, Companion 2 Travel should investigate possible affiliate programs and/or marketing partnerships with both large and small online travel operators (eg travelcity, expedia).

These online marketing activities will increase site traffic and brand awareness among potential users and increase the attractiveness of Companion 2 Travel for venture capital funding and other opportunities for advertising revenue.

www.glam.ac.uk/bus
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 16, 2005
Words:346
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