High-flying travel web sites exploiting the Web 2.0 world could soon evolve into Travel 3.0 sites ? but if forward-thinking travel businesses choose the wrong technology partner, they could fall by the wayside, says Tim Wright, managing director of dynamic packaging specialist HyperTech Solutions UK. He described the combination of Web 2.0 with dynamic packaging as the potential category killer in the online travel space.

Speaking at the Travel Technology Initiative?s spring conference sponsored by HyperTech, he said that the Web 2.0 phenomenon is driven by communities of collaborators who share information online because they trust it more than business-generated information. ?They?re more questioning about marketing-biased information, and are far more interested in unfiltered, peer-driven insights free of corporate influence and spin,? Wright stated.

Travel 2.0 Well Established

Illustrating how the travel industry has seized on Web 2.0?s collaborative nature are many of what Wright calls Travel 2.0 sites. They focus on shared, collaborator-authored information to feed the growing trend for FIT (Free & Independent Travel) and travellers? preference for creating their own tailored itineraries.

Notable Travel 2.0 examples include TripAdvisor, Starwood?s TheLobby.com, and sites like TripUp and AirTroduction where travellers can find flight and journey companions. Travel options can be refined using traveller opinion found on Lonely Planet?s Thorn Tree site, while WhereAreYouNow.com is expanding its successful concept of a Friends Reunited for travellers.

According to Wright, the next significant travel industry development of this C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace, where ?word of mouth and word of mouse? are influential, will see more commercialisation. This, he stated, will use Web 2.0 principles to directly encourage sales, based on far broader collaboration between individual web sites and their contributors, and underpinned by sophisticated dynamic packaging.

Travel 3.0 Is About Sales

The real commercial opportunity arises because few, if any, Travel 2.0 sites currently offer a seamless, directly integrated booking and transaction facility. In Wright?s opinion, Travel 3.0 sites will harness the proven capability of dynamic packaging to enrich buyer choice and so build sales, value and margin.

?Web 2.0 combined with dynamic packaging will be the category killer in the Travel 3.0 world,? claimed Wright. ?It?s one in which travel buyers, inventory suppliers and collaborators will each play a role.? The latter will be the primary source for creating and improving itinerary options, posting suggestions that can actually be booked. Travel buyers will have access to these pre-defined itineraries (created, posted and ranked by individual community users), as well as copious destination and component content and detail.

Powerful search tools will let buyers comparison-shop amongst a huge variety of travel components and products that best match their individual preferences - and they?ll be able to select, book and pay, all online and on one site.

Travel supplier benefits include access to millions of potential customers while fully controlling how their inventory is sold, including pricing, offer-naked or offer-package-only, branding and so on. Suppliers will be able to offer excess or distressed inventory within package structures that protect branding and pricing, as well as getting access to supplementary, complementary products that differentiate and enrich their own product offer.

Wright emphasised that enabling a Travel 3.0 site, with its rich content, choice and book-ability, requires close collaboration between the travel site, like-minded suppliers and a technology partner with the platform, capabilities, data structures and vision to pull it all together.