The explosion of websites this year signals a new trend of user-generated content that is sweeping the boards, as customers have their say through blogging, debating, sharing their expertise and even uploading their own photographs.

‘Social media’, as this latest phenomenon is called, is the hottest topic to hit online travel, fuelling a debate over whether businesses should allow internet users to contribute to a site rather than just read it, to widen the knowledge base and expand the content. Delegates at the Travolution Conference at WTM will be shown how customers can interact and air their opinions on websites to give travel companies an advantage through increasingly empowered online customers.

Arjo Ghosh, managing director of Spannerworks, one of the speakers at the Travolution conference, says he will reveal to WTM conference delegates everything they need to know about promoting their business online.

“Social media is increasingly complementing search engines and taking on some of the aspects of their role: helping people find information and sites that are specifically of interest to them. We are building social media campaigns for clients with the aim of improving their search rankings. The reasoning is simple: the more useful you are to your networks (or customers, influencers and partners) the better you will be regarded by search engines.”

“Brand communicators need to understand the role of search engines and social media in the new media landscape. Being in the right place on the Google front page for your brand or industry can be as important as being on the front page of a newspaper.” Spannerworks Social Media offers services to help brand and media owners understand how social media – like blogs, wikis, YouTube and MySpace relates to them.

Lewis Lenssen, Managing Director of Netizen Digital, another speaker at the Travolution Conference, will demystify some of the hottest issues in paid search marketing, such as the long tail keyword list, automated bid management tools and day-parting.

“The rapid evolution of PPC advertising has led to a knowledge gap in the industry. Many technology companies and agencies use this gap to their advantage, by selling ideas and services that may not have the value that justifies their prominent profile and their price.”

“For example, the importance placed on the ‘long tail keyword’ list isn’t usually justified by the value it actually produces for clients. The long tail is most effective if you are focusing solely on buying traffic, but it is a highly questionable strategy when your focus is on conversion”.

Netizen Digital offers a full range of integrated online marketing services. Its PPC campaign management service uses a blend of technology and human judgement, to deliver campaigns that are finely tuned to the needs of the travel industry.

E-marketing - the ultimate online toolkit will be unveiled at the Travolution Conference as delegates learn how travel companies can use new generation social media tools - blogs, podcasts, videocasts, web design, ecommerce, search engine maximization, web analytics to their advantage.

Other speakers at the Conference include Nancy Lyndhurst, product manager for travel, O2; Esteban Walther, Head of Travel Europe, Google; Carsten Willert, head of Chris Nixon, general manager & Head of sales, Travel Supermarket; Justin Dewhirst, Head of Portal Business Management, MSN UK; Adam Freeman, Deputy Advertisement Director, Guardian Newspapers; Salim Mitha, Director, Yahoo Search Marketing; Gillian Gibson, Vice President - Multi-national Customer Group, Amadeus; Ian McCaig, Chief Executive Officer,; and Michelle Peluso, president and chief executive officer, Travelocity.

“Travolution@WTM – Covering Travel in the Digital World” is a joint initiative, organised by World Travel Market and Travolution, the UK-based media brand, which includes a bi-monthly magazine, website and blog, encapsulating senior level debate, reports and analysis.

A series of seminars on the Tuesday 7 November will have a focus on “Learning” about travel in the digital world, while the one-day conference, with keynote speakers and panel discussions on Wednesday 8 November, will be created with a “Debating” theme in mind.