STA Travel uses Web 2.0 for less corporate feel

STA Travel uses Web 2.0 for less corporate feel

80 per cent of customers begin their relationship with company online

STA Travel is using Web 2.0 and social networking technology to attract more customers to its web site and sell more products online.

More than 80 per cent of customers begin their dealings with the travel agency on the internet, so the firm’s web site is a crucial component of its marketing strategy.

The company wanted to create a community feel to the site by offering interactive content, said Craig Hepburn, head of e-commerce strategy.

“We have developed user-generated blogs where people can talk about their travels and review hotels, beaches and bars,” he said.

Visitors can create their own profiles and read others’ recommendations.

And STA “mashes up” the user-generated content with its own products and Google maps to create ad hoc pages giving the visitor recommended routes and locations alongside the STA products and offers that could take them there.

The content makes the web site feel less corporate, said Hepburn.

“People trust the site and use it in the same way they might use Lonely Planet travel guides,” he said.

“User-generated content is also fantastic for search engine optimisation ­ it puts us at the top of searches,” he said.

The travel agent has also developed trip blogs as applications within Facebook, as well as a virtual branch in the online world Second Life. Users can click through from both to the STA web site.

A key benefit of the Web 2.0 technology is that content can be easily posted and linked by those with little technical experience. The upgraded functions were initially launched in the UK, Australia and the US and are now being rolled out to another 13 countries.

The content can be automatically translated into different languages by a management system from supplier RedDot.