The travel industry is witnessing the emergence of "Travel 3.0 intelligent agents"
Such travel websites promise to simplify the travel research and planning process, for which consumers already access several destinations be it suppliers websites, search engines, meta search engines, online travel agents and a host of collaboration/ community/ review/ deal sites.
So how can so called Travel 3.0 intelligent agents add a new dimension in an era, which is already full of choices on the web?
"We believe the very success of the web 2.0 travel sites and content types is making the planning process harder for travelers," says Yen Lee, founder and president of UpTake, a travel search and discovery application. "Travel research and discovery are more difficult today given the explosion of web 2.0 sites, UGC, and direct booking options. UpTake is determined to simplify the travel search and discovery process and be the first place for people to begin their search to make better decisions about travel."
Lee points out that recent surveys showed the average consumer finds travel research to be a time consuming and frustrating process; the average consumer makes 12 searches and visits 22 sites before they book. Consumers currently have to swim through an ocean of unorganised information from friends, guidebooks, review sites, blogs, photo and video sites, newspapers and communities.
"UpTake offers an alternative way to plan travel by collecting information from across the web and returning tailored results based on consumers´ trip preferences. With UpTake, travelers will have a central starting point to research their travel options to make better, more informed travel decisions about where to go, where to stay and what to do," said Lee.
UpTake acts as an intelligent agent for consumers, saving them time and helping them make better decisions about what to book, because it:
1. Understands the preferences of the consumer researching a trip;
2. Collects and organises reviews and other content from the web;
3. Understands the intent and sentiment of travel reviews and articles from all over the web; and
4. Matches consumers with the most relevant reviews and products.
According to Lee, UpTake has captured millions of opinions - including those from social networking and community sites - in one place from across the web.
"Given user-generated content (UGC) is consumer´s preferred source of information, suppliers and intermediaries need to provide UGC – directly or indirectly via partners - to new consumers or risk losing those consumers to other sites," says Lee, former general manager of Yahoo! Travel.
"This technical methodology offers a better user experience by delivering the most relevant results for the trip a user wants to take. We also optimise application performance and page download speeds, but our primary focus is effectiveness - returning the most relevant results is the best way of improving the consumer experience. Putting relevant content in front of consumers creates a better experience than many travel sites that require consumers to spend time picking through a lot of content across many pages to find the content they need," said Lee.