CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - A prospector turned traveller Wherenow.co.uk’s Charles Seaford is offering unique holidays, Jade Garrett says.

By JADE GARRETT, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 10 December 1999 12:00AM

The 41-year-old Charles Seaford is the man behind Wherenow.co.uk - the internet travel company that aims to offer tailor-made holidays online and which has unveiled its launch advertising through Mitchell Patterson Grime Mitchell.

The 41-year-old Charles Seaford is the man behind Wherenow.co.uk -

the internet travel company that aims to offer tailor-made holidays

online and which has unveiled its launch advertising through Mitchell

Patterson Grime Mitchell.



But what could possibly persuade anyone to visit Wherenow.co.uk, when

travel sites on the web are already too numerous to mention?



’Sites like Lastminute.com are a way of off-loading the product to

consumers very quickly but it’s not particularly revolutionary. We will

give consumers information that they can use to make it easier to book

the holiday that they want,’ Seaford says. ’I believe that

Wherenow.co.uk will change the way people buy their holidays because it

will put more power into the hands of the consumer.’



The mammoth task for Mitchell Patterson will be devising and sustaining

a campaign that will not only grab consumer attention but tell us what

we need to know when so many dotcom campaigns are being criticised for

their inability to communicate what the website offers.



’Like everyone else, I’m already bored of all the dotcom advertising,’

Seaford says, ’and I’m sure I’ll only become more so. We’ve only seen

the beginning.’



The agency’s national press and poster campaign launches the company

with the promise that ’now you can find your perfect holiday now’. A TV

campaign will follow later next year.



This is how it works. People log on to the site, which Seaford promises

is a painless experience in itself. ’I’m very against registration,’ he

says. ’You don’t have to spend 20 minutes at the beginning inputting all

your personal data only to forget what you password is and start again.

And you won’t be asked for your credit card details until you decide to

book.’



Consumers are then asked about 20 questions on topics such as their

favoured destinations, flight times, preferred resorts and

accommodation. You then sit back and let the search engine do its stuff

- no wading through brochures and no time wasted queuing at the travel

agents.



’We are the only site that has a database of places you can search to

find the right thing,’ Seaford says, ’but there is no point having

access to this data if it’s not available when you come to book - so the

site is updated every evening.’



Seaford is also planning to tap into the resources of one of the major

high street travel companies. So can anyone visiting the site expect to

be flogged that particular retailer’s holidays?



’I can see how that could be misinterpreted,’ Seaford says, ’but their

co-operation, which is by no means on an exclusive basis, is more to do

with the technology.’



Seaford has spent enough time in publishing and marketing to know a good

deal when he sees one.



After nearly seven years at Wolff Olins as an equity analyst, he

launched Prospect magazine - where he remains a non-executive director -

in 1995 and once he tried to buy The New Statesman.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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