Miller Freeman is setting up a web site for the consumer holiday
market, one of the web’s most crowded sectors, saying ”no-one will do it
as well as us”.
This bold statement came from UK executive director Neil Thackray, who
said Miller Freeman’s focus-group research showed that none of the current
online travel suppliers had ”significant brand equity”.
”We’ve started this project by asking people exactly what they want,” he
said. ”Our research shows that big offline brands tend to be forgotten
online as being just real-world brands.”
This view flies in the face of conventional wisdom on web branding. Alexa
Clark, marketing director of Thomas Cook Interactive, said: ”Brands really
are still important. E-commerce sites need a level of trust. You only have
to look at the amount that new players have to spend promoting their
brands online and offline to see just how important they perceive it to
be. Customers want a proven track record. They have to know who they’re
Despite its apparent disregard for established online travel brands,
Miller Freeman has one undeniable advantage in entering this market - the
offline marketing clout of its parent, United News and Media, including
The Express, The Star and TV channels Meridian and Anglia.
The site (www.utravel.co.uk), will launch in the autumn and have strong
editorial content led by former Travel Trade Gazette Europe editor Claire
Foot. ”This site is about finding your dream holiday, not just a flight,”
said Thackray. ”It should feel a bit like wandering around a travel
Unusually, it will not offer online buying for most products on offer.
There will be transactional facilities for flights, but most holiday
buying will be completed by phone. Consequently, transactional revenue
will be a minor part of the site’s business plan. Sales-based revenue will
be its mainstay.