OHG bids to ‘bypass’ Google with social media scheme

Travel agents are to be offered an alternative to paying the soaring online marketing costs as part of a new affiliate scheme.

Google Bypass, developed by On Holiday Group (OHG) and RateGain, will allow travel firms’ customers to easily upload deals, sent to them by email, to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

OHG claims it will pioneer monetising social media.

The system is being trialled by OHG’s online travel agency, but it plans to sell it to companies inside and outside the industry.

It offers customers £25 for each booking generated, which is what OHG estimates it currently pays Google per booking.

Tests over the past two weeks with emails going to 4,000 customers led to 150 clients posting deals and five bookings.

Rebecca Shipston, head of online development at Holidaynights, said: “Our customers get an email with offers that they can upload to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites simply by pressing a button.

“If their friends or followers book we can track it and that customer gets £25 cash.

“We worked out we pay Google an average of £25 per booking and it occurred to us we could bypass Google and give that money to the consumer instead.”

Emails with deals will soon be sent to Holidaynights’ database of 200,000 people.

It is expected that the technology will be offered to travel and non-travel firms within two to three months after OHG has rolled out the system completely.

Chief executive Steve Endacott said: “This is a completely new distribution mechanism and one of the first ways to monetise social media.”

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