Social networking website Wayn.com has struck deals with travel firms to sell holidays through the platform.
Chairman Brent Hoberman revealed the website has been in negotiations with a number of travel firms about promoting its product to the eight million members of the Where are you now? website.
Although he refused to reveal which companies Wayn.com has been in discussions with, he said a deal has been agreed with a meta-search travel firm.
The Lastminute.com founder expected the tie-ups, which will include direct links from Wayn.com to the travel sites, to appear on Wayn.com within the next two months.
Hoberman said traditional travel providers should look to do similar deals with social networking sites because it improves their brand and could lead to increased sales.
“There is a shift away from the travel agent or tour operator telling people where to go,” he said. “Instead, people are talking to each other and basing their holiday choices on recommendations from peers.”
He warned the travel industry that social networking sites have “the power to compete with travel companies if they don’t work with them”.
“Social networking sites can add a layer of value on top for the travel retailer,” he said.
However, he ruled out Wayn.com contracting product directly.
Meanwhile, Hoberman predicted “huge rewards” for investment in location-based mobile services.
Such services would include ‘virtual notice boards’, which people could access by entering a destination in their phone. Local businesses would then compete for the users’ custom by posting offers on the boards.
“I’m convinced it will take off,” Hoberman said. “Whether that will happen in six months or six years’ time just depends on technology.”
Hoberman also predicted tourist boards will invest in the virtual world technology used by online world Second Life, to promote their destinations on the web.
He warned travel firms looking to differentiate themselves through the use of video that “they are not thinking hard enough – videos will be commoditised”.
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