The move coincides with exclusive research, carried out by Travel Weekly sister publication Travolution, which revealed users of the virtual world would welcome greater involvement from travel firms.
Of the 803 Second Life users polled, 83% said they would like real travel brands to host virtual events. Two-thirds said they would go to a travel company to book a holiday in real life if they had seen the brand on Second Life.
The launch party for Travel.co.uk will be hosted in Comtec’s virtual Second Life office.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Travolution summit, Comtec product and marketing director Ed Whiting, whose Second Life character is bike-riding Ned Kidd, admitted he “did not have a clue” if the launch party would suceed.
“Travel companies need to go where the people are and we see a real potential for this promotion and distribution of travel in an expanding global community,” he said.
The research showed more than one million Second Life users logged in during a 30-day period up to mid-April.
“We are going to invite everybody,” Whiting said. “However, we might hire a bodyguard so people don’t trash the place.”
Comtec virtual office has a presentation theatre showing a video about the company. There are also links throughout the office to the websites of the firm’s various brands, including Travel.co.uk, and other technology platforms.
Comtec, which has owned the Travel.co.uk domain for 10 years, is not the first travel firm to exploit Second Life. Starwood Hotels simultaneously built a prototype Aloft hotel in Second Life and in New York, and STA Travel has a travel agency in the virtual world.
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