At AXSES, we have been musing about the Internet advertising business, wondering how it will evolve. With Google losing ground to other choices such as Social Networking, Meta search, bookings and interactive services, it will not be long before they morph their business to give travellers what they want. For now, Google has decided not go the bookings route. They did not buy Expedia, as had been rumoured. Google opted to move more into social networking; see Google Travel Plans. MSN in contrast is moving to interactive shopping, with its purchase of Farecast.

In our view, the days of static ads and lists that link to websites are limited. We expect to see this change even on the search engines. Travellers need to be able to compare options and get fully-costed holidays at a click. Google is retiring its AdSense referral program, that allowed almost any website to display Google static ads and get paid per click. In its place is the Google Affiliate Network, which pays based on a purchase.

Hitwise, the Internet statistics company, recently noted a significant shift in searchers favouring Branded searches. “I looked at the top 300 search terms sending visits to Travel websites and found that more than three-quarters (77 percent) of visits from these queries were from branded search terms such as Hilton hotels or Expedia in the four weeks ending April 26, 2008”, reported Heather Hopkins, VP Research, Hitwise UK.

Simply put, the Hitwise findings mean searchers are now looking more for names they know and not relying as much on generic terms. If the trend continues, it will mean that we can’t rely on the search engines to help people discover our hotels for the first time. We can’t rely on a middleman to market us! Marketing ourselves is something we can’t avoid.

In light of the trends to buy direct, it is interesting that Expedia is a top of mind search term. Yet, Expedia reports unofficially, that 70% of visitors to their site use their list to find resorts matching a budget, and then go directly to the resort website to make a contact and book. Ninety-five percent of Expedia visitors do not buy from Expedia.

Aware of this trend, Expedia introduced a Cost per Click (CPC) advertising option, similar to Google. Interesting indeed! Has Expedia seen the writing on the wall? Perhaps they got the idea that they were the new search engine for travel. So now, instead of paying 25-30% in commission, advertisers are paying 30-40% and don’t have any control over their brand.

The Cost per Click (CPC), is the cost to deliver a single customer to a website as a result of a paid listing or advertisement on a medium such as Google or

In a recent study of advertising costs, AXSES revealed that the Cost per Click on is now often less than 20 percent of costs on sites such as Google. advertisements, up until now, have been static ads that link travellers to the advertiser’s website. In addition, offers a free listing for every resort in the destination of Barbados – all of them, not just advertisers.

This will not be so for long. Our next release will make these ads interactive and link directly to dynamic quotation, reserve and book options. Of course, all links go directly to the advertisers.

What this means is that advertisers will have interactive advertisements that allow travellers to get an immediate quote and to reserve or book a holiday package, including air, online, on almost every advertisement and listing on Travellers will now be able to click a button on the advertisement itself and make a booking directly with the hotel right there and then, and this is right across all media, even on Google Maps. Pretty powerful, when you consider that Maps are on the Google website: (Google Maps)
as well as on Map pages (

This facility significantly enhances the Direct e-commerce bookings that have been a feature of the suite of websites for the past three years.

Typically, marketing services that include quotes and booking are available via middlemen channels, such as Expedia, which take 18-30% of every sale.

The trend is clear: the Internet is revolutionizing marketing with more and more travellers choosing to go to the supplier’s website and book direct rather than through a middleman. Travellers say they feel they have more control working with the supplier directly, but they expect rates and services to be comparable.

Couple low CPC advertising with bookable ads and the supplier-centered technologies now in place with arcRes Suites, AXSES travel platform and other supplier-centered features, and you get a powerful direct marketing solution.

Enhancing supplier’s brand and delivering commission free business directly to the tourism operator.

Giving control back to the supplier.

We look forward to hearing from. Do you agree, do you have a point of view? Please let us know what you know!

Ian R. Clayton, AXSES

See PowerPoint concept and rational: – example of classification list
– feature – – – banner/body text box

bookable maps



Over the next few weeks, I will be laying out our view of what we, at AXSES, think is in store for travel marketing on the Internet, what works and why.

Our vision is tempered by current research, the opinions of people in the business and our own experience. It is an optimistic view, one that holds that the Internet is drastically changing marketing to the advantage of the supplier. The Internet does level the playing field and every small operate has a voice.

The articles are supplier-centered. With travel buying moving to the Internet, it is important that we understand how the Internet is changing and what it will mean to suppliers. The articles will deal with how best to optimize your Internet marketing, your brand and your control of distribution.
We look forward to your comments and feedback. Your ideas for new articles would be greatly appreciated. Please also let us know if you prefer not to get the emails.

The following is a list of what the first articles will address:

Who is the Supplier anyway?

This article explores the changing face of who is in control, how control is shifting to suppliers, and why.

Travel Advertising at a Crossroads

Are static links and Banners ads still relevant? This article explains how advertising is changing and how AXSES is leading the move to fully interactive advertisements, that allow visitors to look and book, even from a map.

Travel Search at a Crossroads

Search is losing ground to other media. This article explores how that shift is happening and what it means.

Destination Marketing at a Crossroads

Destination guides are one of the first places travellers look. We consider how to keep them on the site and get them back when they leave.

Travel Distribution at a Crossroads

We will look at the changing relevance of GDS and its role as supplier of content to other Internet Distribution Companies. Our emphasis is what should the supplier do to optimise distribution and why. GDS history | 2-Way Seamless Integration | Chain Codes | IDS will be covered.

Marketing at a Crossroads

The 4 P’s of marketing are no longer Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The Internet has changed all of that. Jason McNamara, CMO of Alterian, says there are now 5P’s: People, Process, Platform, Partners and Passion.

Internet at a Crossroads

Web 3.0 is here! What will it mean to the travel supplier? This article will explain what Web 3.0 is all about and how it will change the way travellers use the Internet.