The Travel section of the New York Times April 22 asks “are travel agents back?” After years of declining sales as consumers went online to find their own deals, agents are once again playing a relevant role in travel choices. It appears that customers are turning back to human beings because of drawbacks on the Web. There is just too much information and at the end of the day, consumers want a one-stop shop. The Times points out that after years of losing ground to online sites, a new breed of tech savvy, specialized and collaborative agent has emerged. Today consumers are doing their research online and then coming to agents to narrow the search.
Don’t break out the champagne just yet. Web 3.0 is just around the corner. According to Travis Katz, founder and CEO of Gogobot, it is impossible to name, for example, the single best hotel in Cabo San Lucas. “It depends very much on who is asking the queston,” and that reality is about to change the world as we know it.
Web 3.0 promises to filter the information overload and personalize it so that, if you search, as I did recently, for a Paris hotel, you won’t pull up a list of 1,ooo hotels. Rather you are going to see a short list of half a dozen that reflect the kinds of places you and your friends have chosen before. And this isn’t something that is just germane to travel – it is going to make sense for marketers in almost every sector. For those of us in public relations, this is a gamechanger. Web 3.0 will be capable of reading and understanding content and context and filtering the information for specific, individual interests. This means that when we are creating content for our brands, we will have to define the context that links the content to our audience and we are going to have to get very creative at “social design.”
With consumers bypassing media hubs to see what their friends like and recommend, online media releases will have to be more content rich and content specific than ever before. Brands must be relevant to situations and settings. To get the right message at the right time to the right person – on the right device – we will need the full arsenal of content including intriguing data, video clips, tags, links, RSS feeds and podcasts to name a few. And we are going to have to get our clients comfortable with the idea that we can release rather than push assets into social networks in order to enhance the virtual experience. Nothing we can’t handle, and the team here at Jesson is about to push “refresh” on our content delivery systems. Watch for it.