Online Travel Brass at PhoCusWright
By Rich Beattie
Some 1,400 people from 30 countries are packed in this year to the PhoCusWright conference at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s three days that are themselves packed full of information on the travel technology industry. Day 1 is the Travel Innovation Summit, while Day 2 brings in CEOs and other industry big shots.
One of the highlights is always the interview with Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO of Expedia. His company’s back to double-digit growth this year, and they’ve been busy. They revamped their hotel search experience, and are about to do the same with flights and package tours. A feature we love about Expedia is its user hotel reviews; in order to write a review, someone has to have booked that hotel through Expedia and actually stayed there.
Trusted reviews are a continuing hot topic, and nowhere more so than at TripAdvisor. CEO Steve Kaufer spoke at the conference as well, and not surprisingly, he feels strongly that there’s wisdom in the masses. Of course, TA’s 57 million monthly unique visitors pretty much guarantees a massive number of reviews. Still, some companies have claimed to find a certain percentage of fake reviews on TA. Kaufer says he’s played around with the same “gotcha” software; he’s run guaranteed real reviews—the ones he wrote himself—through the software, and even some of those have been labeled “suspicious” or “highly suspicious.” The argument will undoubtedly continue, but it’s not slowing the company down.
Also announced yesterday: the winners of the Travel Innovation Summit—congrats to them all.
• The General Catalyst Award for Travel Innovation: TourWrist
• The DEMO Award for the Most Game-Changing Innovation: TourWrist
• The 2012 Travel Innovation Summit People’s Choice Award: Rome2rio
• Startup: WeHostels
• Emerging: TourWrist
• Established: Tagman
• Best B2B: Tagman
• Best B2C: Couchsurfing
Rich Beattie is the executive digital editor at Travel + Leisure.