AOL turns attention to travel channel site

Internet service provider AOL is to make a series of significant improvements to its travel channel this year as it looks to take advantage of its rising popularity with users.

AOL has this month created a new ‘Luxury’ section within the travel portal of its customer-only site, showcasing high-end accommodation through a deal with Kuoni.

High-quality video content has been included in the new section with some feeds running for up to 30 minutes.

The launch comes as part of a long-term strategy to beef up the AOL travel channel after the US-owned company named travel as a key area in its UK operation.

Additional video content is likely to be created for other parts of the channel this year and AOL is also looking to launch a blog-style function in the future.

AOL UK head of travel and lifestyle, Heather Sommerville, told Travolution that a high number of its UK customers – around one million – had access to broadband and therefore high-quality video content tailored for the users would be the next step forward.

AOL, which has 2.3 million UK customers, said in January it had seen a 30% increase on the same month in 2005 in the number of advertisers booking space in the travel channel.

The company revealed two leading US holiday operators – Attraction Tickets Direct and Walt Disney World – and airlines KLM and Emirates have all recently signed deals with AOL UK for the first time.

Alongside the Kuoni deal, AOL is expected to continue its partnerships with Kelkoo, to run the search engines for flights, hotels and car hire, plus for package holidays and cruises, and Rough Guides for editorial content.

The travel channel regularly attracts between 1.5 and 2.1 million unique visitors each month. A recent online poll set a record with 14,000 votes registered to discover the favourite natural wonder of the world.


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