Google and Thomas Cook online heads join STEPS event

Two of the online travel industry’s heavy-hitters have joined a line-up to debate the impact of the internet on the Spanish tourism industry at this year’s STEPS event.

Thomas Cook director of e-commerce, Carol Dray, and UK head of travel for Google, Dan Robb, will join John MacNeill from Kirker Holidays and John McEwan from Advantage Travel Centres for a session at the event on Thursday 30 March.

The four will debate the UK travel distribution market its effect on High Steet shops and their online counterparts as an increasing number of tourists choose to book their holidays through the internet.

The session will be chaired by Richard Siddle, editor of Travel Weekly, sister title of Travolution.

The debate forms part of a concerted effort by the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK to attract the online travel industry to this year’s STEPS event at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.

STEPS director Ignacio Vasallo said: “Following the great growth of online sales and increase in numbers of UK based online distributors a new online meeting area has been set up during this year’s STEPS exhibition.

“We hope this new initiative will provide UK’s online retailers an ideal area to meet with both existing and potential Spanish product suppliers.

The conference hall for 2006 has been divided into so-called office “pods” for meetings and a special online booking facility has been created to allow consumers to interact with exhibitors at the event.

“We are thrilled with this new initiative and will have online distributors such as Expedia,,, On Holiday Group, and joining us,” Vasallo said.

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