TUI Travel has launched a beta version of cheqqer.com, a portal for user-generated content that will be developed to generate recommendations rather than just offer reviews
Sandra Leonhard, TUI director of web strategy and business development, told Travolution TUI had decided to launch the site in beta and build from there rather than develop a version inhouse.
At present the site exists only in Dutch and is populated by 117,000 reviews from Dutch customers. However, the plan is to incorporate reviews from across the entire TUI Travel portfolio “where legally possible”. UK reviews will be added within weeks and there should be one million reviews on cheqqer.com within months.
Leonhard said non-TUI Travel content, such as “tips from experts and editorial”, would also feature on the site. She declined to say when an English-language home page would be launched.
The site will aim to make recommendations rather than just offer reviews. Search functions will be based around “the social graph” as much as around destinations so users can find recommendations by those with similar interests or tastes. Visitors to the site will be able to rate the reviews.
“We want to change things so that reviews are part of the research process,” said Leonhard. “The current model is based around customers using reviews to validate an existing choice.” She added: “People are finding it increasingly difficult to get what they want.”
Leonard suggested there is more user-generated content on the web than published content and argued: “Search engines struggle to find relevant content within reviews because of the way this type of content is generated.”
She said cheqqer.com would be built using an open application programming interface (API), allowing developers to build cheqqer applications. “The commercially viable user-generated content sites have an open API,” she said.
Revenue will come from qualified leads to advertisers. “This will be an independent company within TUI Travel,” she said. “It will not be linked to a tour operator.”