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There were two interesting announcements from major travel sites April 28: TripAdvisor added Wendy Perrin, formerly of Conde Nast Traveler, as its travel advocate, and Yahoo Travel relaunched with an emphasis on editorial, but also very heavy on travel inspiration and sponsored content. TripAdvisor has one of the most well-rounded travel sites on earth, and Yahoo is being Yahoo.
Yahoo has relaunched Yahoo Travel as an “immersive digital magazine” with lots of light and inspirational editorial content, and plenty of sponsored content, including stories and video.
Yahoo Travel, which dates to around 1997, is often in the top 10 in traffic among travel sites globally, and has been neglected for years. But, is a “magazine,” whether it be digital, immersive or visually led, the response needed to recapture some of the magic?
For the relaunch, Yahoo has brought in Laura Begley Bloom, former deputy editor of Travel + Leisure, and Joe Piazza former executive news director for In Touch and Life & Style, to supplement the writing of Yahoo Travel’s Greg Keraghosian, among others. They join Editor-in-Chief Paula Froelich, who joined Yahoo earlier this month.
Interspersed among Begley Bloom’s piece about The Most Adorable Italian Inn — That Won’t Break the Bank, Keraghosian’s article, City Smackdown: San Francisco vs. Oakland, and Thrillist posts about brunch in Miami and the L.A. bar scene, are promoted pieces from Disney Parks (lots of them plus) and LasVegas.com, for example.
On the booking side of things, while the previous version of the site sometimes-clumsily offered flights, hotels, car rentals cruise and vacation rentals, the revamped Yahoo Travel sticks with just hotels, flights and car rentals for now, at least.
As before, bookings are handled by the Travelocity Partner Network, which is owned by Orbitz Worldwide.
The redesign shouldn’t be a big surprise as Yahoo, after all, is a media company. Yahoo Travel now resembles Yahoo Tech and Yahoo Food, which Yahoo says launched in January and attracts 13 million visitors per month.
The formula is the same.
“Yahoo Travel offers the same seamless native advertising, with sponsored articles and videos that are just as engaging as the stories around them,” Yahoo states in its announcement about the Yahoo Travel relaunch on Tumblr.
The tagline for Yahoo Travel is “Feeling Inspired? Book it.”
Will this blend of travel inspiration and bookings in the form of editorial, sponsored content and Orbitz finally be a combination that serves as an authoritative source for travel planning and booking?
Lots of skepticism here. It doesn’t have the user-generated content of TripAdvisor, the travel search capabilities of Kayak, or the authority of Lonely Planet.
There will undoubtedly be lots of focus on puffy inspiration, nice photos and video to sell ads, but the nitty gritty booking part of it all is farmed out to Orbitz, and won’t get much attention.