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HOOROO GRABS QF, JQ HOTEL BUSINESS FROM JTG ‘First to bring social commerce to online travel’ claims Qantas subsidiary


Issues & Trends – July 2012

HOOROO GRABS QF, JQ HOTEL BUSINESS FROM JTG
‘First to bring social commerce to online travel’ claims Qantas subsidiary

HOOROO, the Qantas Group sub-sidiary which this month launched a new cutting-edge hotel booking web-site to the public, has replaced JTG as the white label supplier of domestic accommodation content for Jetstar.com and Qantas.com.

Hooroo took over the Jetstar business in November last year and the Qantas business in June.
Previously the carriers sourced this content from Ready Rooms, acquired by JTG as part of its merger with Qantas Holidays (QH) and QBT. Also affected is Expedia which supplied some content to Jetstar.

But despite being wholly owned by the Qantas Group, Hooroo says it is a stand-alone business that “will compete with other online travel agents for the benefit of providing white label services to Jetstar and Qantas”.

Asked why the Qantas Group would move back into distribution so soon after divesting QH and QBT, Hooroo’s head of commercial Bruce Fair said JTG is predominantly a B2B supplier whereas Hooroo will have a “laser like” focus on B2C.

Asked if Hooroo could become a supplier to other travel agents in similar vein to Expedia, Fair said: “If it makes sense for us we could do so in the future but it is not our focus at present.”

Similarly he did not rule out expansion into international inventory although it is not currently on the company’s agenda.

Fair talks with obvious pride about the feat of building the Hooroo plat-form from scratch over the past 15 months.

He said the Qantas Group assembled “the best talent from across the US, Europe and Australia” to develop the proprietary software and the result is “a 2012 website” with world-leading innovative new functionality.

Fair is himself part of the inter-national talent recruited by Qantas for the project. Previously based in London, he is the former managing director and vice president inter-national of Kelkoo, claimed to be

“Europe’s leading shopping and travel comparison portal”. He has also served as UK and Ireland commercial director of Yahoo!, overseeing its travel, real estate, automobile, dating and finance verticals.

According to Fair, Hooroo combines “a super slick booking engine” with “rich, inspiring content, imagery and user generated comments”.

To kick start the site’s user generated commentary, Hooroo retained a team of “ambassadors” to visit accommo-dation around Australia.

Fair said these ambassadors – bloggers, travel writers and others – have provided a wealth of unbiased assessments and tips for Hooroo users to discover and add to.

“We want the community to engage with the site – there are so many tips that hotels don’t necessarily share,” he said.
In addition to innovative social media features, Fair said Hooroo will be offering “super competitive” rates and “a huge range of hotels” for both leisure and corporate markets as it bids to win a significant share of Australia’s $1.9 billion online accommodation booking market.

Said Hooroo executive manager Simon Chamberlain: “The current online travel agent (OTA) market consists of undifferentiated, purely functional competitors.

“The Hooroo team wants travellers to discover a better way to uncover and book their next adventure.

“Hooroo is the first to bring social commerce to online travel.”

He cited Tourism Australia research showing up to 73 per cent of Australian Facebook users have bragged about their domestic travels on social media and 20 per cent have been prompted to book a domestic holiday as a result of viewing Facebook updates and photos.

Fair depicted the arrival of Hooroo as “great news” for domestic tourism.

“There is currently a huge amount of investment from tourism bodies to encourage Australian travel,” he said.

“We welcome that investment and remain highly passionate about sup-porting the Australian travel industry.

“Hooroo is the perfect platform to showcase destination options from across Australia to a broad travelling audience.”

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy is an enthusiastic supporter of what Hooroo is trying to achieve.

He issued a statement saying he hopes the entry of Hooroo.com into the online accommodation marketplace will boost domestic tourism “by offer-ing a new and additional platform to promote and sell Australian holidays”.

“We undoubtedly live in a digital age now, with the internet and social media platforms playing a major role in the way we plan and book our travel.

“It’s good to see Hooroo responding so positively to this changing landscape by integrating digital, social media and advocacy into their core marketing and commercial activities.”

 

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