Fairfax partners with TripAdvisor for new travel site

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Fairfax has launched a new website for its Traveller section in partnership with consumer review site TripAdvisor, in a project underpinned by research into readers’ key motivations and desires when it comes to travel.

Traveller.com.au departs from the Sydney Morning Herald and Age mastheads onto a standalone site with a clean new design. The site aims to fill a gap in the market for trusted travel advice, bridging the consumer transition from “dreaming to planning” their holiday, group director Melina Cruickshank said.

At the site’s launch event last night, Ms Cruickshank revealed it has already had success in the two weeks since its launch, exceeding daily traffic expectations and heading towards one million unique views.

Research undertaken during the site’s development found that Australian travellers are an “extremely curious and adventurous” group with a hunger for new experiences, and “trust was key” in their criteria for travel information.

They sought advice from “experienced writers that they respected and believed”, Ms Cruickshank said.

According to emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia), Australians take three times as many holidays as they did 10 years ago, and newspaper media is the number one most useful influence in holiday decisions, with 7.2 million reading the travel section of a newspaper every month.

In a first for an Australian travel site, TripAdvisor has jumped on board Traveller.com.au, with reviews from paying travellers sitting alongside reviews from popular Fairfax writers including Ben Groundwater and Ute Junker.

Online editor Craig Platt said the strategy, joining forces with a content provider where consumers are king, added a further layer of trust.

While there is an overload of information out there for prospective travellers, Mr Platt said Traveller.com.au’s philosophy was to introduce readers to ideas and places “that may not have yet crossed their minds”.

However, this did have to be balanced with stories of familiar favourites, he said. “Readers also love stories that they can relate to.”

For the product research project, Fairfax joined forces with research company The Lab Strategy to unearth four key themes consumers embrace when planning their holidays: belonging, which reinforced connections with friends, family and roots; potential, which tapped into travellers’ ambitions, imaginations and aspirations; mindfulness, on journeys with a moral or spiritual theme; and excess, favouring hedonistic and indulgent experiences – each providing opportunities for advertisers, strategy director at The Lab Strategy Paul Labargna explained.

On a panel at the event, Ute Junker said travel in 2014 was more interest-based than ever, with time-poor people using holidays to pursue hobbies in a more relaxed or exotic environment away from the pressures of day-to-day life.

“Putting food on the table at the end of each day for four other people…is a very different experience to doing a cooking class where you can be creative and have a glass of wine or two along the way,” she said.

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