Travel Channel Media will share its content with other travel publishers and consolidate content from those sources at its own site, through a Web site called FlightDeck to launch early next year.
The site won't sell travel services but will help the “travel passionate” Web surfer research destinations and vendors for planned excursions, said Jon Sichel, senior vice president of commercial affairs and operations for Cox Communications-owned Travel Channel Media.
In this fractured media marketplace, viewers aren't always looking for Travel Channel content at its own branded site, he noted. Fans view content on YouTube and via Apple's iTunes Store, among others. This new Web network is a way to place content on other travel-centric sites, as original short-form video, and also forge agreements that will allow fans to click through those other sites to enter FlightDeck.
“We provide inspiration and information, get people excited about a [travel] destination, and then help them with the next step: research,” he said.
For instance, the new Web site (www.travelchannel.com/flightdeck) will allow its visitors to access information from partner Home&Abroad, a Boulder, Colo.-based travel technology company. Its new service, Fogglight on Demand, will allow FlightDeck to provide value-added tools to publishers that join the network, such as a trip planner (searching on one site for a flight, rental car and housing at the same portal) and other content. These tools improve brand engagement and site loyalty. Fogglight will provide advertisers with qualitative data views on the traveler preferences of site visitors that will improve ad targeting.
Travel Channel Media will also leverage other current partnerships to develop the site. Advertising on the linear channel is sold through an advertising sales agreement with Discovery Communications, whose digital sales division will help build relationships with advertisers in the travel category, selling time throughout the travel vertical.
The Web site will use technology from Adify Corp., a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. That vertical ad network management company provides the back-office functions necessary to allow participating content publishers to track where targeted ads run.
Sichel noted that the site is launching in the midst of an economic downturn. Travel, as a discretionary expenditure, is expected to be hit hard. Experts are predicting a 10% drop in air travel during this week's Thanksgiving pilgrimage, for example.
“The future is unknown in the travel space, but I feel [this Web site] will help. Videos help people book travel and people are still inspired by looking at the world. This content is still very desirable,” he said.
Plans are to launch FlightDeck in the first quarter of 2009.