We all love travelling and we use different platforms as well as other online services to compare prizes, check out locations and exchange user experiences. TEDxVienna had the opportunity to sit down with Georg Ziegler, content director at HolidayCheck, and talk about the developments, requirements, and goals of the largest German speaking travel community online.
Our current monthly topic on the TEDxVienna blog is „ AHA – moments “. Do you remember your last AHA-experience? What was it about?
GZ: Since I am really fond of cooking at home, my latest AHA-moment was actually a culinary one. I discovered a really useful trick on YouTube on how to cut a pineapple in a very easy way that is also incredibly fast and doesn’t make a mess. Very useful.
Since 2015 you are HolidayCheck’s content director. Please give us a quick overview about your professional background.
GZ: I always enjoyed working in customer-orientated environments. Originally I come from a hospitality background, trained to be a chef and worked in several hotels. I have been with HolidayCheck for, in total, eight years now and every new week is an adventure. I enjoy the dynamics, the entrepreneurial approach, and the great teamwork at HolidayCheck; moreover, it is great to be able to bring in creative ideas including my industry background.
What exactly are your responsibilities? What are your most interesting and enjoyable tasks?
GZ: My position covers everything our users and customers see on our website, user-generated as well as official content. I am responsible for data acquisition, upload as well as for the quality assurance processes. What I enjoy most and what motivates me is the fact that we are building and further developing a platform that helps people to have the best time of their year by providing them with all the necessary information. This is also a lot of responsibility. If people enjoy their holidays, they have better love lives, family-lives and are more relaxed in general. People spend their quality time and also their money on their holidays – therefore, it needs to be perfect.
What distinguishes HolidayCheck from other platforms of this kind?
GZ: We are the largest German speaking travel community and our biggest goal is to connect people who love travelling. What differentiates HolidayCheck from other platforms is the fact that, although we are firmly established on the market and are growing consistently, we still maintain our start-up culture. We rely on trying out new things, we keep our communication lines short and our processes agile, and we guarantee absolute transparency and honesty to our customers.
500.000 hotels, 10 Million reviews and pictures. How do you generate this content?
GZ: We get up to 8.000 reviews and/or pictures per day, depending on the season. Every rating that arrives gets an object entry at our platform. These are generated mainly through our website and applications. To some extent our content is also provided by industry partners, such as tour operators, hotel chains or individual hotels, which are sending their customers to our database to share their experience. Each and every comment/rating/opinion/picture is subject to quality check, but we do not influence or control any of our content. As I mentioned before our main goal is to provide our clients with the relevant information to enable them to find their perfect hotel, activity, or destination – to enjoy their ideal holiday. Requirements and demands differ depending on the various target groups. What worked great for a couple on their honeymoon can be a family-vacation’s nightmare, for example. And it also has to be considered that expectations change depending on the stage people have reached in their lives.
How have web-platforms as HolidayCheck been transforming or disrupting the service sector as far as tourism is concerned?
GZ: I detect three fundamental changes since customers are able to communicate and share their experiences via web-platforms. The first one being that one customer’s feedback can help the provider adjust his product and therefore meet the next clients’ expectations. Secondly, a happy customer serves as a multiplier via his rating online. Which results in the third fundamental change: due to this transparency, every customer becomes an investment, which, at the end of the day, leads to an overall rise of quality. The immense benefit of direct customer feedback is that it provides the suppliers with their customers’ honest viewpoints.
Additionally, there has to be mentioned, that travelers really enjoy getting involved and being part of the process of evaluating their experiences. People love to share their experience as well as their pictures online.
TV: Please give us your opinion on how travelling has changed? What are the biggest differences to 10 years ago? Was there a shift concerning values of travelers?
GZ: Years ago one could only use catalogs as a means of choosing your holiday from. Through web-platforms and applications today there is full transparency and perfect guidance on site. People used to plan ahead because it was fairly complicated to organize things while on the way. Today travelers are connected, not only to other travelers but also to locals or other well-informed people.
Although people are still willing to invest a good amount of their income into their holidays, values have changed. With the decrease in flight prices, for instance, the perception of value and expenses also changed. The ever-growing amount of different holiday offers, opportunities, as well as prices, cause an enormous selection to choose from.
What was your best holiday so far? And what made it so special? How do you plan your private holidays/journeys?
GZ: My best holiday yet was our honeymoon. We traveled the United States’ west coast from Vancouver to L.A.. We haven’t had planned too much ahead and so it was full of adventure while deciding on each day’s plan on the go. Personally, I rely heavily on traveling apps and rarely take decisions without consulting other travelers. I use user-generated as well as classic travel guidebooks.
Georg Ziegler will be speaking at the FIFTEEN SECONDS Festival 2016 in Graz.
Portrait: Georg Ziegler
Header: Link Hoang