A nice surprise today: at the annual Traveltech industry conference in Sydney, Rome2rio was announced Australia’s Travel Website Of The Year for 2013. The award is judged on five criteria: innovation, design and usability, meeting the brief, speed, and content.
Winning this year’s award was something of a shock—we had not entered the competition, but the organisers included us anyway—and our competitors included some fabulous companies, among them Qantas, Lonely Planet, Booking.com, Agoda and Expedia. Not exactly a bunch of no-name startups. But they have all been around quite a while and we suspect the judges scored us strongly for innovation, the one criteria in which early stage companies have an obvious edge on their bigger, more established cousins.
This is exactly what I wanted to avoid…
Frankly, I’m more than a little embarrassed by the whole thing. I was a speaker earlier in the day but had booked a 3pm flight, hoping to get back to Melbourne before the rush hours that clog the freeways, especially on a football final weekend. Martin Kelly, the Traveltech conference supremo, had asked me if I’d be around for the awards; his question made me think it would be a good idea to stay, so I called Jetstar to see what my options were. You can guess the answer: my $90 fare would blow out to $350 if I swapped to an evening flight. I decided to stick with the original plan, and missed the awards ceremony. Oops.
Industry conferences like Traveltech, Singapore’s Web In Travel and the big daddy of them all, PhoCusWright, play a crucial role in bringing together the people who make online travel the incredibly vibrant industry that it’s become. At Viator we did all our early deals over drinks and dinner at PhoCusWright; now Rome2rio has enjoyed award wins at both PhoCusWright and Traveltech. Frankly, I can’t imagine doing business in online travel without these three annual events. Long may they reign!