Published on Monday, April 25, 2005
Travel industry heavy weights such as Virgin Atlantic and Lastminute were among the winner’s at this year’s TravelMole Web Awards, alongside specialists such as Snow-Line and Caledonian MacBrayne ferries.
Now in its third year, the TravelMole Web Awards received a record number of nominations, with over 300 individual websites nominated across 12 categories.
The websites were analysed by a team of internet specialists according to ease of navigation, clarity of purpose, functionality and effective and aesthetically- pleasing design. The judges were John Lawrence of Worldchoice, Dr Hilary Murphy of Lausanne Hotel School, Liz Craig of OneGlobe Network, and Susie Greenwood of Greenwood Solutions.
The awards were presented to a lively crowd at a well-known pub in central London on Friday afternoon, followed by refreshments and celebrations for the winners, sponsors and the TravelMole team.
Winner of the travel agency website award, sponsored by Dolphin Dynamics was Snow-Line, regarded by the judges as being well-organised and accompanied by an excellent search facility.
On collecting the award Snow-Line commercial manager Glen Thomas told TravelMole: “It’s fantastic to win this award and get such a boost at the end of the ski season. Our customer-friendly approach is our strength and that’s what has helped us to thrive in what is an exceptionally competitive marketplace and in this very competitive category.”
The next to be handed out was the web-based agency award, sponsored by OneGlobe Network. The winner, Lastminute.com, was regarded to have most successfully managed its content, with a “funky” design and clean delivery directed at specific target markets.
Next was the tour operator site, sponsored by Vertical Group, and won by Complete North America, for its comprehensive content and tailored search. Director Duncan Harwood told TravelMole: “We are very excited to have received this award because we’re a relatively young company at only six year’s old. Our content is great and the thing that really sets us apart is that we make it easy for people to find exactly what they are looking for.”
The tourist board category was hotly contested as ever, and was won this year by travelnt.com, a website promoting Australia’s Northern Territories. On accepting the award, UK Regional Director Robert Hardless said: “To say that we are delighted with this reward would be a understatement. We are all over the moon and extremely happy that all the hard work, ingenuity and creativity that went into the design of our website by our talented team in Darwin has been so significantly recognised.
“You just have to consider the stiff competition we had to beat to get this award to understand its value and importance.”
The airline website, sponsored by P&P Associates was won by Virgin Atlantic, and there to collect the award was head of interactive media at Cochango, Paul Dawson, who oversaw the design of the website. He told TravelMole: “We’re delighted to have won this because Virgin’s strategy is all about having a customer- facing site which delights the user and rather than a focus on technology we concentrate on the customer’s enjoyment.”
Picking up the hotel or resort site award, sponsored by Rooster, was The Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the luxury Oxfordshire hideaway owned by Raymond Blanc. The site was picked by the judges for its copious detail and use of imagery.
The cruise and ferry operator site was the next award, sponsored by First Choice Interactive and won by Caledonian MacBrayne, the Hebridean and Clyde ferry operator, viewed by the judges to have a user-friendly design and easy-flowing booking facility.
On receiving the award, head of communication and customer care, Hugh Dan MacLennan said: “The award is great news for the company and Debs Brown of the marketing team, who has led the development of the site.
”Our web activity has gone up year on year by nearly 50% per month compared to last year… That can only be good for our business and the communities we serve, given that the web activity normally translates into brochure requests and then reservations.”
The award for top car rental site, sponsored by Octopus Travel, went to Carbookers.com, the car rental site launched in January 2004 by ebookers. On collecting the award, group marketing direct Chris Sherlock told TravelMole: “We have focussed on simplicity with the site, looking at what the customer is looking for and putting them in control of the booking.
“It’s more than click, click and buy, it’s an experience,” said ebookers group car product manager Kevin Hall.
The web-based technology category, sponsored by Sabre Travel Network, was won by SkyScanner.net, for it’s “state of the art meta search”, according to the judges. On collecting the award, director Barry Smith told TravelMole: “We are over the moon about this as we understood this category had a lot of nominations. We are always looking to do something different and innovative and will continue to do so looking forward.”
The travel management website category, sponsored by Dataflex, was won by Wayte Travel, which also had its studentflights.co.uk website short-listed in the travel agency category. Designed by a web designer and former travel agent, the site was praised for its attention grabbing and clear homepage and effective content delivery.
Wayte Bros Ltd managing director Chris Morris told TravelMole: “We have won this award two year’s running, which is a great achievement. It’s a reflection of the success of this website and its ability to attract new business to Wayte Travel.”
The penultimate award, for the best recruitment site, was sponsored by the Institure of Travel Managers and won by C&M Group for its candm.co.uk site. On collecting the award, C&M Group managing director, Angus Chisholm said: “We’re delighted to get the award because we’ve been through a company rebrand and invested a lot in the site. Receiving this award has confirmed our position as the market leader and best place to find work in the travel industry in the UK.”
The final award was the responsible tourism site award, sponsored by Worldspan and this year won by Ecoclub S.A.. The judges said the winner stood out for its straightforward approach, engendering sense of community and display of ecological intent. EDirector Antonis Petropoulos said: "Being recognised as the best responsible tourism website by the leading UK tourism professionals online community, is a milestone in Ecoclub's groundroots efforts to support and promote genuine ecotourism, with limited funds but unlimited passion".
TravelMole would like to congratulate the winners, thanks the sponsors and encourage those websites not nominated this year to participate in next year’s event. In short, here are the winners:
*Pictures of the presentations and full winner details are now live in the awards area on the TravelMole website at: http://www.travelmole.com/web_awards/web_awards_2005.php
Report by Ginny McGrath
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