20 September 2006

Skype seeks growth through large travel company

Free internet phone call service Skype is seeking a large UK travel company, such as a global distribution system, to champion its usage and gain further momentum within the sector.

Skype UK, Ireland & Netherlands market development manager Alistair Shrimpton said he was beginning to see the software make some headway within travel but predominantly among small businesses.

"In travel I'm seeing the fringe of what we saw in the small business arena before it really boomed for us. I'm seeing small, sharp entities realising that by offering it as a way for users to contact you, you get more business.

He continued: "Travel is a key category and we need a champion – someone like a Galileo or an Amadeus. There are huge cost savings and efficiency savings to be made."

He highlighted the other benefits of using Skype such as using it to send information, pictures and videos as well as for talking and instant messaging.

"When I reserved my holiday online my wife sent me a lastminute.com URL using Skype so that I could see it, click on it and buy it. We see so many people who get to the 'buy me' button but need someone else to help make the decision."

Shrimpton added that in some areas of the world Skype was becoming a 'default' technology with customers expecting companies to provide it as a means of communication.

He also cited examples where Skype is ideal for travel such as 'Skype call me' buttons on websites for users to contact a hotel, car-hire or other travel company. Shrimpton said he was already in discussions with a number of online travel companies to use Skype call me buttons on their websites and integrate them with call-centres.

Travel-themed Skypecasts are another good application for travel, enabling people to use the technology to share ideas about a destination, he said. In the UK, Skype claims three million registered users - 8% of the potential market.

Shrimpton said: "It is small and there is a long way to go but the market is bigger than where we are today."

eBay-owned Skype registers six new users worldwide every second and claims to be already picking up 7% of international call minutes.

[Source: Travel Mole, Report by Linda Fox ]

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