TELCO giant Telstra has moved into travel, emerging as a major industry force with the launch of GoStay by Sensis, its directories and online search division.
GoStay (www.gostay.com.au) is an accommodation listings and booking business Sensis has created in conjunction with Australian Online Travel, part of the AOT Group.
The move heralds a major strategic shift and follows rumours that Sensis tried but failed to buy online accommodation market leader, wotif.com.
Go Stay is effectively two products: a website and accommodation guidebook.
The website features 2000 properties supplied by AOT, while the guidebook features 5000 properties sourced by the Sensis sales team.
AOT, which owns the Needitnow.com.au and Travelmate.com.au wesbites, is providing fulfillment for both products through the website and a 1300 number.
Sensis has also signalled it wants to expand into other areas of travel, including air and car.
“Anything is possible,” said Jane Blackley, Group Marketing Manager, Verticals, at Sensis.
She said Sensis is looking at sectors that work across the online, print, voice and mobile platforms.
Meanwhile the company has unleashed a massive marketing campaign to support GoStay.
The campaign includes a record-breaking letterbox drop to 3 million Aussie households – almost half the Australian population.
“It’s the biggest distribution of a guide like this ever done in Australia,” Ms Blackley said.
GoStay marks the first time Sensis, which makes virtually all its revenue from advertising, has moved into retailing – a sign of things to come.
Parent company Telstra has been hit by consumers transitioning from fixed line phones to mobiles, and is looking at Sensis to drive extra revenue.
The Sensis sites – which include White Pages, Yellow Pages, Trading Post, City Search and many others – have around 2.5% of the Australian online market.
Microsoft (many sites) and Google (single site) lord it over everyone with around 20% total market share, according to the latest Hitwise stats on the market share of parent companies.
Yahoo! is on 9% followed by eBay (6.36%) News Corporation (2.97%) and Telstra (2.46%).
At present there are no pure travel companies in the Top 20.
Hitwise says ‘Destinations and Accommodation’ is one of the most popular internet categories with about 1% of total traffic.
The ‘Travel’ category comes in at 2.3%.