AOL Travel Brands the Hell Out of Their Party

My final morning in Hollywood found me out on the terrace, yakking into my cellphone about business and the opportunities which presented themselves out here at this remarkable show. Last night I attended the final party of the show, AOL’s Moonlight Bash, where a swish nightclub was transformed into a fury of advertising messages for the big internet company’s new iteration called Platform A. The bartenders wore shirts with the PA logo, the napkins bore the message, cards strewn about the bar lauded the vast reach and power of the AOL brand. Giant balls pulsed with the message, no opportunity to sell was left undone.

On the dance floor there were giant screens extolling AOL’s dominance, as owners of The Number One Travel Site in the World (by pageviews) Mapquest. I met a very thin and pretty woman who worked in New York who heads up a team of eight managers who sell this vast collection of eyeballs, again she said it was the largest audience on the web today. I asked her if this was the right place for them, since all the messages seemed aimed at big advertisers and we were mostly web geeks. “Many of our clients and partners are here, so yes, ” she answered.

As the music blared, I got a chance for a few final conversations with these travel web people whom I admire and am sometimes envious of. Ken Leeder runs a site that publishes user-generated travel content and is located between Google and Facebook in Northern California. He said that at one time it was so cheap to use Indian developers that you could have two guys do the same thing and if one got it wrong, well, you have the other’s work to use. But now the cost is much higher, and the good developers are job hopping, so there is about a 200 percent turnover rate. That makes it tough because the same people never finish the jobs.

I have big aspirations for GoNOMAD…and coming out here makes me both inspired and daunted by the tasks ahead. I look forward to seeing where we are in November 2009 when I come to the next Phocuswright show in Orlando. Stay tuned!