60 Seconds with Iloho.com

60 Seconds with Iloho.com

Iloho.com is a new online community that lets travelers share detailed advice and experiences about their travel around the world. You can check out the latest travel news, travel itineraries complete with geotagging, join group discussions, read in-depth airline reviews, search for flights and enjoy photos of worldwide landmarks. We recently spoke with Vinnie Pepi, Vice President of Product and Marketing from his office in Shanghai.

InsideFlyer
Since your launch in the U.S. in June, how has the response been?
Vinnie Pepi
We’ve been very pleased so far, we’ve seen a steady increase in user figures and page views, and increased user interaction within the iloho community. We’ve also had a great response from the media, with highlights including CNN, The New York Times and The Times of London.

IF
How are you getting the word out about iloho?
Vinnie
Through marketing campaigns and PR. We’re a start-up so we’re not working with huge marketing budgets at the moment, but we’re pleased with what we’ve accomplished so far and have been lucky enough to build up good relationships with a couple of influential travel blogs, such as Brave New Traveler and Travellerspoint, which have both been very helpful. Obviously we can’t thank Randy Petersen enough for his support through the WebFlyer Network and Flyertalk.com.

IF
What area of the site is the most popular with the iloho community?
Vinnie
Our travel news section is the most popular area closely followed by landmarks. On the travel news section users can link to and rate interesting stories they find from around the web — it’s a great bookmarking system for travelers — the content is constantly being updated and refreshed. The landmarks section allows users to upload photos of world landmarks, and we let our users create their own landmarks if they’d like. Once landmark pictures have been uploaded we follow up and geotag them so our visitors can easily browse through them using our mapping interface.

IF
How are you requesting feedback from the community?
Vinnie
We have an iloho group set up in the groups section of the site to act as a forum for any questions, feedback and suggestions from our users, but usually people just go ahead and email us. We love to hear back from our users and their responses are always helpful. Users are also able to comment on all travel stories, itineraries, landmark photos and airline reviews so we hope to collect feedback from our community through these channels as well. We’re a young site and we’re growing quickly so we really appreciate any feedback that people can give us.

IF
We understand that the site is for all types of travelers, from backpackers to business travelers. So far, would you say the community is leaning toward dungarees or business suits?
Vinnie
This is an interesting question. If you look at our most popular travel stories you’ll see that our users have voted most heavily in favor of news about hot deals and low cost travel tips; however the most popular travel groups focus on luxury travel, frequent flyers and shopping around the world, which hints at a more business focused audience. We have recently re-launched the airline reviews section of the site, which we think will be very interesting to business travelers who can come to iloho for fully comprehensive route information including in-flight entertainment options, internet connection availability and on-board menus. At the moment, the most popular airlines amongst our users are Cathay Pacific, JAL and Air Canada. If any of your readers differ in opinion we’d love for them to visit the site and write about their own in-flight experiences.

IF
We noticed that you have a countdown to iloho beta 0.4. What will we see when it launches? Any enhancements in the works?
Vinnie
Yes, this is an exciting time for iloho and we’re launching several new functions. From mid-October users will be able to navigate content by geo-location and we’ll have a great new profile section that introduces user rankings. Members will be able to build up their profiles and on-site credit, keep track of their activity and build a network of contacts within the community. We are also releasing a function that allows users to send stories from iloho to friends and to their blogs.

IF
We noticed your recent Landmark Photo Contest looks to be a success (www.iloho.com/contest). Can you share with us your plans to sponsor other contests?
Vinnie
First off, we might extend the landmarks contest, because the pictures we’re getting are great content for the site. We’d definitely like to run other contests, and right now we’re just tossing around a couple of ideas, but one would be a Christmas giveaway where people browsing the site, might suddenly get a gift box, and when they open the gift box, they would be given some fun little task to complete for a prize. We’re also looking into doing a profile building contest with our new profile section.

IF
What does “iloho” mean? How did the name come about?
Vinnie
We picked the name because research showed that people reacted well to it and that they remembered it too, which is always important for a new Web site! We think the name iloho projects a sense of fun and sounds welcoming (rather like “aloha”) which is the kind of place we want to be.

IF
How is your site different from other community travel sites?
Vinnie
All of our content is entirely user-generated, we’re powered by travelers for travelers, there’s no omnipotent editor waiting in the wings dictating what makes the homepage and what doesn’t; that’s entirely up to our users. Iloho is also unique in providing one roof under which travelers can review the latest travel news, look up and compare route reviews, book trips and engage in social networking.

IF
You have some impressive sponsors, including our own webflyer.com and flyertalk.com, and Japan Airlines and Oasis Hong Kong Airlines. Are there any new sponsors in the works you can tell us about?
Vinnie
Once beta 0.4 launches, we’ll be concentrating our efforts on selling perfectly targeted advertising space. Hopefully we’ll have announcements to make on that front soon!

For more information about iloho and to visit the site, go to http://www.iloho.com

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