South Korean search engine inspires Thomas Cook content strategyNews / DistributionBy Linda Fox | March 20, 2014Share This article was originally published on Thomas Cook claims it is reaping the benefit of online content created via its Ask & Answer service launched last year.The tour operator's digital boss, John Straw, says there has been an uplift in conversion of 147%, a 9% increase in average booking value and 127% increase in engagement time on the website.He also says the industry should be locked up for its one-in-300 conversion rates blaming lack of content.Straw was speaking at the Travel Technology Initiative spring conference and says the plan is to roll out the Ask & Answer service really quickly because it is 'focused, relevant content.'He has often been quoted on the travel industry's lack of content and during the session pointed to how TripAdvisor dominates Google results getting more qualified traffic than everyone else put together because of its content.He also says Thomas Cook drew inspiration for the Ask & Answer service from South Korean search engine Naver which is based around questions and answers and 'trounces Google and Yahoo.' "Users come along and pose a question. It has harnessed the power of expert users and so we took it as our inspiration. We were in a situation with our users leaving our site with questions about their forthcoming holiday unanswered so we came up with Ask & Answer because of the lack of content."Share this quote Straw quoted numbers for a 12-week period when the service received 4,200 questions, had 1,550 answers voted as helpful and 1,350 packaged accommodations had at least one question and answer.He went on to attack brochures saying the four most evil words in the industry are 'minimum, viable selling content' with customers expected to part with large amounts of cash after seeing a couple of pictures and a few paragraphs of text. "I call it the counter content culture. What we are not managing to do is embrace the idea that content converts and that it does not cost anything meaningful to put additional content on the web."Share this quote Straw also cites trust as key for online conversion and says Thomas Cook is already seeing conversion go 'through the roof' via an experiment with Google Maps on resort landing pages.NB: Web content image via Shutterstock.