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No 2001-3 -Tuesday, february 27, 2001

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  Historic Traveler takes up the historic segment online - Strategic analysis  

The launching of this new site appears interesting for several reasons, the first of which being the niche strategy that started off this new adventure in the eTourism sector.

Indeed, historic destination trips constitute one of the broadest segments in the travel industry. And yet, HistoricTraveler is the first site ever to use it as a proper "destination".

We are well aware that it would be very risky to try and launch a new BtoC general-interest site in the eTourism sector. As a good many pretenders are still competing in this specific sector , we can already anticipate a few deaths in the coming months.

This is why niche strategies remain among the last ones that might still be successful with only "normal" financial means.

This is how decided to commit itself to the History enthusiasts niche, by offering them a large range of products and services with a real legitimacy thanks to its partnership with Primedia Inc, a publishing company specialised in this sector.

Therefore, Internet users who visit will be able to book a historic trip online, which is the site's main goal, but they will also benefit from a great deal of online services such as an access to many history publications as well as numerous bibliographic elements. It goes without saying that the site takes advantage of all the Internet possibilities and also offers historic news as a whole, thus allowing enthusiast travellers to consult up-to-date files.

On the travel sector alone, HistoricTraveler mainly offers trips to museums, battlefields (beaches of Normandy/D-Day), historic homesteads but also other elements that are a little less warlike, such as an exploration of the roots of New Orleans Jazz through a cruise on a paddlewheel steamboat.

The site also offers a supplementary consumer-friendly element. It does not only propose package holidays but it also allows its visitors to compose a personalised program for their next historic trip, whether they do it on their own or with the help of professionals who work for the site.

This consumer-friendly orientation can also be seen through the right users gain as soon as they become members: they are allowed to send comments and suggestions. This "community" option perfectly fits the passion segment chosen by the site.

And yet, the site never forgets its commercial strategy as registered members receive exclusive discounts on the trips that are offered.

Another strategic element is that the historic legitimacy gained by the site through its partnership with Primedia (group specialized in history) is made even stronger off line via the launching of a quarterly print edition.


All in all, many elements that could well be the key to success can be noticed on this website:

  • Instant set up of an on/off line synergy. The HistoricTraveler printed version will be distributed as a supplement to six of Primedia's award-winning history publications to 500.000 readers.

  • Attack of a segment that remains rather untouched online but could still prove big enough to generate a turnover that might constitute a real business model all on its own.

  • Partnership with a leader that gives the site a real legitimacy at once.

  • Large offer: a few thousand trips are on offer as well as partnerships with a few hundred independent Tour Operators.

  • Through an established Internet knowledge, HistoricTraveler is produced by, the web's leading provider of extraordinary travel (over one million members and over 100.000 pages of content).

  • Serious back-up: Bank Wit, Gannet, Circle T Partners…

  • Strategic partners: Discovery, Expedia, USA Today, Primedia,, Alta Vista…

Even though online success does not amount to putting together a few positive elements, we can still consider that most of the criteria that could lead HistoricTraveler to success are gathered here.

You can also notice that, even for a niche, professionalism is still required when you want to succeed on line and that the time when people used to set out to succeed online by investing money on an unexploited segment is well over.

And yet, nobody can say for sure that HistoricTraveler will be a success. It will be up to travellers to decide whether or not the website will be successful.

Indeed, even though the idea might appear appealing, will it manage to prompt history enthusiasts to use services to book their coming trips? Will Internet users who were used to booking their trips on Travelocity or Expedia websites desert those sites to the sole benefit of HistoricTraveler?

No matter how appealing the challenge appears to be, we still have an unknown factor: no matter how wide the historic sector appears to be, it mainly belongs to the eldest category of travellers, who are among the people who least use the Internet.

On the other hand, these specific Internet users are well-off and can also travel all year long.

Let's hope that the last element will prevail because's strategy does appear attractive.

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