Sta_travel_widgetsLast December, Newsweek predicted that 2007 would become "The Year of the Widget." In many ways, this prediction is turning out to be an accurate one. Realizing that online users are constantly looking for ways to personalize their Internet experiences, consumer-focused companies are creating innovative new widgets in an attempt to engage their customers online:

"If you sit in front of a computer at work, chances are there are certain Web sites that you monitor throughout the day, every day — to check e-mail, weather, stock portfolios or sports stats. But, thanks to widgets, taking multiple steps to track down headlines in one place and then check your e-mail in another may seem woefully outdated this time next year. These mini-applications—also called “gadgets”—are simple bits of code, easily dragged onto a desktop or pasted into a personal page, where they are constantly updated with whatever information you want... Think of it as tech jewelry—bling for your blog; ice for your desktop."

Recognizing that the Web is moving from a "push" to a "pull" model, STA Travel has become an early adopter of using widgets as part of their online marketing strategy. By bringing the Web to their customers in an easy and customizable fashion, the company hopes to encourage travel bookings on its Website. The Dallas-based travel company has launched four online travel tools that help make the vacation planning experience as easy as possible: a Travel To-Do List; a Weather Comparison widget; a Special Travel Offers widget and a Trip Countdown widget. Each of these widgets can then be personalized and customized according to the tastes of the user. (For example, if you're flying to the Caribbean for vacation, you can customize the widgets with a beach theme.)

Anyway, if you're not familiar with widgets and how they are being used in an increasing number of ways by companies, be sure to check out this comprehensive summary of widgets by new media expert Mark Glaser for PBS.

A big hat tip to my colleagues at electricArtists who were instrumental in conceptualizing and bringing to market these widgets for STA Travel.

[image: STA Travel Tools]