When did you start planning the site?
We started planning the site in October 1995 but we didn't work on it too much until May this year. It went up in early June.
Who designed it?
I worked with Albert Hampson, business manager for hotel services, and John Simms, head of hotel services, on a storyboard concept. We brought in a third party, Net Info, to create the pages. The data comes from an Ingres relational database and is piped out into flat files, which pass through a Lotus Notes process to generate 10,000 Web pages on a Windows NT server. The site is updated monthly although we could do it every day.
What was the hardest thing about getting your site up on the Web?
Convincing the directorate to give us money.
What future benefits will it provide?
The eventual benefit will be greater awareness of the AA's accredited hotel scheme. You have to show you're progressive in technology as well as commercially.
What future developments do you anticipate?
We will link the site to online booking services and special areas for members only - online routeing services, mapping information and car test reports, perhaps. It could mean creating an AA service worldwide with 50 million members instead of 10 million.
Would you like to start charging for the information?
Of course we would. That's why we're looking at extra benefits for members only. After all, CompuServe and AOL are club concepts too.
What's your favourite Web site?
Alta Vista has to be one of them - it's the best of the search engines.
And Paul's Beer Page is quite good.
What's the most important thing about the Internet?
The global village of shared information. When we're explaining the Internet to people in the company, we just ask them: what do you want to know?
We've never failed to find anything on any subject. It's a monstrous beast, full of information.
How much traffic does your site receive?
We measure people, not hits. Hits are meaningless. In an average week we receive 6,500 to 7,000 visitors. The site went live on a Sunday evening and by Monday morning we'd had a call from a hotel owner who was delighted to have received his first Internet booking.
What's your advice to other businesses who are thinking of getting on the Web?
Just try it and see. If you don't you'll never get the real benefits.
Don't be frightened of it. It can't bite you.
ROFL "Banks have been around for years and used to get robbed a lot. People didn't stop putting money into them."
Jim Clark - not the dead racing driver but Netscape's CEO, explaining why in his opinion Internet security isn't an issue, in his keynote address to the Gartner Group's IEC conference Suppose the highways were like the Net ... AOL would be a giant diesel-smoking bus with hundreds of ebola victims on board, throwing dead wombats and rotten cabbage at the other cars, most of which have been assembled at home from kits."
An unnamed staffer in the AOL productions department.
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