December 20, 2007

Activity Pre-booking? Who Does It?

Have you found that booking an activity or tour is the last step in a tourists' travel plan? Quite often, independent tourists will wait till they arrive at a destination before they consider what activities and tours they want to take.

Is this changing? Are people now pre-booking their tours and activities before they depart to a destination?

There are large online travel agencies (OTA) sites like and now gives tour suppliers the opportunity to add their tours and activities to the websites. While this will definitely help the tour company with distribution, it will also lower their margins. I posted some research in August that really put this in perspective.

While it may be difficult for companies to sell directly to consumers, there is a growing trend towards direct booking with a co branded online reservation engine. (Predicted to be 62% of all bookings by 2008) Small tour companies have to realize that the money payed in commissions to online travel agencies could go to driving traffic to their own websites, this would lower margins and give the tour provider greater control of their inventory and advertising message.

What distribution channels have you found to be the most useful? Are you selling your tours through Expedia or Travelocity?

December 17, 2007

Travel Technology Review Podcast

The Travel Technology Weekly Review is, as you can imagine, a weekly review of the latest happenings in the Tourism Technology industry. We examine the latest trends, research, sites and happenings in the the Tourism Tech world.

Put my show and this player on your website or your social network.

Stephen first talks about, it gives travelers the ability to bookmark their own sites to make a travel guide.

He then talks about and how have partnered to allow site users to book hotels while browsing user generated content

Stephen finishes his commentary with a study conducted by the Kelsy group and how user generated reviews effect customers spending habits. Thanks to Joe Buhler for brining this to our attention.

In my segment of the Podcast I talk about research my friend Claude Benard found from Fabernovel regarding Facebook applications.

I then discuss a new Beta travel guide site, Nile Guide. This site has the potential to revolutionize the travel guide industry, you should check it out.

Lastly I cover some observations from the ever wise Vicky Brock regarding the influence of social media on online reservations.

December 11, 2007

Interviews from PhoCusWright

Last month PhoCusWright (PCW) hosted their annual conference in Florida. These conferences bring the biggest names in the travel technology industry together in one place to talk shop, talk trends, and make great contacts within the industry. This year PCW held the first Travel Industry Bloggers Summit at their conference. This included a blogging workshop, several bloggers meet ups, a release of our book, The Tips From the T-List, and extensive press coverage for a select group of travel industry bloggers. had the privilege of attending this conference as hosts of the workshop and the blogger meet up, and as blogging press. We were able to gain great content from the conference and here are some video Interviews that we conducted at the workshop:

Tom Botts from Hudson Crossing, LLC

Kevin May, Editor at

Eric Bjorndahl, CEO

We were able to conduct more interviews, and they will be featured in future blogs.

If you attended, what were your take aways from the conference? Did you find that most presenters stuck with the "Braving the Long Tail" theme?

Google + Travel = Troogle?

Tim Armstrong just finished his talk on Google and Travel at the PhoCusWright conference in Orlando. His talk was an overview of the industry and gave some great insights on how Google was working towards optimizing the user experience.

He gave a background into Google's “The wisdom of crowds” philosophy; letting the brainpower of the world make your product better. He stated "If you don't have the wisdom of the crowds in your business, then you are missing a major piece of business."

Google strives to use the wisdom of the crowds to connect the right consumer, at the right place at the right time with the right process and right product. The product he was focusing on is Travel.

Google values the travel market and handles 22% of all Travel all inquiries. That is quite huge, of the billions of the travel postings out there, 22% of them originate with Google.

Tim broke peoples searches down to the their life patterns, in that people get different types of information at differing times in the day. For example:

6am Morning Info - browse blogs and news items

7am Drive time commute - Radio and Blackberry

Google is trying to connect with the consumers with their mechanical day and several of their products (reader, gmail, blogsearch, news) help facilitate that.

Tim was then faced by an industry panel consisting of:
  1. Rob Torres, Managing Director, Travel, Google Inc.
  2. Jim Kovarik, GM of AOL Travel
  3. Jasper Malcolmson, Vice President and General Manager, Yahoo! Travel and Shopping
Jasper Malcolmson asked the question that was on my mind, "Troogle? When are you getting into the travel business?"

Tim -

"I don't think there will be a Troogle. There are some spaces that are clear, and they anticipate that. Google would have a hard time doing super specific business. We would love to get travel info to the customer faster, but they are not planning on tackling the market specifically."

Do you buy it, will we see Google selling travel anytime soon?

December 6, 2007

The 5 Essentials for Online Video Tutorials

I have been creating tutorial videos for Rezgo recently and have viewed several others on the internet, here are some essentials for making effective and interesting tutorial videos:

  1. Smile when you talk - You can really tell the difference in your voice if you are smiling or if you have a straight face. No one wants to listen to 10 minutes of droning.
  2. Zoom in - Don't have a full screen perspective for your entire video, show some movement and move the video frame to where the action is.
  3. Highlight your pointer - It is difficult to follow a small pointer in a small video screen, add some highlight to help the viewer follow your mouse.
  4. Add music - A little background music helps to fill in those pauses in the voice, it shouldn't be too distracting, but should still be upbeat.
  5. Keep it short - Break up you tutorials into small digestible chunks. Don't assume that people have an hour to setup a system or account, break it up. There is a sense of accomplishment in completing small steps along the way, your viewers will appreciate it.
Here is what I have done thus far, you can see the progression of my own work as the first tutorials don't use all of my suggestions, but they get better with experience. What do you think?

December 3, 2007

wCities and the Mobile Guide

Recently at PhoCusWright 2007, I was introduced to a company that is leveraging the power of mobile devices with travel guides, this company is wCities. This San Fransisco based company is making inroads in the convergence of traditional media with technology.

Gone are the days of the cumbersome destination guide, now all the information you need on attractions, events, hotels, movies and nightlife for a growing number of cities all around the world can be loaded into your iPod, mobile phone, or Blackberry.

In addition to their text based city guides, wCities also offers a variety of map based programs that can be loaded to a mobile phone. Their Wayfinder Navigator combines the power of a GPS receiver with local attractions and activities. This is were I can see a great value for traveling consumers. Get notified of attractions, restaurants and other highlights of the area that you are currently in. What is also great is that the Wayfinder software will voice guide you to the location of your choice.

Here is a review of the iPod travel guide for San Francisco:

Do you think that mobile guides are the future?

Do you think will own this market?