Archive for November, 2010

Have Fear of Heights Issues on Chairlifts? Try this video.

I saw this video floating around the interwebs earlier this year and just finally found an embeddable version. It’s of a crew heading up a 1700+ foot tall radio tower and they’re not exactly following OSHA standards for climbing. What do you think, does this put the scariest chairlift ride you’ve ever had to shame?

Infographic on Web Designers vs Developers

I’m sure that most everyone reading this blog has some experience in dealing with both web designers and developers – so, what think you, does this infographic ring true to you?!

Web Designers vs Developers

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You are most welcome to share this infographic with your audience.

Social Media Accounts Cartoon

“Ownership” of Social Media Accounts

Social Media Accounts CartoonI didn’t think too much about the whole firing of CNN’s Rick Sanchez until I happened upon this article contemplating about the “ownership” of the various social media accounts that were an integrated and essential component to Rick’s show on CNN. Now I understand that it’s great to have a single personality behind a brand, but this case obviously shows the pitfalls of what might happen if that person leaves the company. With the Rick Sanchez case, his accounts were branded to him so that with his leaving it wasn’t that damaging (at least in my opinion) to CNN. In fact, looking now, his account has now been renamed from @ricksanchezcnn to @ricksancheznews which still retains all of the followers that his old account had – interestingly the renamed account is not “verified by Twitter” any longer.

An example of a company social media account changing hands gracefully is the Comcast @comcastcares account. That account was established by a Comcast customer service employee, Frank Eliason, who grew it into a wonderful and very popular customer service portal. However, Frank has moved on to other opportunities, and has left the account in the hands of Comcast customer service.

These are both examples in which things worked out ok. What happens if an employee is in charge of a ski resort’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and has them attached to their personal email and for whatever reason that person leaves the resort? Certainly one would expect that employee to pass those accounts along to their former employer, but in an extreme circumstance they could easily hold onto the Twitter account, or perhaps change it to suit their purposes. Same with the Facebook Pages where the account would need another admin assigned to it to take over and remove the person that has moved on, thankfully, Facebook does allow the initial page creator to be removed, a fairly recent change.

PhoCusWright Day 3

Jeffery Boyd from Priceline

So, I had a great dinner conversation with James from Steamboat last night. It’s always neat to get the opportunity to sit and throw random thoughts and ideas back and forth with others in your industry in a relaxed atmosphere. Thankfully, this kept me from staying out too late and allowed me to easily make the breakfast “Bloggers Breakfast” where I got to chat more ski biz with PhoCusWright’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Bruce Rosard. There was a good chat about thoughts on the future of travel and I think most of us agreed that mobile is the future, but as to how it develops…hard to say! Here are the notes I jotted from this morning/early afternoon – great stuff, loved listening and learning!

PhoCusWright Conference Day 3

Rob Solomon – Groupon

Groupon travel is anytime you leave your front door            .

Gone from 1 million to 30 million subscribers

1 to 30 countries

Huge growth!

One weekend period, sold about $500k of hotel rooms for Fairmont SF.

Groupon is the fastest growing company ever (at this pt)!

Social, local, global, real-time is their focus.

Started out by optimizing on Facebook.

Social Network Optimization (SNO)

No travel brands in top 20 followed brands on Twitter or FB.

Unless you’re Priceline, Expedia, or HomeAway “re-think everything”, it’s the perfect time for it and it needs to be done.

Ecommerce is only about 6% of all commerce, so FB coming into the local deal space is no big deal.

Groupon has a wall of fame/shame in which there are magazine covers of Groupon with the fastest growing company, but also Friendster, Napster and other next big things that have disappeared.

Very hard business to do at scale even though it’s easy to start.

Groupon is looking to get very personalized in their offers – but will still only send one per person per day.

Pete Stein – Razorfish

How chaos has changed the world of marketing.

  1. Social Landscape is Growing
  2. Digital is Everywhere
  3. Price is now Transparent

Job of marketer has shifted from creating customers to creating ambassadors.

Verb your brand. (Best Buy – Twelpforce)

Make some signature moves (Hyundai – lose your job promo)

Move to always on (Ann Taylor Loft)

Need to build a fanbase ie Nike and then figure out what is relevant to those fans (Write the future campaign).

What sort of behaviors can a brand reward? Don’t need to be monetary…

Digital Darwinism – challenges

Budget

Lots of disparate groups have to work hand in hand – marketing, customer service, IT etc.

Marketers still get hooked on certain things like TV, PPC which stifles innovation.

Round table – courting chaos

Location based companies

Dara Khosrowshahi – Expedia

Not wanting to splinter content. Sees ancillary products as an opportunity. Job is to organize information in a useful way for consumers that only look for utility on a long term basis.

Tailwind of internet adoption is blowing very strongly around the globe.

Expedia is experimenting with social and looking for solutions to look in their core customers via it.

Interesting that Dara says that they are seeing mobile booking behavior that is different from desktop – booking in-market and with shorter lead times.

Bernard Solomé MassiveGood

Nice way to donate to worthy causes via micropayments. Interesting opportunity to tie-in for travel brands.

Private Sale sites

Bundling additional products with travel packages is popular. Example of doing so with ski packages and skis was brought up.

Airline panel

Have to say it’s a pretty big bummer to have this panel replacing the ITA keynote, would definitely been interesting, but certainly understandable that this isn’t offered in light of the pending Google acquisition.

The airline panel was pretty dry to me, but was interesting in light of the fact that it was AA, US Air and United talking about how they were ok with the ITA/Google deal, just concerned about the potential for Google to influence sales by virtue of their search sorting…

Jeffery Boyd – Priceline

Once again, when looking forward…most excited about mobile – it represents a unique opportunity for travel. Just need to take advantage of the unique opportunities that mobile devices afford.

Packages area great product and a differentiated one, but ex of Europe is one where people are using low cost carriers and building their own.

Priceline has an understanding w/suppliers that they (PL) has primarily customers that are leisure and looking for deals.

PhoCusWright Day 2

Day 2 of PhoCusWright brings yet another beautiful Arizona morning, and yes, I did sneak out to enjoy a quick run through the Kierland Westin neighborhood as the sun rose. Then it’s off to 3 morning Workshops and then this afternoon, the Center Stage part of the program begins. So, without further ado here’s what I’m checking out today.

9:00am – great to see a fellow (former Parkite) presenting this session – nice job Kevin!

Workshop #1

Exploring consumer behavior on the path to purchase

Expedia/Compete

Research – Expedia is at the top at bottom of the purchase funnel.

Nice example of OTA booking, someone from Pittsburgh bounced all around , even to visitsaltlake and utah.com  before booking on expedia.

Compete study – looked for people that booked a vacation package at an OTA and visited a DMA site w/in 45 days of purchase

# of visits to travel sites w/in the 45 days was 50! Almost 1 visit per day, but it is almost incremental exponential growth up to week of purchase, 20.1 that week. OTA is leading the visitation in every week leading up to purchase. Were always at least 1/3 of all visits.

Share of Expedia.com (when breaking out OTAs by brand) was 36% and all expedia properties was 50%!

Number of search referrals to travel sites made by package bookers 45 days before booking = 13 (27%) is pretty consistent. Of this, the share of category is dominated by planning and review and then DMOs. This shows that DMOs are primarily dependent upon search for their main traffic source.

At least half of this segment had DMO and OTA site up during the same session, of this sub-segment each member averaged at least 2 such sessions during the 45 days. In nearly 60% of these instances, Expedia was the OTA involved in the double session.

Expedia case study involved essentially a NOLA takeover of Expedia, with wallpaper and package placement.

  • Unaided awareness of NOLA as a travel destination rose 8-14%
  • NOLA as a possible destination rose 31-41%

11:10am Next workshop…

Workshop #2

Local Mobile Social

Location 3

Need a comprehensive campaign that combines a variety of online placements.

“Citations are the new link” in local listing optimization – any mention online of your business, with or without links.

Hmm, stats on the importance of negative reviews and their impact on consumers…seems pretty obvious and the recommended response of taking negative offline seems pretty obvious as well.

Don’t know that the  example of a 50% discount for a location based service will resonate with this audience, pretty sure most vendors are not going to be excited about dropping ADR even more.

Geez, another pretty obvious statement, send a user that clicks on a mobile ad to a mobile site, preferably one that’s designed for the mobile users’ device…hate to say it, but these things should be no brainers for anyone in the space.

On Site

SEO, use hCard, KML and rich snippets for optimal SEO.

Off Site

Submit to directories, get citations, encourage reviews.

A whitepaper with these items and more is available at location3.com/phocuswright

2:30pm Workshop 3 and now off to the Center Stage presentations – should be good!

Workshop #3

Consumer Sentiment Overload?

Experian/Carnival

29% of people use socnets to find relevant information and 25% use to find recommendations.

53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products with 48% delivering on their intention to buy that product!

Upstream sources of referrals for travel – 35% search, 23% travel, 6% social/forums, 5% email.

8% of traffic to cuise line sites is from social – highest in the industry.

Airlines receiving site traffic from Facebook – SouthWest leads the pack by almost double over JetBlue – lots due to the fact that they have a “Bags Fly Free” widget. Delta has a booking engine that helps, but they’re still 3rd. For hospitality, the large size of FB drives, repeat visitors to hotel sites – Marriott is the top hotel brand on FB, example of their Honeymoon gift guide widget, neat idea!

YucatanHolidays.travel used targeted FB promos to drive 22% of their site’s traffic from FB.

Users are actively searching for travel content – brands/destinations – within FB  per a custom analysis of FB internal searches.

Love it – email is the perfect compliment to social media initiatives. Email is third highest driver.

TripAdvisor is top review site.

Consumers are cross-referencing reviews while researching travel. But, despite broad availability searchers are not always finding relevant results. Lots of searches for airline and cruise reviews,  most traffic is going to TripAdvisor and Cruise Critic from these searches.

Takeaways:

SocNet/Forum category captured largest share of traffic in Oct w/travel at 6% of the mix.

Email is top driver of traffic for both travel websites as well as social networks.

Customers are actively cross-referencing reviews and UGC.

Carnival – Navigating the Seas of Social Networks

Had a social micro-site, but it’s much easier to use forums and UGC.

Have JohnHealds Blog is their cruise director who is the voice of Carnival – what happens if/when John leaves Carnival?

Carnival has 2 Twitter accounts – one for support and one for marketing – good pt of who wants to hear about another cruise if you need help!

FB fanpage has 382k fans, uses tabs for different promotions. Ex of using a tab to promote a new ship with all the new things it offers. Stays away from promotions, use that on the main site. Developed a FB cruise finder so that people don’t need to come to the main site, to find options, it will come to them.

The Splendor incident was the 3rd most popular search on Google on 11/9/10 day of the fire. On FB, they monitored intently, responded asap, but customer evangelists were also very quick to respond and back up the company!

6:10pm phew, I’m getting a bit whupped, probably getting up too early for a little jog, maybe staying up a bit late or perhaps a packed day of listening and learning, but I’m good for the last half hour stretch here…in any case, here’s all my notes from Center Stage, which has been

Center stage –

Philip Wolf intro is a lot of great quotes on the shift in travel and overall market trends to social and mobile. Best quote is, “The Mobile Social Web is the most powerful collaboration tool in the history of humankind!”

Last years’ innovators advice, basically is to stay focused and to make money!

It’s the vacation rental section of the program with Brian Sharples from HomeAway. Great lead in, “it’s always been chaos, we’ll all adapt and be ok.”

When HomeAway began, they took several months to examine where the market was.

Two models, old simple fee based is what HomeAway chose.

Travelers want choice, home owners want distribution. So while others were busy innovating, HA was busy buying. This is now come down to trying to create a global network. There’s been progress but there have been a lot of tradeoffs. Lots of dev goes to basics and not apps and the like.

Almost 30 million vacation inquiries across HA’s properties so far this year!

Goal is to increase the avg number of inquiries per property across their network.

HA therefore needs to start opening up and start navigating the new, by cherry picking new innovations.

HA is looking to bring in ecommerce – bought the two 2 biggest vacation rental property management software companies (buy, buy, buy).

IPad is the game charger in online mobile ecommerce, not phones, much easier to flip through photos and other media and then book on a tablet than on a phone!

Talkback w/ Julian Castelli of Vacation Roost and Erik Hovanec of Leisure Link

Vacation rental market at $100Billion world wide ($25-30 billion in US).

More vacation rental options with HA than OTAs have hotels…also less regulated than hotels, although that is changing. HA is involved in trying to shape implementation of rules/regs.

There are many markets where vacation rentals are the only way to go, but they do compete w/hotels in many others.

Sharples is the biggest critic of his companies’ own web properties (I have a similar feeling about the sites I help maintain as well).

75% of vacation rental business is families – value is the key.

HA advertised during the Super Bowl last year, and will do so again year.

What Google is looking to do in the hotel and airfare search sector isn’t there currently – shouldn’t be a problem, at least now…

HA doesn’t dip much into the “hotel” keyword ppc, too pricey, looks like they play hard in vacation rental terms, top of the list for that phrase. Search is definitely huge for them.

Majority of the customer of one of the software companies that HA recently bought are still on DOR! Coming from my background, that must be the former First Resort Software?

Wow, out of 6000 vacation rental managers in the US, 4000 are customers of HA!

Interview with Steve Hafner of Kayak

Goal of Kayak is to improve the online travel experience. Friction pts are still there in OTAs. Assisted booking is a first step, launched for mobile.

Pain point for consumers on Kayak is when they’re redirected to the supplier and have to re-enter info.

Kayak on mobile is good, but the purchase path is lacking in mobile.

Interesting that web devs for Kayak are 35+ and mobile are under 25, lots more movement in mobile dev for that reason.

Kayak started its 2 yr offline campaign last October and are already seeing results!

Wishing they would have launched sooner in Asia than they did.

Mobile path is the experience that Kayak is highly focused on.

Interview with Baney Harford of Orbitz and Hugh Jones of Travelocity

Barney emphasizes the growth of mobile.

Hugh echoes Hafner on the iPad and tablets being booking tools.

Major thing is making trip planning is simpler with a a mobile app – per Barney.

Orbitz working on a very in-depth recommendation engine w/rich data analysis – like your very best personal travel agent.

Per Hugh, Google is important in travel and is where they need to be, Travelocity does participate with Google Maps.

Google is dominant in search and w/the acquisition of ITA they will now be dominant in travel search, which will result in OTAs needing to spend more for customer acquisition and drive up travel costs – per Hugh.

Google-ITA leads Orbitz to how a customer gets to their site, not necessarily about increased cost of acquisition.

AA-Orbitz deals is forcing companies to access AAs info directly as opposed to through a GDS.  From Hugh it’s about shifting costs from supplier to intermdediary and ultimately to consumer…

Keynote from Richard Barton Expedia’s founder and first CEO.

“Entrepreneurs among us”

Power to the people – if it can be known, it will be known. If it can be rated it will be rated.

Nice to here him saying that there is no hiding on the internet – good intro to Glassdoor.

Keeping with that theme, jumps to Zillow and how it shows home pricing around the country.

Then to, if it can be rated, it will be rated – Avvo is a way to find a physician or attorney. Then there’s RealSelf which rates medical procedures…uh, ok.

www.travelpost.com/beta

Barton disagrees w/Hafner about social being overhyped, thinks it may be underhyped.

It’s all about building product that really wows people. – Barton on if he were still running Expedia. Also, not spending on advertising forces to concentrate on product quality. “When companies spend on advertising they get lazy on product.

Jeff Clarke Travelport (Galileo/Worldspan)

Global travel search market is huge and much bigger than domestic…travelport does the traffic of Kayak (9 months worth) in 10 days.

New ways to interact with customers online and across multiple platforms – social/mobile.

Travel chaos is open system vs closed – ie opaque vs transparent.

Role of the GDS is to negotiate on behalf of it’s agents (65k) in the case of Travelport.

Clarke says industry consolidation is good in general – not specifically talking about Google/ITA though, could be good, but also dangerous.

6:40pm – just finished for the evening, here’s the last bit w/Stephen Kaufer – wow, great day!

Stephen Kaufer – TripAdvisor

Being able to go fast and drive execution efficiencies does not slow down as you get bigger.

Try a bunch of stuff, but be sure to cut off the things that aren’t working.

Talking about a Groupon style component that they’ve developed, non-competitive w/Groupon in Kaufer’s opinion.

No excuse to not have a culture of fast iteration.

Interesting pt about first page or two of results can be readily influenced by social integration.

Love to hear someone else say how often Facebook changes their API – Kaufer just said that they’re great to work with but somewhat frustrating due to how often they change API.

PhoCusWright Live!

PhoCusWright Day 1 Travel Innovation Summit

This will be a “live blog” style post from day 1 of the PhoCusWright conference – which is the Travel Innovation Summit. So without further ado, here goes!

Updates are somewhat delayed due to wifi issues, but we’re on (after I finally got my phone paired too):

Voyavo –

Users don’t just want to fly to a hotel room and then stay there – they want to do all sorts of various activities…ability to aggregate trip planning amongst friends. Pulls activity info from a variety of APIs. Allows brands to integrate into their system, seems a bit like a white label opportunity.

TrustYou –

Provides semantic analysis of reviews (text) via copy/paste.

Seems like another social review mashup, but w/semantic capabilities. Search/Structure/Analyze. Want to be an infrastructure provider for what appears like hospitality sites to social. Social semantic search. Lots of international integration.

Revinate –

For hospitality industry…100% specialized for hotel space. Monitor and guide hotels in how to take action. Good move in that many brands just don’t have expertise, time, etc to learn this sort of thing. Property level reports and corporate level.

Amadeus –

Integration solution for travel management companies. Get control of data problems. What are the data problems? Very corp travel centric.

Movitas –

Mobile site…BlueMountain (sorry, lost a chunk of notes due to lack of connectivity).

Inntopia –

Focused on how inntopia allows for bundling in realtime on results page, ie whistler solution.

Silverrail Technologies –

Rail booking engine, sorry, not a lot of interest in this at this time, taking a quick break, back in a moment!

11:00am View from the “side stage”!

PhoCusWright Live!

1:00pm back from lunch and catching up!

OneRez –

From procurement industry…

Pulling together small brands to gain incremental revenues via franchise model.

Focused on small business – coming from a government perspective want to be the go-to place for online travel procurement.

Moby –

Saw this at the Search Insider Summit in Park City last year. Interested to see where it’s at now. Organizes local info and tags it – photos/reviews/etc. Not just bookmarks, but “information rich cards” that are shareable. Pulls info from friends on FB – don’t have to learn a new behavior! Their mobile integration is trying to “be there with people in that moment of decision.” Seems like w worthy goal to me! Had another good pt about checkins being too late as they are after a travelers decision has already been made.

AFAR media –

Making sense of reviews – finding relevant information for the person planning online travel. Based upon location and travel profile – then matches with a local expert that shares similar interests. Offers badges as a user helps others…seems a bit out of context as it seems to me that the process of helping others is probably why someone would want to use this site. Leveraging off their magazine subscriber base – interesting off/online marketing plan.

Flymuch –

“Will forever change the way we search for travel.” Wow, pretty strong stuff for an intro…consolidates and pulls together pricing and reviews, nice, but not a game changer IMO. No mobile yet, still a young company.

1:50pm next batch – btw, I’m debating heading to a PhoCusWright research session in an hour or so and may skip the last batch of innovators…I’ll be sure to blog about things either way!

Using Miles –

Creating a tool to solve the issue of how to track various loyalty accounts and not lose anything from their expiring accounts.

Everbread –

Haystack product, ”the world of one” is not where people want to be, want to be in the “world of freedom” – this is a world in which there are multiple ways of doing business. “We search you sell. We are an enabler”

E-Channel Search –

Interesting approach to SEM for travel – dynamic ads served to Google, Microsoft etc. Example of a client that simply served up better and more targeted ads with much better ROI. Seems much like what any dedicated SEM agency should do.

Mileblaster –

Meta search rewards recommendation engine, similar to Flymuch in terms of loyalty programs, but operates on it’s own site. Is a pay to play model, wonder how consumers will accept, needs to show a lot of value to be successful.

Off and away –

Kind of groupon concept for travel, but over a variety of time frames. Bidding works similarly to ??? can’t recall which retail site, but one w/extended time for each bid. Consumers do get to keep bid dollars that don’t win for later use. Very affluent consumers on this site so far…

4:00pm more!

Cruiselabs –

“Booking a cruise online is too difficult.” Isn’t that true of pretty much any online vacation?

Groundlink –

A way to add ancillary revenues to hotels and attractions. Open Table equivalent of ground transportation booking.

Kony –

Mobile software development company. Single application dev platform with all dev ported out to different mobile platforms. Begs the question of why not just develop a rich media mobile site?

Gekko –

Seems like another take on aggregation of pricing/review content, for hotels using Kosmix-like mouseovers. Interesting, but does require publisher to install the software. Perhaps a plugin with this sort of information and options would be good?

Kukunu –

Ah yes, the key stat, 50% of all travelers struggle with planning. Another take on travel planning/collaboration – purely b-c at this point in time.

5:25pm Hmmm, thinking I must be wearing down, here’s my latest batch of updates:

Sonata Sofware –

Pricing strategy for the travel industry. Not quite what I am interested in from the ski resort perspective, more slanted towards hotels/transportation.

Limos.com –

Sorry, but yet another company that just really isn’t in my area of interest.

Vayant –

Flight search and find  – air ticket distribution platform.

TripTelevision –

Provide the right video for the right destination at the right time…using local videographers’ 90% unused video. Looking to provide on-demand content across a variety of distribution networks. Want to associate video content to brands…not so focused on new/fresh.

Stash Hotel Rewards –

A way for independent hotels to still reward travelers with rewards currency. Interesting concep to allow small boutique type properties to compete w/larger chains.

Lixto –

Harvests pricing info for pricing intelligence. Cool data extraction program, allows someone to visually browse through a competitor’s site to scrape pricing. Also uses crowdsourced labor to grab updates, because other sites are so variable/changeable.

6:30pm phew – last presenters are done and now we can all sit back and ruminate on all the innovations that have been presented. Don’t know that I’ll do a wrap up other than posting the last batch of summaries:

Vacation Relation –

Who cares about your vacation? Not your friends, but the other people on the trip.

Bonvoy –

Shared moments is what traveling with your friends is all about. This is a Facebook app that allows a group to consolidate their travel planning via FB. Simple integration and some nifty tools to help w/group planning and splitting of costs.

Hipmunk –

Flight metasearch site, sort by “agony” is an awesome, although somewhat gimmicky sort option. Very interesting to see that they are a Y Combinator company – see http://ycombinator.com/ for some info on this very innovative startup incubator.

Gogobot –

When planning a vacation, people want advice from friends. Streamlines recs from FB friends and Twitter followers. Seems to have a leg up w/investments from people like Eric Schmidt from Google.

CorporateO –

Visual presention of topics w/social tie-in.

5 days and counting…

I can’t hardly wait, can you?!

Why Conferences?

It’s interesting to me to see how much information is available online for marketing professionals to further their knowledge. This has only been further enhanced with social networks giving marketing professionals the ability to connect, share ideas and knowledge in ways that were simple impossible just a few years ago. With this shift, it would seem logical that conferences would become less popular as they are displayed by their online counterpart. However, this certainly doesn’t seem to be the case with the upcoming PhoCusWright Conference that I’m attending next week, in that over 900 attendees are already listed on the  conference site, which to me seems like there’s a high level of interest, at leaset in this particular travel conference. Check out the nifty trailer they’ve produced (I asked, and last I heard, Brian Olsen, the artist in the video, isn’t going to be demonstrating – I’m kind of bummed on that):

This all is leading to why I think that attending at least one conference every year or so is something that all marketing professionals should try to do. The thought behind this is to get out from behind the desk and try to get some new and different perspectives on trends and new ideas that might not be found even with all of the online opportunities that abound. I would also argue, that it’s good to look for conferences outside of your particular niche sometimes as that might be the way to find the idea that no other business in your vertical has implemented yet.

So, while I’m planning for PhoCusWright 2010, I’d like to put out two very different questions that I’d love to get your thoughts on:

  1. If any of my readers have attended a prior PhoCusWright Conference, I’d love to hear if you have any tips or suggestions that I should take into account when attending?
  2. What conferences are you planning, want to or have atttended in the past and how was it?

Thanks in advance, and let this also be a warning to those that follow me on Twitter, there will be a lot of conference related Tweeting going on from the 16-18th of this month, hopefully you’ll some kernels of wisdom in them!

Two Timely and Interesting Research Reports

I found these two quite different posts on different travel and technology to be of interest, so without further ado, here’s an excerpt from each and if you’re teased enough to read-on, please click through the original source to read the rest of the post.

First, is an post on flash sales in travel by the always insightful Peter Yesawich on the ypartnership blog:

Given the frenetic pace of contemporary life it probably comes as no surprise that more Americans are taking “last minute” vacations. Simply coordinating schedules to get time away from work represents a greater obstacle than the actual cost of the trip for many travelers today. But who would have guessed that three out of every ten (27%) took a last minute trip last year? Equally surprising, who would have surmised they planned those trips an average of just six days prior to their departure?

Visit the full post to read more and see a chart with further statistics. I wonder if this flash sale phenomenon will continue through the winter travel season – my guess is, based upon this research – yes.

The second piece of research is a report from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, which if you haven’t bookmarked the Pew site, I would suggest you do so immediately. The research is on how many people use location based services and it found:

In its first report on the use of “geosocial” or location-based services, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project finds that 4% of online adults use a service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows them to share their location with friends and to find others who are nearby. On any given day, 1% of internet users are using these services.

Download the complete report here. I think this could change fairly dramatically as Facebook increases their Places component, but I also wonder how connected many people really want to be in terms of geo-location – it certainly seems like the tipping point for this could be on the near horizon.

Gears and wheels

How to Blog More Industriously (or at Least Make it Appear That Way) part 2/2

Gears and wheelsIn part one of “How to Blog More Industriously (or at Least Make it Appear That Way)”, I describe a number of tools that I’ve found helpful to keep a blog full of content and now I’d like to share some of the tools I use to come up and keep content ideas handy – basically, how to keep things linked together. First and foremost, I do a lot of social bookmarking to help me remember topics that I read about that I think I might want to blog about eventually. I’ve used Delicious for years, but have been recently been testing out diigo as a bookmark tools with some more depth. I also use Google Reader as a social bookmark tool too, but find that it’s much more fitted as the RSS feed reader that it was originally designer for, and still functions exceptionally well –  I also personally love the fact that I can access the mobile Google Reader on my phone and read and keep up with my favorite blogs on the run.

In addition to simply bookmarking, there are also tools like Evernote, which allow a user to take screen shots, clip sections or even save an entire web page to your account. You can then tag entries as potential blog ideas, or todos and then return to them to flush the idea out further, save for later or perhaps even use as support for a different post. Another super useful element of Evernote is that you can load the plugin on browsers on multiple computers as well as an app on you phone and all will synch to the same database.

A tool that I haven’t used as often recently as I used to for finding interesting topics is Stumbleupon. I think that SU is one of those web services, like Reddit and Digg, that you either like and get, or don’t. Basically, it somehow matches what you’ve liked in the past along with your network and then shows you a list  of interesting sites that other users have Stumbled – not always the best blog content ideas, but certainly some interesting sites and content – I mean serious, check out these paper cut rolls, they’re pretty darn cool!

Photo credit: Flickr user ShuttrKing|KT
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