Posts tagged google

Design and How to Do It

I’m not a designer, but as an online marketer I find myself often looking at the how content can best be presented to visitors. It’s clear that there are now many devices and ways that users can interact with content and that there needs to ways to have it look and act consistently across these devices and interaction methods. A new and rapidly evolving option to accomplish this is Google’s Material Design which they call “…a visual language for our users that synthesizes the classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.”

Here’s a quick intro clip of Material Design elements:

And here’s a much deeper panel discussion introduction to Material Design:

Watch, think and plan for your next projects, material design might not be the right fit for everything, but it’s a great way to frame new ideas and projects.

Hipmunk search result screen

Travel Search Data

I’ve beaten the Google drum quite a bit, but Google is by no means the end all be all of search. There are plenty of searches happening on other search engines (did you know the current number 2 is YouTube – owned by Google of course), searches via other mediums like driving directions, search done in-app on mobile devices and searches done for things other than web pages.

Travel search is an area that Google has entered for things such as flight and hotel search, but there are several sites that are providing some very interesting variations travel search results page. I first came upon Hipmunk almost 3 year ago at PhoCusWright, and the site has really gained some traction since then. Their main differentiator is that they sort their flight results initially by what they call, “Agony”, which is “…a combination of price, duration and number of stops.” Definitely a nice way to sort flights for those of us who are not fans of multiple airport connection hops:

Hipmunk search result screen

That’s some helpful stuff, but what I have had a lot of fun checking in on is the travel search dataset that flight search site Hopper is sharing via their Hopper Research. I first found this when they posted about the cheapest way to fly to all 30 major league ballparks – can you believe that it was just under $2,400?! That’s criss-crossing the country, as they worked off of MLB schedules and the 14,154 mile cheap trip checked in at $2,368 while the 9,004 mile trip wound up at $2,970. Perhaps baseball isn’t your cup of tea, then try their tool for finding the best deal to follow your favorite NFL team on the road. If you are more into outdoor adventure, then take a look at their Adventure Planner which lets you select from hiking, biking, camping, diving, kayaking and surfing and then see several top locations for your favorite activity overlaid with the best airfares to nearby airports. Finally, my favorite Hopper tool is the ability to see reports on flights from a selected airport, or flights between certain city pairs. This is something like what Farechase used to offer before Bing removed those results from their Bing Travel, but they are better in that they have more detail and depth are worth exploring to see what trends are going on in the world of travel. See below for a chart of the cheapest flights from Salt Lake City and digging deeper into the report shows routes with the highest demand and capacity – good things to know and keep on top of for any destination marketer – thanks Hopper!

Hopper SLC report

Don’t be Afraid to Fail

“Don’t be afraid to fail” is a common refrain in business. It’s one which is easier to say than to do. This is why it’s so interesting to see how one of the most powerful companies in the world, Google, really does act out this mantra.

As a recent example, here’s a recent Google+ post in which it was announced that Google search results will no longer display authorship results:

Google has used authorship as a ranking factor in their search results dating back to about 2011, but they have been phasing it out over the past year or so. There’s a great read on the history of authorship for search in Search Engine Land if you want to know more about how this project came about and then wound down.


To see how many projects have been “retired”, I do hesitate to call them “failures”, see the list of products from Google on Wikipedia and see the “Discontinued Products and Services Section.” It is quite impressive and quite telling in that many of the products have made re-appearances or been incorporated into other successful projects.

A company with the resources and size of a Google can afford to have many of their efforts not fully succeed because they have so many that do succeed and several that wind up being home runs or even moon shots. But, every company should remember that they cannot succeed until they have tried and not being afraid to fail is the first step in this process.

Travel Infographic

Travel Shifting Across the Screens

I’ve found a lot of great research that’s been published in the past few months (I’ll be posting my favorites in the coming weeks), and one of my favorites is this piece from thinktravel with Google. I am fascinated by the multi-screen usage by day part chart (if you haven’t made serious effort to ensure your web presence accommodates various screens besides desktop, just stop reading now). In addition the major increase in mobile usage by leisure travellers certainly should be of interest to resort marketers as well. One of the big question this presents is just how fast the adoption for booking on mobile will be and also how the 60-70% of mobile (OTA) bookings being same day certainly shows the potential for ski resorts to sell via mobile as well.


Travel InfographicGraphic from: thinktravel with Google


Multiple screens – a challenge for any marketer

I’m writing this post on my laptop while watching a football game on my satellite served TV, with my tablet next to me on the coffee table and my smart phone charging in the kitchen. Once the football game is over I’ll probably grab my tablet to do some reading and when it’s time to head over to a friend’s house for a part, I’ll grab my phone on which I might Instagram a photo of the party, or at least keep in touch if there are any pressing emails.

I’m not at all unique in my constant switching from one media device to another. There is a wonderful report from Google about some of the marketing impacts of this, and the highlights are covered in this great infographic from Google/Ipsos/Sterling:

Click for full-size image

What are the implications for ski resort marketers? To me, there are many, ranging from how skiers and riders plan their trips, to how they use media while they are at the mountain to how they share their experiences once they’re done…and these things all flow from one screen to another to another. I’m not going to line out how I see this happening here, but I think it goes without saying that if your web presence isn’t optimized for all of these screens, you’re in trouble, and if your campaigns aren’t moving across all screens (uh, can we say Flash ads), then you’re probably not set well either…it’s a fast changing world out there and this is certainly a trend that resort marketers must pay close attention to – note the 43% of people planning trips cross over devices.

Are there any ski resorts out there doing a particularly good job of this?

SEO Table

Checking in with Danny Sullivan and SLC|SEM

One of the benefits of living and working in Park City is its close proximity to Salt Lake City and the benefits of a metropolitan area – like professional organizations. A great new(er) organization in Salt Lake City is SLC|SEM, a group dedicated to search marketing – a fairly geeky specialty but one which is increasingly important as travel planning shifts more and more online. I’ve meant to get to one of their monthly meetings but between work and family commitments I’ve been unable until this past Wednesday, which happily was an event which featured a talk by Danny Sullivan, the head of Search Engine Land, and evidently an ardent snowboarder who has discovered that Utah does indeed have the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

Danny opened with a nice rundown of how search engines have evolved over the years, which he highlighted via the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors:

SEO Table The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors

This is definitely a useful visual summary of the various ranking factors that go into search engine rankings and one that is continually evolving.

From here the talk moved to current state of search – obviously Google dominates, but social search is evolving (although frustratingly fragmented with Google on its own, Twitter off to another side and Facebook in with Bing) and mobile is another fast-moving area with apps providing a very interesting space for search to evolve further as well. He mentioned using Foursquare as a discovery tool, or shaking the Urban Spoon app as ways that search has moved from the “Search Box”.

He also provided some insights in how people are using search on their desktops vs mobile including this great comparison by time of day from Google Inside Search (scroll the video to the below noted times):

Scroll to 5:16 to see desktop search graph by time of day

Scroll to 6:12 to see mobile search graph by time of day

He also offered up several more examples such as showing the bump in Valentine’s Day restaurant reservation searches on mobile vs desktop in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day – certainly something one might expect, but it was interesting to see hard supporting data.

I also found the way Danny dissected personalized, in particular with geo-location to be interesting in that he noted the flaw in trying to offer local search results to a searcher when they are looking for results that are out of area. If he was looking for “snow report” while he was in California still, would he want any California area resorts’ snow reports? Probably not, but how does a search engine gather enough signal to serve up the correct results – tough issue and one that they’re doing incredibly well at, at least not yet.

There was also an Inside the Actor’s Studio-style questioning in which Danny described his least favorite thing about search, which was “Inbound Marketing”, but only in the way that people throw the phrase around without delving into (or maybe really understanding) the various online marketing strategies which form it.

I’d highly recommend attended an SLC|SEM event in the future, particularly if they continue to put up speakers of the calibre and interest of Danny.

Update 3/5 – here’s the deck from the presentation:

Google Analytics

Google Search Changes

It seems like the good folks at Google like to change things up, even in their bread and butter search segment, which they did last week. If you missed it, it’s that some of us signed into our Google accounts are getting redirected to, note the “s”. Most are certainly in favor of more security, in particular with companies like Google which have a large volume of our preferences even in innocuous things such as search. But what Google has done is taken the step of stripping referer data from links referred to from pages that are search via SSL connection. This just clicked last Tuesday and I can see an appreciable uptick of what Google now call “not provided” keyword searches in a Google Analtyics account report:

Google Analytics

Sorry for all the redacting blurring.

If you want to look for yourself, it’s under traffic sources/search/overview and then select “keyword” in the viewing selector. And if you want a deep dive on all the implications on this switch from the best in the business on search, check out this post on Search Engine Land.

Flight news and more flight news

Is it me, or does it seem like there’s suddenly a flurry of interesting news in regards to airlines and flying. Now, for many ski resorts, this probably isn’t that big of a deal, but for destination resorts, I think it’s news to keep an eye on.

First off, is the fact that Google has finally unveiled their first integration of their purchase of ITA Software in their new Flight Search. I do like the speed and user interface (super clean, but with some real guts as you click down), but am pretty disappointed in the quality of results – as an example, it’s adamant that I can’t fly from SLC to RST (where my parents live) even though I get 1400 results when searching the same route on Kayak? In any case, the features are slick and are better presented than anything I could describe in this slick video:

The second, and nowhere near as ‘neat’ news, is that airlines are planning cut back on their flight capacity, more than usual for the upcoming winter months, with even Southwest Airlines holding off on expanding its fleet at all. The potential for higher fares is not as big as threat to destination ski resorts as the fact that it will be even harder for ski and snowboard vacations to find empty seats to even get to the resorts. Here’s hoping the airlines are judicious in their winter flight planning and keep plenty of capacity to all the winter destination gateway airports…

Fascinating Research and Analysis of Social Networks

I recently read this presentation by Paul Adams of Google on John Battelle’s Searchblog, and wanted to share it myself as I was quite taken by a number of the things that are put forth. First, I’m amazed at how quick of a read it is at 216 slides with notes! Second, as John notes, it has a number of digs at Facebook, but I also find that Paul does put forth a number of very positive design recommendations.

Google and ITA Software

Online Travel Changes Underway?

Google and ITA SoftwareJust a few quick thoughts, predicated by Google finally closing on their deal to purchase ITA Software, a flight information software company, for $700 million. If (or when) Apple comes out with a full featured iTravel and Microsoft continues along with the path that they’ve already set with Bing Travel, what will this mean for travel world, and more specifically, what will this mean to ski resorts? Might this give ski resorts motivation to innovate and expand in how they distribute and sell their products in the already competitive online marketplace? Or will ski resorts’ distribution options get swallowed up by the big boys (Google, Bing, Apple) as they focus their attentions on the process of travel booking?

Personally, I hope it’s a combination of the options. I think the companies  mentioned will come up with some very innovative ways to simplify the travel planning, booking and even experience itself but that there will be plenty of opportunity for ski resorts to create unique and powerful ways to market and sell their products as well. So, by having new ideas injected into the overall online travel market, everyone will benefit. What do you think?!

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