Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eyefortravel TDS: follow tweets at #tdsasia

Will be at Eyefortravel TDS Thursday April 29. Keynote presentation in the morning on Future Trends and Technology in Travel. Then tweeting at #tdsasia. Follow me via @timothychughes or search #tdsasia.

Business Traveller Tip: 12 survival tips for staying at a 5 star hotel

Surely a five star hotel does not need a survival guide. What's to survive? A five star hotel is the top of the luxury tree - deluxe room, swimming pool, 24/7 concierge, flat screen TV, no kids jumping up and down on the bed in the morning and all on the company expense account. But believe me to get the most out of your stay and business trip you need to head the advice on this Business Traveller Tip "12 tips for surviving a stay In a 5 star hotel" - in order of experiences

  1. Do not give your bags to bell boy: When I get to my room I usually want to unpack, shower and go to sleep in that order. If the bell boy has your bags the preferred order of unpack, shower, sleep changes to wander around room for ten mins waiting for bell boy to arrive, open door, wait uncomfortably for 2-5 mins for bell boy to bring in bag and then leave, stress about whether or not this is a country where tipping is required then get to the 1, 2, 3 of unpack, shower, sleep.
  2. Prep for check-in: At check-in, in one go hand over ID, Credit Card and loyalty card. Reduces questions, check in delay and problems with name pronunciation
  3. Be polite at check-in: You are tired and grumpy but they control everything from upgrades to speed of room service. Be nice. Say thank you
  4. Get two keys even if there is only one of you: Keep one key in your pocket and the other in your laptop bag away from your computer. Magnetic key cards do not react well to mobiles/smart phones/blackberries. It does not matter how deep the bath or sweet smelling the soap is, if you can't get into the room because your phone nuked your key and you have to head back to reception for a new one . BTW I hate when this happens and at reception assistants looks at me and says 'you didn't keep your key in your pocket did you? We recommend against that'. Makes me want to pull a Russel Crowe
  5. Confirm non-smoking every time: especially for late night check in. Too often I have a non-smoking res only to have the late night staff either not notice or not care. The last thing you want late at night is get to your room, turn around, go all the way back down stairs and effectively check in all over again
  6. Beware the elevator with a minds of its own: if you need a key to activate the elevator, them keep your foot in the door or finger on the open door button until the elevator has recognised the key input. Otherwise look forward to screaming at the button as the elevator timer clicks over faster that you can say 'there's no place like home' and sends you hurtling in the opposite direction to where you want to go
  7. Bolt the door: Whenever in your room bolt lock the door and turn on do not disturb to prevent any chance of housekeeping walking in when you don't want them to. I even had a hotel give my room to another punter who turned up at 1130 pm while I was asleep.
  8. Before going to sleep turn out the lights: Not as easy as it sounds. Five star hotel rooms emit a lot of light beyond the room lights. There is the standby light for the TV, the fire alarm will have a light, the control panel for the room may glow at night, the phone a message light, the clock radio a mid to high glow, the DVD player, the toilet light switch, an emergency light, the mini bar....too often I have turned out the main lights, gone to bed and sat in a near transcendental glow as all around points of red, green and blue lights emit from devices supposed to make my stay more enjoyable but instead bore into my brain. Check around the room before bed to determine what lights need the tried and true "cover with a sock" treatment
  9. Eat breakfast in the main area: if you have the option of breakfast in executive lounge or the main hotel restaurant take the main restaurant option not the lounge (unless you need wifi see tip 10). While the lounge offers a quieter (and more kudos filled) environment, at a five star hotel the full restaurant breakfast buffet should come with an exponentially larger range of choice than the lounge options
  10. Hunt for free wifi: will not work all the time but the lobby, exec lounge and area near the meeting rooms are the best places to hunt for free wifi
  11. Don't express check out: Unless the queue at check out is horrible I find express check out carries more challenges than gains. Charges can appear that you did not plan and receipts do not arrive at the time you are doing your expenses
  12. The save money Don'ts: Don't use the phone - if you have to get them to call you back. Don't use hotel laundry service - find local laundromat that delivers. Don't use mini-bar - stock up at the convenience store down stairs.
Now over to you. What other tips are there to help the tired business traveller get around to enjoying fluffy bath robes, pillow mints and all soaps and small bottles of lotion/shampoo that can be stuffed into a bag?

thanks to watchwithkristin for the photo via flickr

Friday, April 23, 2010

Life after Eyjafjallajoekul care of Tnooz

Must see picture of changes in flight patterns pot Eyjafjallajoekul eruption over at Tnooz

The Economist and Title inflation

Who knew that the roles of CEO, CFO and COO were old in nature by relatively new in terms of titles? Who knew that the first CEO title came from the Standard Oil Trust conglomerate? Well Peter Cappelli from Wharton did. Great 12 min podcast from the Economist called "What's in a name" (embedded below) on the history of titles and the resulting 'title inflation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Google to buy ITA Software (report). If true Google's meta-search march is on!

Back in March care of a reliable source I broke the rumour/story that Google was about to launch a travel meta-search product. Then Tnooz broke the story that the rumour was true and Google was seen inserting pricing and supplier bidding information to google map search results.

The biggest worry that Google has in getting into the travel meta-search space is how to catch up in technology. It is important to realise that each developer that Google diverts away from the core algorithm and ad platform carries a large opportunity cost. Even in a world of twenty percent time, Google is very conscious of the cost of putting developers on the expensive and complicate work involved in specific sector search rather than general search. The biggest question hanging over a travel meta-search play therefore was how would Google find the time and resources to build the product.

Looks like we might have the answer - and it has nothing to do with "building".

Story coming out of BusinessWeek that Google is in talks to buy ITA Software, one of the worlds biggest independent travel booking software makers who count Orbitz (disclosure), Bing, India's cleartrip, Expedia's Hotwire and Kayak as customers. Would certainly provide Google with all the tech they would need to launch a top flight meta-product. And on the entertainment front, would make the relationship between Microsoft and Google even more interesting.

hat tip to Paul Fisher who alerted me to the story via Twitter

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BOOT at eyefortravel TDS Singapore April 28-29

Assuming Eyjafjallajoekul calms down enough to let people get to and from Singapore then the BOOT will join scores of others next week at the Eyefortravel Travel Distribution Summit Asia at the Marina Mandarin in Singapore April 28-29.

I am part of the day 2 keynote (April 29) called "Future Trends and Technology in Travel – Planting the Seeds for Profit". Will be on stage with
The official blurb for the session is
The progression of technology and innovation in the travel industry continues at a quickening pace and Asian countries are closing the gap on their western counterparts. The dizzying pace has the power to undermine existing revenue models or create exciting and highly lucrative new opportunities for those in the know. Learn from the best to save you time and make you money.
More on the schedule here. Not too late to register here.

Part one of my pre-conference interview is here. Part two is here.

Let me know if you are going to be there on the 29th and would like to organise time to meet me

Monday, April 19, 2010

Help me help Bride to be get out of the UK

A few moments after posting an image of the Eyjafjallajoekul no fly zone I received an email from a friend in the UK. In short she is desparate for a way out of London. Due to fly out of London on Wednesday for her wedding in Sydney, Lara is at her wits end trying to find a way through the ash and into the clouds. How (dear readers) should she get from London to Sydney if the planes wont fly? What advice can you give a stranded traveller desperate to fly over 17,000km in time for her weddding on May 1?

So far we have the following bits of advice:
  • ferry/train/drive to Rome or Madrid;
  • a couchette train service from Paris or ferry stops in france/belgium to either Mardrid or Rome;
  • a ferry to Scandanavia and then Finair;
  • if there is any chance she can get out of Paris try Air Austral. They fly Paris to Sydney via Reunion Island.
  • there are people blogging and updating on, flyertalk and Check them out for advice - maybe even post a question; and
  • organise a 'call and hold party'. Get three friends to sit with you and call every airline and online agent (ie ebookers,). Hold times will be more than an hour for each one so have lots of dvds handy
Any other ideas?

Thanks to Misato for the photo of Tarantino's Bride via Flickr - map of Icelandic ash caused no fly zone

Volcanic Ash Advisory - current forecast from IPS Meteostar, Inc

Best map I have seen so far showing the spread of the ash and resulting no fly zone. Travellers are going to be stranded in the UK and northern Europe for a week or more.

hap tip to @hharteveldt

Seat Review - Air New Zealand Economoy Class (Trans Tasman)

I fly a lot (more than 270k miles a year according to Tripit) so doing seat reviews has been a valuable blog activity, reader distraction and (to be frank) traffic generator. But in this case my review of Air New Zealand Economy Class will be redundant by November this year. That is when we expect to see the new Air New Zealand “Skycouch” in operation. According to press reports the Optimal Usability and IDEO designed Skycouch will include a three seat merge functionality to create an economy class bet (well at least for those smaller than my 185cm and willing to sleep with a friend/stranger or two). That all said, the NZ Economy Class product is one of the best in the sky. Full details below but The BOOT rating for Air New Zealand Economy Class is a 4 stars out of 6 or "Good Seat". (Details and scoring system for airline seat reviews)

Getting on Board

Score 0.5

My Star Alliance status distorts the on boarding process compared to a regular economy passenger. So to does travelling with my family. The status gets me premium check-in, lounge and premium boarding. In other words a great experience. The family gets me annoyed kids and a slower than usual progress. In other words a Simpsons like you asked for it you get it experience. On both sides of the draw belt it looks like a typical boarding process. The Air NZ lounge in Sydney is the second best in Sydney (behind the killer QF first class lounge). The Queenstown lounge is too small and was full when we went to use it but that can be somewhat expected. Big negative is that no one at check in told us we had to go to a separate window to pay the NZD25 departure tax. Would have thought this should be in the standard script for check-in.

The Seat


This is the unfortunately redundant part of the review (with the Skycouch coming - full story on new Skycouch here). That all said, the current product is as good as any economy class seat I have flown. Pitch and width are fine. The tray table can be dropped in a half or full mode, which is great for making exits when there are drinks of the table. The remote control is in the back of the seat in front eliminating any accidental bumps, fast forwards or language changes that come from having it in the arm rest instead. Farewell well constructed Air NZ economy seat – we hardly knew thee.

The Service

Score 0.5

I like the NZ culture – Australia with even more of a smirk and one step even more relaxed. Like a cross between the Australian and Scottish cultures except a little more understandable. The Air NZ service is similarly fine for economy class. There are two tests for economy class services. Can you find the staff when you need them (do they respond to the bell) and Do they look for you every now and then to give random acts of service. Air NZ pass in both fronts.

The Food

Score 0.5

For a sub-three hour international flight in economy, the food was much better than expected. A warm and flaky meat, cheese and mushroom pie was enjoyable though the side serve of potato salad was neither enjoyable nor really a salad. More like chalk with pesto rather than a food product. Drinks were the usual with a twist – the twist being New Zealand wines. As a side note – we should all add Otago Pinot Noir to the Marlborough Sav blancs on the list of Southern Hemisphere viniculture treasures. Kids loved the increase which in stark contrast to the usual air served ice cream was not rock hard or milk shake wet – rather it was just right.

The Entertainment

Score 1.0

Great system. 26 films from 1950-2010. Mixture of classics, art and blockbusters. Street Car Named Desire to Full Metal Jacket to Avatar. My new test for whether or not in-flight video is good or bad is does it start prior to take off and last past landing. The good ones (of which Air NZ is now counted) can be turned on as soon as you sit down before take off and last until they switch off the fasten safety belts sign after landing. Only concern is whether not the long haul Air NZ entertainment selection is the same as short haul. If so then the number of films to watch will run out quickly – especially if headed to the US. The TV selection was not as good as CX, VS or SQ but there was more that enough to keep kids engaged. I liked the interface – very iPod like – but some of the older passengers next to me struggled to navigate around.

The BOOT factor

Score 1.0

Nobody watches the in-flight safety video any more. Airlines know this and have been trying to find way s to make them ore interesting. Air New Zealand have produced the best safety video I have ever seen. The staff are naked – covered only with body paint. It is a “cheeky” yet entirely safe for work video. First time in years I have sat and watched the video. First time ever the safety video has made me smile. Youtube link to it here and embedded version below.

Final Score

4.0 - Good Seat

Details and scoring system for airline seat reviews

Thanks to PhillipC for the 1972 Air NZ ticket photo via flickr

901 not out

100 more posts live on the BOOT. 4 years, 200,000 plus words, 150,000 visitors, 240,000 page views and still going. In my regular "not out series" recap I post a few reminders and highlights form the last 100 posts. It started with 101 not out and continued with 201, 301, 401, 501. 601, 701 and 801 not out. Here we go....

Buy buy buy. We may still be waiting for the mega deal but the tuck-ins are everywhere

Bust bust bust. The Global F'n Crisis had casualties
Talk talk talk. The BOOT went conference crazy
Track track track - kept my eye on big Asian online players that are active in the market but quiet in the results arena.
Theory theory theory
Puff Puff Puff - away from the industry I also posted
I haven't run out of things to say yet, so if you're still listening, then I will keep typing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Economist: Data, too much information and the Yottabyte

I have been saying for three years now that the biggest challenge we have to face in the online travel industry is "too much information". Now, thanks to the Economist, we can actually start to see how much is too much.

Once or twice a month the Economist publishes a special report on a country or subject. A few weeks back they published Data, data everywhere, a supplement devoted to the amount of information and data swirling around us. Let me jump straight to an extract from the punchline to the article
"According to one estimate, mankind created 150 exabytes (billion gigabytes) of data in 2005. This year, it will create 1,200 exabytes. Merely keeping up with this flood, and storing the bits that might be useful, is difficult enough. Analysing it, to spot patterns and extract useful information, is harder still."
Not all of this is online but according to Cisco, by 2013 667 exabytes of data will be flowing over the internet.

To put an exabyte into context, to store 1 exabyte of data would take 15.6million top of the range 64GB iPads. I struggle to think how we can capture, digest, store, manage, secure, use and more that amount of data.

The Economist gave three interesting snapshots of companies trying to deal with this amount of data:
  • Facebook: currently storing more than 40 billion photos;
  • Wal-Mart: processing 1 million transactions per hour; and
  • Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP: have spent more than $156billion on buying software firms specialising in data management and analytics.
The official definition of information is data processed in timely, relevant and accurate form. An IBM survey reported by the Economist found that half of the managers quizzed did not trust the information they had to base decisions on. We have more data than we know what to do with but don't trust it to help us come to the right outcome. The data flood's first consequence is to stifle our ability to turn data into information.

From all this it is clear that we need to learn some new words. Screw the giga, tera, peta and even exabyte. Time to introduce you to the Zettabyte (2 to the 70 bytes or a 1000 exabytes) and the Yottabyte (2 to the 80 bytes or 1000 Zettabyte). Though you will not need to worry about the Yotta just yet. Even the Economist admits that the Yotta is currently not just too much information but "too big to imagine".

The Data special report is a great read - check it out.

PS if you want to read more about what exciting things I think we should be doing with data, check out my series of posts on my concept of EveryYou.

thanks to J.Kleyn for the photo via flickr

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BOOT needs new luggage - any recommendations?

I need some new luggage. I need a coat carrier/garment bag that can go on board and a roll bag that can go on board. A roll bag big enough for a pair of shoes, general wear and a laptop. Any recommendations?

thanks to Andrew Stawarz for fantastic photo via flickr