Tim Hughes puts the boot into the highs and lows of the online travel business (with an Australasian/Asian bias) with some blogging about consuming and loving travel thrown in.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Eyefortravel TDS: follow tweets at #tdsasia
Business Traveller Tip: 12 survival tips for staying at a 5 star hotel
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
thanks to watchwithkristin for the photo via flickr
Friday, April 23, 2010
The Economist and Title inflation
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Google to buy ITA Software (report). If true Google's meta-search march is on!
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
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
- Sajith Sivanandan - Head of Travel, Retail and Automotive Google South East Asia. Sanjith's pre-conference interview is here.
- Mark Inkster, General Manager, Microsoft Online Services Asia. Morris' pre-conference interview is here
- Morris Sim, Co Founder, Circos Brand Karma
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
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 Tnooz.com, flyertalk and Travel-rants.com. 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
Thanks to Misato for the photo of Tarantino's Bride via Flickr
FlightExplorer.com - map of Icelandic ash caused no fly zone
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
Getting on Board
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
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.
I like the NZ culture –
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
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
The BOOT factor
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
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
Buy buy buy. We may still be waiting for the mega deal but the tuck-ins are everywhere
- Zuji/Travelocity bought Indian based Travelguru
- WRI went for $340mm
- TripAdvisor went further into China with Kuxun
Bust bust bust. The Global F'n Crisis had casualties
- Roamfree went into administration as the BOOT had to press delete on comment after comment
- Offline travel maybe dying but I had 3+3 recommendations on how it can save itself
- Talked EveryYou at WebInTravel - even though a back injury prevented by from actually going
- Joined the Kevin and Gene army of nodes and wrote 8 tnooz posts on subjects as varied as Augmented reality, Lonely Planet, Google, New Zealand and the Do over
- Overheard intermediaries and suppliers sharing war stories at NoVacancy
- EveryYou launched at TRAVELTech (see below)
- Another amazing week at PhoCusWright
- Spoke at Ad:Tech
- Tracking Google - broke the story first that Google meta-search was coming
- Tracking AsiaRooms and their TUI A&S stablemates
- Tracking Agoda, finally getting my hands on a Citi reporting estimating their turnover at $244mm for 2009 and early integration with Booking
- Tracking MakeMyTrip and claims they have made US$5mm off $500mm in gross sales
- Tracking Lonely Planet and their online plans
- Tracking Kayak and the private sale plans and follow up with Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson
- Laid out my predications for 2010
- I introduced the concept of EveryYou - arguing that the future of online travel is “The development of a specific and targeted recommendation of one based on the unique combination of desires, needs and interests of each individual at any moment in time”
- Posted my thoughts on the secrets of innovation
- Mused on my 3 rules for a UGC start-up
- Pondered what next for Google in online video marketing
Friday, April 16, 2010
Economist: Data, too much information and the Yottabyte
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.
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?
thanks to Andrew Stawarz for fantastic photo via flickr