Twitter is blocked in China – what does it mean to Travel and Tourism Marketing?

June 3, 2009

twitter-blocked.jpgFirst some background:As reported by Reuters, and experienced by myself yesterday in sunny Beijing, the GFW (Great Fire Wall) strikes again. The Chinese Government censors blocked access to Twitter and other popular online services on Tuesday (June 2) afternoon at approximately 5pm, two days before the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. The photo-sharing site Flickr, email service Hotmail and other services were also unavailable this evening. was blocked last month and YouTube has been inaccessible from the mainland since March. Read more

Using UGC to Attract Visitors – who leads?

May 19, 2009

In the good ‘ole days – a mere 30 years or so ago – destination marketing was a relatively simple affair: figure out your major selling features, maybe add some positioning spin ( a “snazzy byline or
contemporary looking logo), print some brochures, run an ad campaign; ensure there was a “call to action; ” wait for the phone to ring; mail out the brochures and hope for the best. Read more

Google Universal Search and your travel industry business. Are you ready?

April 21, 2008

google hell evil

It was around a year ago when Google started going live with universal search .

The goals was to bring all the other specialised search results (from Video, Maps , Images , News , User Reviews, etc.) to the main web search portal.I think it is interesting to analyse some data and live examples, thinking about a strategy and then to give our travel readers some tips to be operational with this “new Google game”.

Read more

Yahoo! Answers and the travel space.

February 20, 2008

Yahoo Answers Travelocity

Yahoo! Answers is becoming a reference site on the Internet. Its popularity could provides an opportunity for online marketers to acquire targeted referral traffic.

Yahoo! Answers propose The Yahoo! Answers Knowledge Partners program (currently in Beta) and Travelocity is one of the partners for the travel space.

By identifying Travelocity as providing great answers, they are building credibility and positive brand image. Good move.

Yahoo! Answers might be a viable way to increase your exposure and

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as an expert in your field.

When used correctly, Yahoo! Answers can be a source of direct referral traffic, even for small Cies who have time to handle this new channel and are not afraid sometimes by some “stupid” or “strange”questions!

My tip: Follow the guidelines, and as with any other social media site, focus first on what you can give to the community rather than what you can get from it.

What do you think about this marketing channel?

More information on Yahoo Search Blog

Share your Travel Marketing Secrets

February 3, 2008



Tourism Marketing Blog contributor Claude had the brilliant idea to reach out and ask experts to share their Travel Marketing Secrets and Tips – similar to the initative from Small Business Trends…but focused on travel, tourism, and hospitality marketing.The results will be shared here on the Tourism Internet Marketing Blog, and

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will also be presented at the Phocuswright Bloggers Summit at ITB, in collaboration with the “Tips from the T-List“. The top Travel Marketing Sectrets will also be publised in future version of the Tips from the T-List book.

Read more

Dot Travel – The rise and fall of a brilliant concept

January 17, 2008

dottravel6.jpgI wrote about “dot travel” on my blog in the past, and just for the record, personally I still believe in the original dot travel concept, as well as the purity of the dot travel domain extension for travel and tourism related web addresses. However, I was saddened when I read the press release below, and I realized that the dot travel concept may have been killed by greed and short-term vision.


.travel to release nearly 300,000 destination names.
.travel domain registrar, EnCirca issued a .travel advisory regarding the release of nearly 300,000 reserved destination names. Effective with the new relaxed eligibility policy, the .travel registry is planning to release thousands of reserved place names, such as cities, iconic cultural sites and world heritage landmarks. These .travel domain names are ideal for search engine marketing since keywords in domain names are given extra weight in search engine rankings. Destination management organizations and tourism boards had until December 21, 2007 to secure their destination names from EnCirca before they are released for public registration.
(For Immediate Release – Travel News Distribution, December 2007)

Read more

New Travel Search Engine goes into Private Beta

December 19, 2007


A little while ago, my friend Yen Lee, Kango’s President and former General Manager of Yahoo Travel, gave me the opportunity to be one of the first bloggers to get a sneak preview and play around with a few months ago. I was very impressed, and decided to interview Yen to get an insight view and share it on the Tourism Internet Marketing Blog. Now, Yen informed me that he is pleased to finally open up Kango for the private beta release. Feel free to have a look at the interview, and apply to be one of the few to be a previate-beta tester. Yen noted that it helps to mention that you are a reader of the Tourism Internet Marketing Blog…

So what is, and why should you care – with all the new online travel sites out there…well, in short: Kango aims to save travelers time, so they have more time to travel. And isn’t it all about creating value to travellers? But let’s go a little bit more indepth…

Kango has received some serious funding from a well-established investor and is creating a new travel solution that is doing a couple things that are very new and interesting.

The first thing is something that will save you a lot of time. The problem I have run across in booking hotels is that one travel site will say a hotel is 3 stars, another 4 stars and if I check a third source the hotel is rated 1 star. I now, discouraged more on to looking at another hotel, not wanting to pay a 3 star price for a hotel that could end up having a 1 star experience.

Kango is doing all that work of hunting down the truth on a hotel and presenting the information on a single page

For example if I were going for a vacation in San Francisco I might decide to stay at the Omni Hotel San Francisco because

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there seems to be a broad consensus from 6 different travel sites with 250+ reviews and ratings of four-out-of-five-or-better; I may be less inclined to choose the Hotel Bijou which appears to be in a similar price range because the ratings were less consistent.

The other thing that Kango is doing is aggregating what to do when you are there, beyond just booking the hotel, which most of the major travel sites don’t really talk about, presumably because it’s to hard to make money from listings of beaches 😉 just looking at the first page of Kango ideas about things to do in San Francisco and I see a few I probably would never thought to do that look fun; sure the popular Alcatraz is listed, but what if I wanted to take the kids somewhere? The Exploratorium looks like a good bet, or perhaps the Junipero Serra Playground.

Finally, Kango should help you find better choices that lead to better trips.

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With Kango, if you are looking for a romantic getaway in San Francisco, you will get different hotel and activity recommendations than if you are looking for a family vacation in San Francisco.

After playing around with the site, which Kango is adamant, is a pre-beta at this point, I already see a lot of usefulness, which gets me a bit excited, for what else they might be working on that could save me time, make it easier to travel, and lead to

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In my opinion…a site worth watching. Good luck Yen, and keep it us posted. You can also get some more inside inforamtion right from the Kango

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team on their own blog.

Singapore Airlines leveraged eBay for Inauguaral Flight of new A380

October 23, 2007

Only 2 days left to the inaugural flight of the new super-plane Airbus 380 from Singapore to Sydney by Singapore Airlines. The new double decker Airbus A380 is due to make aviation history with
it’s first commercial flight on October 25. The flight will
be between a return flight between Singapore to Sydney.

Creating buzz, giving back, being the first, and leveraging the Internet were the recipes for Innovation for Singapore Airlines. So many companies talk about innovation, but this has been a flawless execution with taking a bit

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Due to the demand from aviation enthusiasts to be first to fly on the revolutionary plane Singapore Airplines
have come up with a novel way

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to distribute the tickets fairly –
auction them on eBay to be paid with PayPal! All the proceeds from the
sale of tickets on the first flight will be donated to charity. eBay and PayPal will subsidise the fees and ExxonMobil Aviation are
donating the fuel for the flight to ensure the charities

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get the
maximum benefit possible. The money will be split equally between, Singapore’s Community Chest, The Children’s Hospital (Randwick and Westmead), and Médecins Sans Frontières.

The auction on eBay ran for two weeks from August 27th to September 10th, attracted over 26 million hits from over 160 countries, and generated over US$ 1.9 million for charity.
auction was one of the largest charity auctions, and among the most
complex, ever held on eBay, and the largest it has operated across the
Asia-Pacific. Some 366 auction items have been listed over the last 2
weeks, including seats in all three classes, in singles, pairs and
The eBay pages hosting details of the Singapore Airlines
A380 First Flight Charity Auction recorded over 26 million hits during
the auction, with Australia, Germany, the US then Canada making up the
most visitors to the sites. Data suggests internet users from over 160
countries visited the auction pages at some point during the auction.
Throughout the two weeks of the auction – conducted on eBay, the
world’s largest online marketplace – around 2,000 bidders pre-qualified
by paying a security deposit, while several thousand others registered,
so far buying 638 seats on both legs of the flight. A record was

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achieved for the sale of the first Singapore Airlines
Suites package on the Singapore-Sydney flight, which sold for
US$100,380 (S$153,000). The bargain of the auction was a single
Economy seat from Sydney to Singapore, which sold for US$560 (S$853). The Suite Packages include a 1:100 (2 by 2 meter) model of the
A380, a flights
paid trip to Singapore Airlines headquarters in Toulouse, France to
witness the delivery of the first Airbus A380, VIP transport to and
from your flight on the A380 including first class tickets from
anywhere in the world to Singapore and limousine

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transfers between
Singaporean purchased three Singapore Airlines Suites, two Business
Class seats and an Economy Class seat on the Singapore-Sydney sector,
paying US$56,000 (S$85,280) for the six seats.
made up the largest nationality of successful bidders (15%), followed
by Singaporeans (11%), Britons (6%), Americans (4%) and Germans (3%).
The other 60% come from all over the world. Successful
bidders ranged in age, from a San Francisco man who will turn 22 on the
day of the flight, to a 76 year old from Vancouver, Canada.

Here I am with my friend Michael Stellwag, eCommerce Director for Singapore Airlines (North America) at the iMedia Summit (toggether with Andrew Brooks from Value Click) discussing this online auction.

Have a look at this video where Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng takes the CEOs of Airbus and Rolls Royce on a tour of its first Airbus A380.

Preview of New Travel Search Engine

October 15, 2007

And new start-ups in the travel category are continuing to roll-out, which is great, and keeps it interesting. I was especially intrigued when my friend Yen Lee (originally from Vancouver – my current hometown), former head of Yahoo! Travel and former EVP at Worldres introduced me to his new venture a few months ago…and now he is ready for beta launch very soon. So we got on the phone, and I asked Yen a few questions about his new venture, Kango.

Tourism Internet Marketing Blog (TIM): Yen, what is Kango and what is the value proposition to the consumer?

We started Kango to help you make better decisions about your personal travel. Kango complements today’s travel booking sites (e.g. Expedia,, by enabling you to find travel choices based on your desired experience and lifestyle (e.g. where to go for a warm weather beach vacation or what to do on a family trip to Calgary), then move directly to your preferred travel booking site.

A personalized travel search engine, Kango collects travel options and traveler opinions from all over the web and returns the most relevant recommendations on where to go, what to do and where to stay based on your preferences. For example, we return one set of hotel and activity recommendations when you are traveling to Vancouver on a romantic getaway and a different set when you are going to Vancouver with the family. Like web search engines (e.g. Google), Kango’s recommendations to you are not influenced by advertising.

Read more

Don’t be a Tourist, Connect with the Locals…

September 20, 2007

Jeff Goldsmith, a friend of mine from San Francisco yesterday launched his new company VIAMIGO. Jeff talked to me about his new ideas many months back, and what really excited me about it is the concept of travellers connecting with locals. Leveraging technology to create an amzing travel experience where residents invite travellers and show their hospitality. We all know that the best travel experiences are the ones when we are emerged in the destination, and when we get away from the the traditional tourist spots to getting to explore the hidden secrets beyond the beaten path. Well, in the age of convergence, VIAmigo is attempting to exactly do that. The site helps global travelers find authentic, local experiences and insider adventures – by connecting them with personal tour guides from everywhere by going beyond the guidebook. Pre-launch, VIAmigo signed up 1500 tour guides from every corner of the planet – with a great many more expected soon. Professional tourist guides to diving instructors to archeologist to connoisseurs of every sort, you name the adventure. Private Guides is

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another site that offers private tour guides all over the world, but not necessarily on a budget.

According to Jeff, “Usually, unless you know someone who lives in the city or find a helpful native in a tiny village, you would be unlikely to find some of the

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fantastic local haunts and beautiful natural spots which are off the tourist trail. The thinking behind VIAmigo is that we allow you to easily connect with professional guides and local cognoscenti. Everyone wants to go beyond the guidebook and package tour on their next trip, and now you can, whether you’re a business traveler with an extra day or an adventurer with a month to explore,”

Why got me excited about VIAmigo when Jeff first told me about his idea? Well, I think Destination Marketing Organizations need to go beyond brochureware and find a way to leverage technology to allow travellers to connect with locals. That is relationship management. I would love to have such a “one-to-one destination marketing platform” – we are working on it with our community platform, which will go well beyond our current Blogging platform on (which is still one one of the few national and regional tourism organizations that allows for user-generated content).

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