February 2010 Archives

Lost luggage photo project 'is a little odd'

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I'll let online photo project Is This Your Luggage? speak for itself...

Is This Your Luggage homepage
I COLLECT LOST LUGGAGE, PHOTOGRAPH IT, AND THEN TRY TO FIND THE OWNERS.

IT'S A LITTLE ODD BUT NOT AS ODD AS STAMP COLLECTING, JUST A LITTLE HARDER TO FIND STORAGE SPACE.

Reminds me of long-running photo tracing site Is This You, only... with luggage. ITYL gets its cases from unclaimed luggage auctions, so it's odd but above board.

Click on a case and you'll get a composite photo of its contents, which is where I threw in the towel.

Via Metafilter

How self-explanatory should Travel Weekly headlines be?

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If you're a consumer, you could be forgiven for looking twice at 'Keith Richards to leave ABTA'.

You'd figure out pretty quickly that it doesn't refer to the Rolling Stones guitarist, but the scenario does raise an interesting question for web editors.

richards.jpgWhen we publish stories online, we know our headlines go out 'into the wild' - Google search results, RSS feeds on third-party websites, and so on.

And we know that the audience in those places may have less background knowledge than those who habitually pick up the paper or visit the homepage.

Indeed, they may have no background knowledge. They may have just searched Google News for 'Keith Richards' and found this:

Keith Richards search, Google News, February 23 2010So what do we do when there's potential ambiguity? Pack more information in to clarify matters, or keep it concise and trade-friendly?

For example:

  • ABTA axes professional development role in restructure, or
  • Keith Richards to leave ABTA
Generic headlines can be equally problematic. I ask reporters to avoid lines like 'Agents hit out over commission cuts', because out of the context of Travel Weekly that could be any kind of agent protesting against any kind of commission cut.

'Travel agents hit out at Operator X commission cuts' is more useful to everyone, consumers and travel industry Googlers alike - but again, it makes the headline on the article page a bit less punchy.

Just found, via Creative Review, Google and Russian Railways' virtual version of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Videos (the first embedded below) deliver a real-time window view of the route, while a map tracks progress and a drop-down menu lets you select an appropriate soundtrack.

There's also a skip-to location menu on the right, which is a mercy, since the whole thing is some 150 hours long.



Creative Review reckons it 'works brilliantly as tourism campaigns go', but does it do more for the media-marketing echo chamber than it does to bring in tourists?

Either way, it's a nice proof-of-concept.

Link: The world's 18 strangest airports

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A fun feature on unusual airports from Popular Mechanics, though there are a few obvious ones - the sunbather-scraping approach to Saint Maarten is a Youtube staple:



...but the tiny clifftop runway at Saba, Netherlands Antilles, was new to me - and I also had no idea that Saudi Arabia's King Fahd International is 11 square miles bigger than Bahrain.

I'm ashamed to say I've only landed at two of these - Hong Kong International and Madeira.

Via Neatorama - I don't generally read Popular Mechanics...

Video: Eurostar boss responds to Christmas breakdowns review

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The results of an independent report on Eurostar's troubled Christmas - six breakdowns thanks to snow and ice - were released yesterday, and with them a video response from  chief executive Richard Brown.

The key points...

  • 0.35 - Acknowledges faults, and apologises.
  • 0.55 - Indicates that he has talked to customers personally.
  • 1.17 - Introduces details of the failings identified in the review, breaking them down into 'passenger care', 'communications' and 'resilience'.
  • 2.20 - Assures us that the review's recommendations will be carried out.

Your thoughts?

The 'Facebook Generation' is a generalisation too far

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I removed a bit of a conjouring trick from our story on Hotel-fairy.com's Facebook poll, which suggests that only 14% of the site's users frequent high-street travel agents.

The poll itself is basically sound. Survey of Facebook users, carried out on Facebook, covering the standard 1,000-person sample size. Fine.

But there's sleight-of-hand in the press release: 1,000 Facebook users become 'the Facebook Generation'.

Facebook homepage'Generation' is a bit of a fuzzy word, inviting you to assume that what is true of users of a particular website is true of an entire age demographic.

It's also simply the wrong word, since stats indicate that Facebook is increasingly multi-generational, and there's no indication that the poll was targeted to a particular age group.

If anything, the assumption should be that only 14% of a fairly broad swath of the UK use high-street agents.

But that doesn't work either, since Facebook has (acc. to April 09 figures from O'Reilly Research) 18m users in a population of over 60m - and the very fact that poll respondents are Facebook users means they're the sort of people who are likely to book online.

So why publish the story at all? Well, because the point about Facebook users is useful on its own terms. If you're an agent and you're considering Facebook as a marketing tool, figures about its users' buying habits are going to help you make a decision.

Everybody loves a trend story. But sometimes extrapolation just muddies things up.

(NB: But it's fine if you're honest about it.)

Successful storytelling on Twitter? Read 'em and weep...

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I reproduce this series of travel tweets from Bus2Antarctica for two reasons.

One, they tell a good story.

Two, they work despite trashing a few Twitter orthodoxies - it's quick-fire first-person stuff without much engagement.

Storytelling, as you'll have guessed from the post title, is something I never thought Twitter was all that good at. But I followed this eagerly - and although it doesn't relate a very pleasant experience, the sense of camaraderie and relief in the final tweets makes it inspiring as a mini-travelogue.

All comes from an award-winning journalist (Andrew Evans) who is travelling to Antarctica by bus for National Geographic.

Bus2Antarctica tweet one

Bus2Antarctica tweet twoBus2Antarctica tweet threeBus2Antarctica tweet fourBus2Antarctica tweet fiveBus2Antarctica tweet six
In last week's TW homepage poll I asked What do you need more of? - and the results came out like this:

  • Staff 23%
  • Sales leads 33%
  • Hours in the day 44%
(Off 132 votes)

Poll - What do travel agents need more of?So... if we extrapolated from this, we might conclude that the trade needs to work on efficiency rather than marketing and customer acquisition.

Does that picture ring any bells? Or does travelweekly.co.uk just have a readership of fiercely independent grafters?

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