Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tiki-Toki - Web-Based Timeline Construction Tool

Beautiful web-based timeline software

This looks like a really nice tool for students to build historical time lines. The graphics are, as they say, beautiful. A basic account is free. I do not know what the paid acct costs.

Monday, September 01, 2008

18 Months Later - How Are They Doing?

It has been awhile since I lasted posted a review -- been a busy summer and start to the new academic year. Even when I am not actively blogging, I still file away emails that I receive that are Travel 2.0 related to, hopefully, review when I have more time. Most of these are from PR people wanting to promote their website and products.

So what I decided to do today was to look back at the oldest ones that I had files away and see which of them is still of interest today. These three were all promoted to me in April 2007, about 18 months ago.

71 Miles - is an early staycation website, founded before the concept of staycation became popularized. Its beta version was focused on Northern California, and its plans in April 2007 were to go national in "the coming months." That obviously did not happen, as it is still Northern California based, and they do not seem to talk about going national any longer. And they seem to be looking for advertisers on their homepage.

The State of Oregon's website, which is somewhat of a traditional state travel site, except that you need to join the site to see most of the information. If you register you get access to:
  • Tips for more than 300 destinations in Oregon and over 90,000 others worldwide
  • Connect with thousands of fellow travelers from all continents
  • Rate and review hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more
  • Search the database for members with similar interests, find top rated places, the most respected users or the most valuable tips
  • Customize your own passport page and track all your travel
Destinations (sort of global - only a handful of sites listed), Tips and Member profiles are available without registering -- they apparently have about 3,000 registered members -- not hugely successful for a state tourism site, I would guess. I think most of these options are available elsewhere, and since I am not planning a trip to Oregon in the foreseeable future, I did not register. But for anyone who goes to Oregon a lot, say if you had a second home there, this might be worthwhile. The site was created by, which is based in Portland, Oregon, and does not seem to have any other similar products. [UPDATE 2Sept08: There is also a site, which was mentioned in a comment, below.]

In my opinion, 3000 registered members is not necessarily a huge success. With a little effort they could possibly get close to that number on Facebook. I think the issue of registering is a barrier. Only those people who are most enthusiastic to share and discuss Oregon will likely register. For potential visitors, the Tips section is probably the most useful part of the site and it is good that they make this available without needing to register. So there are probably many times as many users of the site than just those who register., the state's official travel site, has a Travel Journal tool where registered users can take notes of places they want to see, but they do not have the community tools that GoSeeOregon has. In addition, they only refer people via a very small link at the bottom of their site, to the GoSeeOregon website, so they are not really making full use of, with which they are apparently still affiliated. launched in April 2007 and was described in the email I received back then as being "devoted to baby boomers traveling in the United States with families. The idea was to take project management out of trip planning and help people collaborate and enjoy travel preparation as much as possible." Its primary feature, in my opinion, is the ability to post your trip itinerary and, optionally, share it with others. You can also comment on the places you went and share photos -- sort of like a personal travel blog. There is no discussion forum, and you cannot comment directly on postings, though you can suggest updates to a post. So it is a lot less open than or

It is hard to tell how many users currently has. My impression is that is is OK, but not huge. There seem to be user trips to most of the more popular corners of the world. The site, however, is full of other information from a variety of different sources -- including commercial tour operators. This form of advertising is relatively less obtrusive than what one finds on sites such as Though it can be sneaky in that way.

In Summary

Of the 18 month old sites reviewed here, appears to be the most successful. That could be because it is the broadest in its geographic market, covering the globe, instead of only one state or urban region. It could also be because it is the most rich in the user generated tools that it provides -- namely, allowing users to create itineraries that can be private or shared. It does not have a discussion forum, which is a shortcoming, I think. However, the information provided -- a mix of user-generated content and commercial content -- is presented in an easy to access and use manner. Perhaps this is better suited to baby-boomers who just want information and are less interested in active site participation.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Travel Planning Tools

OK, so this is not all of the sites covered are are new, though a couple of them are. But I think it is worth visiting and commenting on the more established sites, instead of just covering the newest travel sites here. has an article on titled "Travel Websites Get Personal" by Wendy Tanaka, which is accompanied by a slide show of Seven Top Sites for Planning Your Vacation. If you hate those slides shows as much as I do, here is a quick list of the seven sites that they list, along with my own comments on each:
  1. - airline, hotel and vacation booking site, often finds the best deals in comparative studies - This is the one that I use the most on this list, though I normally enter it via the multi-site search engines of or

  2. - massive database of user-generated review, mostly of hotels - I use TripAdvisor occasionally to get information on hotels in places that I am very unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, I find the often conflicting reviews of the same place very confusing!

  3. - user reviews of destinations, hotels, restaurants, etc., more like blog entries, now part of I used IgoUgo recently to plan daily activities in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was too cheap to buy a guidebook for the short trip that I took there and looked at several sites like IgoUgo for tips on what to do and see, which I then printed out and took with me.

  4. - automatically generates guides for trip itineraries that you enter - I tried this once but found the results too general and diverse and not well suited to my interests. If you are interested in this approach, you might want to try, which is a new site that also creates a trip itinerary around your destination and interests. It currently only covers selected sites outside the US, but I think that will change over time.

    And there is also's Trip Finder (image above), which does the same thing and is a 2008 Webby Award nominee for Travel, along with several other sites listed here. (Note that the the preference scales on Trip Finder are also offered on, which I reviewed in June 2007.)

  5. - and more user reviews, plus a Q&A section, and links to real-life Travel Agents - I have not used this site and looking at it I am not sure that I, personally, would find its features that useful. Others might be different, though.

  6. - airlines and hotels, attempts to forecast future fares for mostly US cities (good luck with that these days of bankrupt airlines and sky-high oil prices!) - They are slowly expanding their forecasting coverages, but it basically does not work for international travel. Even for domestic US, I find the results of limited use as it cannot guarantee a certain future price (though I think there is a way to do that for a price).

  7. - airline fares, but with a Trip Quality Score based on lost luggage, on-time departures, legroom, and flight duration - based on what you indicate as important (US only) - This beta site is the newest on the list and I have not used it, though the concept is interesting. Here is a screenshot of its results - the big number is the quality score, the bars on the left are where you adjust your preferences:

When I plan my trips (which I have been doing a lot of lately), I start from a site that I created called "My Favorite Travel Websites". Here is a screenshot of that site (the photo of me and my daughter in Hawaii is from over 25 years ago):

On this Hubpage I post anything that I think I might use in planning my own personal and professional travels. Do I use everything that is there -- nope, but I might, some day. And even with this fairly comprehensive list, I often seem to find myself using new and different websites every time I plan a new trip. Go figure...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tourist Attractions Galore (US only) at

As a geographer, I have a bias toward mapping applications that relate to Web 2.0 and Travel 2.0. So even though I get a lot of links to Travel 2.0 websites in my inbox, and even though I really should be reading student term papers right now, I did mention this new site (still in beta), in part because of its simplicity and mostly because of it potential usefulness for travelers in the US. is a map of tourist attractions in the US. (Sorry, rest of the world.) Attractions include: "history, arts, recreation, nature, science, parks, sports, theater, concerts, nightlife & activities." It is basically a mash-up of Google Maps and Yahoo! Local, with some added information and functionality. At each zoom level HappyMappy will show up to 100 of the most popular attractions. It is unclear just how popularity is determined.

Checking the attractions around Flagstaff, Arizona, I found the results to be quite comprehensive, and there were a couple of items listed that I was personally not aware of. It was not perfect, however, as it included a couple of motels (not really tourist attractions) and places on the Northern Arizona University campus that I thought were a bit questionable. For example, the Du Bois Center is tagged with: Concert Entertainment Live Entertainment Live Music Music Nightlife Venue. However, it is mostly a food outlet for students and a conference center with meeting rooms and an auditorium that may, on a very infrequent occasion, have some evening event that is open to the public. In addition, as student recreation center is listed that is not open to the public.

In addition, downtown Flagstaff, especially on Route 66 (US Highway 89/180), has a lot of tourist arts/gifts/souvenir shops, but only a couple are listed. And I wonder how well they will be able to keep this information current given the relatively high business turnover in this sector. Finally, urban districts and scenic landscapes are attractions, as well. But these do not show up on the HappyMappy maps. While it might be possible to identify downtown Flagstaff as a tourism hot spot, based on the large number of pin points there, the historic hotels along Route 66 as not so well identifiable.

Also, I was not able to save my points of interest and maps either in Firefox 3 (beta) or on IE 7 after I registered on the site. I would think this kind of problem would be mostly resolved in a beta release, but I guess not this time.

HappyMappy reminds me of - which is a pin map showing links to tourist attractions around the world, but which also emphasizes videos and photos more, and text descriptions of the attractions less than does HappyMappy. VeniVidiWiki also allows users to add additional sites to their database, though there is no social networking related to that. And there is also which links the attractions to an itinerary route -- though that makes it more complicated, as well. I covered before here and before here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Personal Travel Search - Simple Is Best

The website has a very simple, Google-based travel search site that works very nicely!

This is the search interface, on which I typed "Singapore":

And here are the results for my Singapore search. Each link basically takes you to a Google page with links to the topic, which, of course, is also a very clean interface, of course. With all the often complicated Web 2.0 stuff out there, simple is like a breath of fresh air.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

From Tourist to Traveler - Educating visitors about Angkor Wat

A friend of mine, Tim Winter, sent me a link to his new website about travel, tourism and heritage in Cambodia, with an emphasis on Angkor Wat <>. The website is essentially intended to support and expand upon his recent book on the same topic, which can be found on the website. The site also includes links to recent news stories related to tourism and heritage issues in Cambodia.

While a lot of Web 2.0 tends to focus on practical tools for organizing trips and finding the best deals from insiders. At best, they provide users with information on must see attractions.

However, tourists are part of the tourism economy -- which is generally considered the largest part of the global service economy, and has huge impacts on host destinations. Few tourists fully understand their role in this tourism economy, and how they are shaping and changing the destinations that they visit.

Website like this one on Cambodia help to bridge this gap between being a leisure tourist and an aware traveler. Good job, Tim!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One Month of Travel 2.0 Websites

On average, I receive about two emails a week announcing new Travel 2.0 websites. I know that they mostly come from PR people, but some seem more genuine than others, which can border on spam. I find most of them of some interest, but only now and then am I smitten enough to be drawn away from my other activities to write a review.

However, I also know that just because I may not be overly excited about a new website, does not mean that other people might not be. So in deference to a presenting a balanced picture of Travel 2.0, this blog posting is summary of the websites that have been recommended to me in in the past month (not listed in any special order), along with my impressions.

------ - A Travel Contest to Build User Content

From surveys that I have heard about, after the US, the top international destination that people in China want to visit in France. is a website for Chinese traveling to Paris, and elsewhere in Europe. However, they are also running a contest in English on the free social website buider, It is one of the smaller contests that I have seen. You can win a US$99 gift certificate to if you submit a suggestion on how to visit Paris on $99 or less a day (1 meal, 1 hotel, 1 activity). Sounds like an inexpensive promotional effort that could gain them some useful information. I found their use of particularly of interest, since I am a active participant on that site (see here, for example). - Ruyi Travel Blog (blog in Chinese) - English - Contest Promo - Ruyi-ParisHotels (in Chinese)


Destination 2.0

This is not a new website, but it has apparently undergone some rennovations to make it more of a “daily green travel newspaper” for virtually every country on Earth. This site is for people who want to know what contemporary issues that are really going on in a country, beyond the general guidebook information. In addition to basic visitor information, it provides NGO and UN information and "the latest green travel news." A lot of destination information and definitely more for the serious traveler than the purely recreational one.

------ -Travel Web Directory

This site claims to only include sites that have been selected by real humans as being the best in each of their many categories. It kind of reminds me of the old Yahoo directories (do they still exist somewhere?), and as such feels more like Web 1.0 -- find a category and see the websites or online article. It is apparently still very new and many of the categories (such as travel podcasts) are empty. In addition, the email I received stated: "You can add your travel related site or your travel articles for free to our directory: Don't miss this awesome opportunity to gain visibility and pagerank at once!" It is easy to submit a website link. They only require that it be a "quality" site and that the site link back to the Travel Web Directory. There was no definition of "quality," however. Definitely a beta site with a lot more work to do.

------ - Mobile phone phrase books

For 4 Euros you can download a 17 language phrasebook from the Spain-based The website is entirely in Spanish, since English is one of the 17 languages (and the PR announcement was in English), it should work for us Anglophones. There are 200 traveler-related phrases that are both shown in text and vocalized on the phone. Since I travel mostly in Asia, Manadarin Chinese and Japanese are included, though Bahasa-Malay/Indonesia is not. In addition, my HTC phone is not on the list of phones that the phrasebook will work on. And finally, have you actually ever bought one those little pocket phrase books? I have, over the years, but I have never actually pulled one out and used it.

------ - Digg-like voting system for Italian tourism

This website focuses on alternative accommodations, such as B&B and farm stays, plus events, and touring routes. Places and establishments are rated and reviewed, all in Italian, from what I saw. And there is a Google map showing the distribution, and you can see who has voted for what sites. If you know a little Italian, this could be a great resources for seeing the "real Italy."

------ - Discussion forum for luxury travel

The website describes itself as "Haute Travel Talk" and "Where sophisticted travelers go to discuss first class experiences." Categoried includ hotels, dining, spas, shopping, and more. Since I cannot afford traveling first class, this is not a site that I find much interest in. (I am, however, a charter subscriber to Budget Travel magazine -- I have 10 years of back issues.)

------ - Multimedia destination information

To me, Chokit is sort of a YouTube portal for travel destinations. They link to audio (podcasts?), videos, photos, maps and journals, and users can upload their own material and aggregate them for specific destinations, which can then be presented on a personal or business website. I am not sure how the latter works. When I browse the site I see about 1300 resources listed -- most of which seem to be videos of the US and Europe. There was only one for Southeast Asia. Some a linked from Youtube and similar sites, while others were apparently uploaded by amateur users. There are quite a few other travel video sites out there, and I guess one difference with Chokti is the ability to add other multimedia files -- though I did not see any browsing around Europe, Asia and North America. I also found the interface somewhat cumbersome.


Nile Cruise Podcast

This is supposed to be a weekly podcast. They have three episodes up, and the last one was posted on Oct 22. It is a good podcast, but hmmm, they seem to be a few weeks behind -- unless they have already podfaded. (Three podcasts is a very common podfading break point.)
------ - Connecting travelers with travel agents

Despite of (or maybe because of) the growth in online travel, Americans are apparently returning to travel agents to some degree, in part because doing it all themselves is perceived to take too much time. On the Tripology website, travelers can submit a trip request (by destination or type of trip) and get responses from one to three travel agents from the Tripology network of over 6000 travel agents. To connect you with the best agent, the site asks a lot of information about your planned trip. While I can see that a travel agent would like much of that information to plan a trip, I can also see how the Tripology website owners could use this information for product development and marketing. I personally am uncomfortable providing a lot of information like this online. I also rarely use travel agents, though their list of travel agent myths gives some good reasons to consider one. Even though they have a blog, there is nothing else that is "Web 2.0" from the users perspective.


This review took a lot longer to research and write up than I expected. There are some interesting efforts taking place. While quite a few of them fall short of ideal (from my perspective), I still think theat they all provide insight into the exploding landscape of Travel 2.0.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Coming Boom in Online Travel in China

The China Web2.0 Review blog recently covered several new Chinese travel sites, comparing them to some of the more popular US travel sites.

Comparing Some New Chinese Travel Websites

The author of that blog post concludes that "Overall, None of these websites seems really impressive. They are still far behind Ctrip on user base. I think adding more innovative ideas like personalized travel plan similar to what Yahoo Travel and TripHub did may help them gaining ground in the online traveling market."

I have an article in this month's (Oct 2007) issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review. Unfortunately, my article (titled "China's Growing Wanderlust"), cannot be seen without a paid subscription. One of the topics that I cover in that article is the state of online travel in China. A few points that I make are:
  • Although online travel bookings in China grew 72 percent in 2006 to over 2.75 million bookings, valued at 1.54 billion yuan (US$204 million), it pales in comparison to the US, where the online travel market generated revenues of US$83 billion in 2006.
  • Chinese consumers have been wary of both online transactions and the use of credit cards (both on- and off-line).
  • Chinese travel agents discourage online bookings because they pay higher credit card fees online (1.0%) compared to in person (0.1%). So the approach to online travel in China is to direct the public to call centers for information and bookings, and to travel agency offices for cash transaction.
  • Successful online travel agencies in China negotiate special travel packages at favorable prices that are attractive to the middle and upper classes, who are also more willing to use credit cards and pay a little more for the convenience of online travel bookings.
  • The biggest online travel agency, by far, in China is, which accounted for 54.2% of online sales in 2006, followed by with 17.8 percent of the market. owns 52 percent of, but also has its own China website this year.
Although struggling now, many expect China's online travel market to explode in the coming years as more people enter the middle class and the use of plastic (credit cards) becomes more widespread. -- With trends like that, no wonder that the Shanghai stock market is booming these days!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cool New Ideas: Simpatigo and TravNotes

Keeping up with the all the new Travel 2.0 websites emerging every week would be close to a full-time job. I already have a full-time job that consumes a most of my time, so all I can do is squeeze out a review once or twice a month. The websites that I pick to review are those that I think are especially creative (giving me inspiration to write) -- and happen to arrive in my inbox or elsewhere when my real job gives me time to check them out.

Two sites that I learned of just today are and Both are in early beta, and their content and subscriber bases are under development. But I thought they provided creative new twists on current trends in Travel 2.0. is another attraction mapping site designed to help you plan your trips. This is kind of like and maybe, both of which I reviewed earlier. The difference is that Simpatigo generates a Trip Itinerary that includes driving directions (common on most mapping sites) AND short descriptions of attractions that you will pass en route. The itinerary can then be printed out to take with you.

This is a cool idea, though its realization is still a bit rough (remember it is still beta). I entered an itinerary for a road trip I am planning for next year from Cincinnati to Toronto. My itinerary only included two attractions, in addition to the driving directions, even though there were many more within fairly short distance from the actual road I was driving on. I did not see a way to capture those additional attractions into the driving itinerary.

I would guess that this will be worked out at some point. Simpatigo currently has some 1600 attractions, mostly in the more populated regions of the US. Some attractions are being captured from major travel publications, while users can also add their own points of interest to share with others. It has a ways to go before its database is truly useful, but is a good idea that has potential. is a microblog for travel planning and traveling. I have not seen anything that quite compares, though perhaps the popular ("Where Are You Now") offers something like this. For the uninitiated, microblogging was made popular recently by, which only allows 140 characters to each blog post. (Click here for my Twitter microblog.) is another microblog with some added features like photo sharing.

TravNotes is a microblog with features specifically for using before and during your travels, and perhaps to talk about travel in general. Each microblog can be categorized as for an "upcoming" trip, for current "traveling", as a public "question" about a place or trip, or a "general" other. Groups can be created from friends and posts can be limited or made viewable by everyone.

Again, TravNotes is new and its membership base seems to be modest right now. But if you like microblogging and traveling, then you may like TravNotes a lot.

Friday, September 07, 2007

User-Generated Airports and Airport Wifi

I saw this on new service from on

It is basically a user generated airport news services where users can instantly post the good and bad things they are experiencing at US airports -- like parking problems, unusual TSA delays, flight delays, etc. -- as seen in the video, above. This is in addition to more static information about airport and flight conditions.

Do people really use things like this? I suppose I might if I spent a lot of my life in really large airports that have enough geeks using them to generate some useful up-to-date information, and if wanted to shave off some potentially wasted minutes. However, I do not fly through SFO or LAX that often. For my main hub aiport, PHX, the latest postings tell me that 4 hours ago there were long lines at the US Air and Southwest checking counters -- so what else is new? The lines are almost always long at those two airlines. In my opinion, air travel these days is so unpredictable, the best insurance is to arrive early and be prepared to wait. I may be wrong, but I think that user-generated information can have its limits.

There was a user generated gem in the comments on the TechCrunch posting. It was for -- a site where users submit reviews and tips on wireless connectivity at airpoirts around the world. I found it one of the better looking and most useful sites of this kind that I have seen. has a good listing of paid airports wifi services, but no user reviews like, which is a real plus!

And remember to watch out who/what you are connecting to at an airport, as there have been reports of fake wifi services out to capture your personal information. also has a good guide to using airport wifi, along with a summary of availability at US airports.

PS: I found two other site that have reviews of airports around the world: and Both have more of a discussion forum approach and have a limited number of airports and/or reviews. And, of course, neither is "live" like

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What is Travel 3.0 ?

From the many podcasts that I listen to, I have basically heard of two definitions for Web 3.0:
  1. Web-Everywhere Technology - Always connected portable technology
  2. Total Immersion Web - Virtual worlds and MMOGs
Web 1.0 was the static, expert knowledge web. Web 2.0 is the interactive, user knowledge web. So these definitions of Web 3.0 as an always connected technology and total environment knowledge web make sense to me.

And either way, the significance for travel and tourism is enormous. An everywhere web is a traveling web. It means being connected when you travel locally to work, to the grocery store, to the gym, as well as on business trips and family holidays. The Web 2.0 tools that I review on this website are among the leaders into this everywhere web space, which I predict will move toward greater convergence in the coming decades.

I have personally not bought into the the Second Life virtual world phenomenon, which I think is far from ready for prime time. In the long run, however, I think that online virtual worlds will become an important way of communicating with other people, initially, and with distant environments, ultimately. The newly emerging Web 2.0 sites that have video tours of hotels and destination are important baby steps in this directions -- even more so than the experimental hotel building in Second Life because they are more accessible for the masses.

Travel 3.0 is clearly not here, yet. However, because we can conceptualize it -- imagine what it will be like -- it is an important force shaping the visions of todays Travel 2.0 engineers and entrepreneurs.

Check out the blog, which is "All about Virtual Worlds and the Tourism Industry". The site mostly focuses on the development of real world tourism destinations in Second Life.

UPDATE: March 26, 2008: Bill Ryan, heard on : "Web 2.0" was setting interoperability standards (including AJAX and web services, etc.) and creating communities and user-generated content. Web 2.0 was very exploitative of user generated content. "Web 3.0" is engaging more professionals to create user-generated data/content communities by compensating them. Also the semanitic web as the new tech-side supporting the new communities.

What would this mean for the travel and tourism industry? I am not sure. As an academic working on a couple of textbooks during my sabbatical, I think it is involving other academics who may adopt my books to create teaching and learning communities that provide value both for the teachers, students and the world at large. I had not thought about the potential role of compensation -- but am considering it now. I will be working on this over the summer.

(Originally posted on my Web 2.0 Travel Tools Blog - Alan A. Lew)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Avvenu - Remote Computer Access for Road Warriors

Few things drive me more crazy than buying (or buying into) something and then finding a better deal or product at the same or lower price. I use Gmail, for example, even though I know that Yahoo Mail is better. I just keep hoping that Gmail will be updated some day to be more like Yahoo Mail. At least Gmail is free.

In April paid for an account with so I can access my desktop files remotely using my office computer and my new Fujitisu P1610 mini tablet pc. I like Logmein, except for two things: (1) it does not have a search function in its file transfer and sync utility, and (2) you cannot view photo icons in the file transfer and sync.

So now I stumble across which is a lot like Logmein, but offers remote file search and tranfer in its free version (not sure about photo icon viewing). Its paid version allows access to files even when your home/main pc is off by uploading the files you want to access to the Avvenu website. Very cool, and a lot cheaper than, or the even more expensive also allows you to listen and share music on your home computer from a remote computer or PDA. Although I have not tried it yet, it looks to me like is a great utility for the traveling road warrior!

(Click Here to read about my Office Anywhere efforts.)

Blog link:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Best Travel Podcasts of 2007 - Nominees

The following podcasts have been nominated for the People's Choice Podcast Awards for the Best Travel Podcasts of 2007. Congratulations!

- 808 Talk [url] [rss]
- Alaska Podshow [url] [rss]
- Beachwalks with Rox [url] [rss]
- Living in Las Vegas [url] [rss]
- The Amateur Traveler [url] [rss]
- The Dis Unplugged [url] [rss]
- The Meandering Mouse [url] [rss]
- Travel with Rick Steves [url] [rss]
- Trucker Tom Podcast [url] [rss]
- WDW Radio [url] [rss]

Anyone can vote for their favorites, starting July 28th and closing August 11th. The Podcast Awards website is a great place to find new podcasts that you have not heard before.


OK, so I wasn't nominated, but since this is my blog, I can still mention my own travel podcasts: Travelography: World Travel and Tourism News, and Geography for Travelers, both of which got a great plug on the July 1, 2007 episode of the Home Based Travel Agent podcast -- one that I personally listen to more than any of the nominees above.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Travel Planning Your Way: &

Links to two new travel planning website arrived my inbox in the last couple of months that I thought were creative and useful. They both help you decide where to go and what to do when you get their. has a nice ajaxy interface where you indicate your preferences and trip characteristics, and it gives you a list of suggested destinations, which you can then click on to get more information. You can also click to remove the most popular destinations, for those looking for alternatives to the beaten paths. Variables that you can adjust include Nightlife, Dining, Shopping, Nature, Attractions, Dates, Departure city, Budget, Type of trip (backpacker, middle, luxury), Desired temperature, and Continent.

The interface is clean and quick, with limited scrolling and new page openings. Resources include a list of starred must see attractions and links to online magazine articles and prominent webistes, such as There are also links to air, hotel and car rental reservations, though these did not work for me in the alpha-released website. Which kind of make me wonder how they are making money. is somewhat similar to TripBase, but makes its recommendations from a database of trips that have been saved by users. It has a very nice and easy to use interface for building a day-by-day itinerary for a trip, which you can make public or private. You can access and add suggestions for each day, and you give your trip tags which other people can then use to search the public database.

If you are searching for experiences, you can enter a trip name (destination and type) and receive a list of suggestions from the database. You can adjust your preferences by sliding Families-Couples, Luxury-Budget, Adventure-Relaxations, and Nature-Culture. The results change instantly as you change your preferences.

Some of the suggestions did not seem very real -- like an itinerary that included the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Balboa Park and Mission Beach all in one day! (That itinerary was listed as a "Top Family Trip" -- I think my kids would kill me if I tried to make them do all that in one day.) Others, however, are very realistic and provide some great suggestions.

Interestingly, both websites make use of sliders as a way of showing preference. One big difference is that TripWiser is (currently) only for the US, while TripBase is international (yay!).

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blogging in the Tourism Academy

I recently sent out a question to some 1000 or so tourism academics (professors, lecturers, graduate students, and other researchers) on email discussion lists, asking them "Do You Blog?" The purpose was to see how blogging is used by tourism academics. A summary of my findings can be found here:

The major categories or types of blogs that people told me about include:
  • Blogging about Tourism
  • Blogging for Classes and Students
  • Research (and) Blogs
  • Personal Travel Blogs
  • Podcast Blogs
  • Email Lists as Blogs
Click the link above for details. I have been updating these as new blogs are brought to my attention.

Friday, June 01, 2007

TalkShoe - Categories Listing - Travel

TalkShoe - Categories Listing - Travel

TalkShoe has become the destination for podcasters and podcast listeners who want to record live, synchronous, call-in episodes. I usually listen to these after they have been recorded, but if I were more on the ball, I could partcipate in them by either voice or text message. For both podcasters and podcast listeners this service is free, and although the content is entirely user generated, looking at their website they really do resemble a more formal podcast network.

The reason I bring it up TalkShoe here is because they have a Travel category that contains some interesting programs. You can listen to their most recent episodes and see when their next episodes are scheduled.

Not everyone is organized enough to schedule episodes in advance (I could never do that with my podcasts!), but some are. At the time of this mini-review, the following podcasts had scheduled programs:

  • Florida Travel Deals -LorenGray 15 minutes (each week) of information regarding destinations in Florid... Next Episode Time: 06/07/07 02:30 PM EDT Talkcast ID: 27267
  • PlanIt Podcast Live Call Ins - David Martin - Are you looking for the next great party or event location? Do you wa... Next Episode Time: 06/06/07 08:00 PM EDT Talkcast ID: 20394
  • The TRAVELERS JOURNAL - David Bear - The TRAVELERS JOURNAL is a series of 2 minute audio postcards delivere... Next Episode Time: 06/04/07 09:00 AM EDT Talkcast ID: 14057

Thursday, May 10, 2007

VeniVidiWiki -- Wiki Map Travel Guide

VeniVidiWiki: travel guide is a Google map wiki mashup for attractions around the world. Anyone can add a POI (point of interest) to the map and provide as much as possible of the following information:
  • Name of place/poi
  • Category - those shown above are listed as POI with Video -- so they all have a video link; the full list of categories is listed on the left
  • Description
  • Website, and
  • Photo and/or Video links
The wiki has a large number of sites, and crashed a few times when I was trying to view a lot of them. But in general it is quick and easy to navigate, and worth exploring to learn more about attractions in a place you may want to visit.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Virtual STA - Second Life Travel Agency

STA Travel in Second Life

STA Travel is among the largest travel agencies in the world with a focus on student, mostly university, travel. This week, STA became one of the first travel agencies to set up business, or sorts, in Second Life. STA's island in second life will offer:
  1. Dedicated Portal and Orientation Island where students can join Second Life and easily and quickly learn how to navigate the virtual world.
  2. Virtual Dorms that students can customize and use for private meetings and get-togethers.
  3. Virtual Travel Destinations where students can experience Mayan Ruins, an Asian Temple and a French Cafe.
  4. STA Travel Main Office where students can get travel and destination information.
  5. Live Weekly Events and Tours produced by STA Travel as well as numerous travel partners.
  6. Sandbox where students can practice building their own virtual environment.
Not all of these are ready now, but will be soon., and I would imagine that more will be developed in the future as STA, along with other travel providers, continue to experiment with virtual travel.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Google Goes Back to Pre-Katrina Maps

Google Goes Back to Pre-Katrina Maps -

"NEW ORLEANS -- Google's popular map portal has replaced post-Hurricane Katrina satellite imagery with pictures taken before the storm, leaving locals feeling like they're in a time loop and even fueling suspicions of a conspiracy.

Scroll across the city and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and everything is back to normal: Marinas are filled with boats, bridges are intact and parks are filled with healthy, full-bodied trees."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Web 2.0 - Over and Out" - or - Moves In Next Door

EarlyStageVC: Web 2.0 - Over and Out

Amid Peter Rip's (link above) dire predictions of the demise of Web 2.0, I think the emphasis should be on the mainstreaming of Web 2.0 (as evidenced by Time's Person of the Year award). And this should be good news for a travel industry that, to my mind, has a long ways to go to fully utilize the potential of the new social media.

See also the article on TechCrunch, where I first found the link above.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rrove - Save, Share & Discover Places

Rrove "Share Your Special Spots"

Rove is a point or pin map creation tool that mashes up with Google or Yahoo Map. The example above is one person's list and map of the top attractions in Rome. Many of the maps are tourism and travel related (as maps tend to be, in general), including the Best of New York, and World's Best Beaches. Other maps show the location of members of a group (such as VlogInternacional ). Two nice features are (1) Detailed information that can be included on each item posted on the map, including descriptive tags, and (2) A short bit of HTML code that can be easily copied into any web page that you may have.

In fact, I created my own Rrove map for my Responsible Travel Network at (see image below). It was easy to insert the code and tweak the width and height to fit the size restrictions. Now members (and anyone else who visits will be able to post their locations and their favorite responsible travel destinations. (You can also keep your map closed so that only you can post to it.)

Rove also promotes itself as a website for discovering places in the world, based on the maps that users have created. There is a search function, but I found it woefully lacking in its ability to find place that I searched for -- even though I had seen them on existing maps. In addition, there does not seem to be a way to search for a map (which they call "sets"). There were only 97 maps/sets on the day that I created my own map (above). But even then, it was a hassle trying to re-find the maps that I mentioned above.

In sum, is a great tool for creating and embedding user maps on your own web pages. I recommend it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ning - No More Excuses to Creating a Web 2.0 Travel Site is hottest new Web 2.0 tool to be announced this past week. (now in version 2) allows anyone to easily create, through a drag and drop process, a Social Network on which members can post discussion items, blogs, photos and videos, and more. It is entirely free, with advertising, and $19/month without ads. Although it is in no way only for travel and tourism, there were close to 200 social networks that are tagged "travel" on the day that I wrote this.

I have created two social networks of my own at One is centered on my Travelography Travel News podcast (at, and the other is on Responsible Travel and Sustainable Tourism (at

It was very easy to create these, though doing more customizing will probably take some time. In particular, I would like to add a Google Map mashup, which is found a quite a few of the social networks (such as the Travel Tips one, below). The networks with these maps appear to be from version 1 of, and is not a standard tool built into version 2.0. In fact, if anyone has some tips on how to create a map mashup and add it to, I would appreciate the help.

For a video introduction and tutorial to, go to the Scoble Show blog. Also see Ning reviews on Tech Crunch and GigaOM.

NEW (7 Sept 07): There are other web services similar to Ning that may meet your needs better. reviews nine of them here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Step Up Travel - Sustainable Travel Does Web 2.0

"We promote responsible travel which emphasizes the importance of personal exchanges, deeper cultural understanding, genuine benefit to local people and their communities, preservation of the environment, and ultimately a more peaceful and equitable world."

Step Up Travel claims to be the first application of Web 2.0 to Responsible Travel, and I think they may be right. There are older websites devoted to responsible travel, including both resources on responsible travel issues and listings of responsible tour products. Two that I am familiar with are and the Big Volcano Ecotourism Centre. But both of these are in need of a major Web 2.0 face lift. And there is the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, which is sometimes related to the more commercial National Geographic Traveler. As colorful and engaging as National Geographic is, however, it lacks a social interface and comes across as more institutional and less in touch with the "real" people in a destination.

So I think, yes, Step Up Travel is the first responsible travel site on the Web 2.0 era:
  • It has an attractive and clean interface,
  • it provides resources to help make travel more responsible,
  • it appears to be making a concerted effort to market truly local products that support the destination, and
  • it has a Travel Network for "Socially-minded Travelers to Connect with local people, Get off the beaten path, and Change the face of travel."
The Travel Network will be the real test of the success of Step Up Travel in achieving its goals of linking local people with concerned and responsible tourists. I have joined and it is successful.

Monday, February 26, 2007

2007 Travvies Nominees for Best Travel Blogs

Upgrade: Travel Better - 2007 Travvies: Meet the finalists, meet the judges, and vote!

The Upgrade: Travel Better blog is running a "Best Travel Blogs" contest. I just stumbled on this and thought it was a good idea -- at least a way of spreading the word about travel blogs.

I have only heard of a few of the blogs that made the final nominations, and the nomination process seemes a bit free-wheeling. But at least its a start. And I do hope to find some time to check out at least some of the nominees.

Voting ends on February 28th. So it you are the voting type, you need to head over their quickly.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - The Online Motorcycle Community - The Online Motorcycle Community

"The open road meets the Info Superhighway at, a virtual community for people who have a passion for riding."

I am personally not a biker in any way, and this website is still in beta (you need to sign up for an invitation). However, I thought it was an interesting niche travel idea, and one that may catch on with that very devoted segment of the recreation travel and tourism market. I did a quick search and did not find anything quite like what this site may be -- though I can't really tell until it become public. The closest thing was Total, but that seemed a lot more Web 1.0.


Monday, February 05, 2007

"TripConnect allows you to get travel advice from a network of friends and others who share your tastes and interests." (from their website)

TripConnect started up in September 2006 and seems to being going strong. It is another social travel website, like and Like those, and others, TripConnect alows members to list, review and blog about places where you have been, and asking others members about places you want to go. TripConnect also allows you to suggest and join special interest groups (see the image above), which is less common elsewhere -- though others may also have added since the last time I looked! It does seem to be lacking a map interface, which is something that is really well done on the website.

Personally, I found TripConnect to be simple and straightforward - and that alone can give it a considerable advantage in the growing world on social travel websites.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mobile Video Blogging Experiment

Jesse in Belgium sent me a link to a blog where he describes how he recently used his Nokia N91 to take videos, geotag them with a GPS receiver, and upload them to a travel blog -- while traveling in Thailand.

This is probably easier to do in the Europe or the US, and probably impossible in most of the areas of Nepal that I recently traveled through (click here).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Reactive: Web 2.0 for Travel and Tourism

Reactive, a UK and Australia-based web design agency, has released a free "white paper" titled Web 2.0 for Travel and Tourism. The white paper is a good summary of different aspects of Web 2.0 and examples of companies and websites that are using them. Each category (listed below) is discussed in three sections: (1) Basics, (2) How does it relate to the tourism and travel industry?, and (3) Examples. The major Web 2.0 categories are (from their blog):
  • Blogging (Starwood, Eurostar and STA Travel)
  • Podcasting (Lonely Planet, Orbitz, Virgin Atlantic, The Independent and Heartbeat guides)
  • Social networking and user generated content (TripAdvisor, Yahoo, Contiki and Sheraton)
  • Online video (YouTube, Travelistic and MGM Grand Las Vegas)
  • RSS (Expedia, STA Travel, Virgin Holidays, Orbitz, and Conde Nast)
  • Tagging (, Flickr and Travbuddy)
  • Mash-ups and Open API’s (Locale, Virtual Tourism, Blogabond, 43 Places and TripAdvisor)
  • Wikis (Wikitravel, World66 and TripAdvisor)
  • AJAX (Kayak, Sidestep, Farecast and Google Maps)
You can request a copy of the white paper (.PDF) file from Reactive's blog.

Sunday, December 17, 2006's Travel Calendar

The UK-based online travel agency, has just introduced a new, downloadable desktop "Travel Calendar." This seems to be a first, at least for Travel 2.0 applications. You can use the online version of the calendar, but the preferred approach is to download it to your desktop to you can more easily personalize it with your own entries and access it off-line. The "travel" part of the calendar includes special events from around the world, National Geographic-like travel photographs, and, of course, special travel deals and contests that are pushed to the calendar from You can customize the calendar to some degree and can print it.

You need to register with to to download or access the calendar online. Personally, I am not willing to register and install a program on my computer so I can have advertisements pushed to me. If I were a heavy user of, I might consider it -- maybe, maybe not. Either way, it is an interesting way to create a user relationship with a travel company, including user generated customization. It kind of reminds me of Yahoo Travel's Trip Planner. If successful, and I think it probably will be, I think we will see more Travel 2.0 calendaring in the future.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tourism and Social Media Class at NAU

I have added Social Media to my Spring 2007 class, "Planning for Sustainable Tourism". The class is taught 100% online. Hopefully I will not overwhelm the more technologically challenged students in the class! Click on the title above to go to the current version of the class overview. Registration information can be NAU Distance Learning.

OVERVIEW of PL 376 for Spring 2007
- January 16 - May 11, 2007

Click here for Syllabus

Topic Groups: Each student will be assigned to one of the following three groups at the start of the semester. Students will be given the opportunity to switch groups later in the semester. The Final Project will be related to the topic of the group. A couple of sample topics for each group is shown below.

  1. Sustainable Tourism and Money
    • Promoting Destinations and Sustainability Online
    • Monetizing Sustainable Travel and Tourism Websites, Blogs and Podcasts
  2. Sustainable Tourism and the Environment
    • Social Networking for the Environment
    • Online Environmental Education
  3. Sustainable Tourism and Community (Physical and Digital)
    • Online Citizen Participation / Political Activism
    • Virtual Communities and Real Communities

CLASS SCHEDULE - Please See the LEARNING MODULES and CALENDAR for Actual Assignments and Due Dates

This Schedule is Under Construction, though it will probably not change much.

Module 1 - Intro to Class, Sustainability, and Social Media
Class Intro Assignment: Tourism Development Issues
Sustainable Development and Tourism
Social Media and Tourism
Planners and Planning for Tourism
Sustainable Tourism, Planning and Social Media
Midterm Exam #1
Module 2 - Tourism Impacts (using collaborative blogs)
Economic Impacts of Tourism
Social Impacts of Tourism
Environmental Impacts of (and on) Tourism
Topic Group Wiki Projects: Resources for Manging Tourism Impacts, Greening the Tourism Economy, or Tourism Planning for People
Midterm Exam #2
Module 3 - Social Media and Destination Marketing
Final Project: Place Promotion with Social Media (website creation, podcasting, and other Web 2.0 Travel Tools; there is no final exam)

Total Points (subject to change)

Definitions: Social Media - Social Software - New Media

Social Software Tools that will be used in this class, include:

  • Message/Discussion Boards (we will use this in Blackboard-Vista)
  • Websites (this will be part of the final project, most student will use the simple online web creator at, or the free domain service from Microsoft Live)
  • Wikis (at a minimum, there will be one wiki for each of the Topic Groups above)
  • Social Bookmarking (e.g., - optional)
  • Blogs (potentially including video and photo blogging; at a minimum there will be one collaborative group blog for each of the three Topic Groups above)
  • Podcasts ( this will be part of Final Project, and if it is good enough I will put it out on my Geography for Travelers podcast - with your permission, of course; this will also be shared with student at the University of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia)
  • Virtual Reality (optional; can you promote a destination through Second Life? want to try?)
  • Social Networks (all students will be required to join and report on a travel-related social network)