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 (del.icio.us, 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

ebookers.com's Travel Calendar

The UK-based online travel agency, ebookers.com 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 ebookers.com. You can customize the calendar to some degree and can print it.

You need to register with ebookers.com 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 ebookers.com, 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 Weebly.com, 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., Del.icio.us - 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)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Trippermap.com - Making Flickr.com Geotags Easy!

I got an email today from some place called Trippermap.com. At first I thought it was spam and almost deleted it. But instead I opened it a took a look. -- and I am glad I did. Trippermap.com used to be called Flickrmap.com, and I do recall signing up for their service a while ago -- a little before Flickr.com added its own geotagging function. However, at that time I did not really feel like going through and adding geotags to my many Flickr pro account photos -- which now numbers almost 22,000 (most of which are "public").

Well, apparently the Trippermap folks have been updating their tools and I think the current version is great! What they sent me in the mail was a link to my Trippermap, which automatically locates any photo that I have tagged with a city and country. Not all my photos have that, but many do -- and I think it would be quite easy to add those tags to sets of photos in Flickr. I copied the code from the Tippermap site and plugged into my homepage (near the bottom) and now I have a nice size map tagged with icons for many of my public photos , along with a photo bar and java-based viewing function. I have tried a few other Flickr photo bars, but never really liked the results. This is the first one that I will probably keep on my website!

In addition to the basic city and country tag approach to locating photos, Trippermap also provides a Google Earth tool that allows you to use satellite images/maps to locate one or more photos more precisely, and then add the latitude and longitude coordinates direct to your Flickr site photo for searching and viewing using Flickr's map link. A video Tutorial is provided on the Trippermap.com on how to do this.

The free version of Trippermap only comes with a blank outline map of the world, on which photo icons appear, and only shows 200 Flickr photos. Trippermap Premium costs $9.75 year and includes full color Google Maps, all your photos, and Trip Route/Itinerary creation by drawing lines from one photo icon to the next. (Each icon, by the way, can include an unlimited number of photos.) They convinced me to go for the Premium account.

NEW: After posting the blog above, I received an email about Panoramio.com you can geolocate your photos via drag and drop interface and using Google Maps and you can watch uploaded photos inside Google Earth with a KML file (http://www.panoramio.com/panoramio.kml)." - I visited the site, but you cannot really tell what it does without registering, which I was not ready to do (and there was no Bugmenot.com). However, there were some cool sample travel maps on their blog page, and you can also search without registering (type in the name of a place to get a map with geotagged photos).

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Web 2.0: Too much of a good thing?" - Or Not Yet Enought?

Charles Leocha, publisher of the Tripso.com travel travel news and commentary site, recently posted an item titled "Web 2.0: Too much of a good thing?" that readers of this blog might find of interest. (You can also click on the title of this blog to go to his article.)

I read through his "article" (it is not a commentable blog) a couple of days ago and have been troubled by it since. He basically defines "Web 2.0" as user-generated websites, and cites two major uses of Web 2.0 for travel and tourism: sites where users rate places, and sites where users share travel experiences. He then cautions that both rating and sharing sites can be manipulated for insidious or untrustworthy commercial purposes, citing examples from MySpace.com and Sony Pictures -- not the most trustworthy spaces on the Internet, in my opinion.

Personally, I found the definition of Web 2.0 and the examples provided to be very narrow. Two key elements missing are (1) the community and social aspects of Web 2.0, which includes the importance of reputation and trust, and (2) the rich Internet user interfaces and applications (see Web 2.0 on Wikipedia).

Hotel ratings are one of the oldest, and still not very sophisticated, examples of Web 2.0 that Charles Leocha discusses. In fact, I am barely able to to even include TripAdvis0r.com in the realm of Web 2.0 -- it just feels more like a Web 1.0 free-for-all, lacking a real sense of community. I agree with Charles Leocha that it leaves the user with a sense of “Who can I trust?” I think that this is because its user base is so large (over 5 million reviews), that every possible opinion on any place can be found there. It lacks the strength of a Web 2.0 long tail niche community of like-minded users. In my opinion, TripAdvisor could use a major Web 2.0 work over -- more in the direction of 43Places.com. However, with their current use rates, I doubt that they have any incentive to do that!

Is Web 2.0 too much of a good thing? In my opinion, Travel 2.0 is in its infancy. Examples of websites that are exploring and pushing travel and tourism in the direction of user communities and rich interfaces are found in the postings on this blog.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Travel Videos - Coming to a PC near you now!

Travel videos appear to be the hottest thing on Travel 2.0 websites! This really hit me when, in two days I received announcement of new travel videos from the discount travel agency, Travelzoo.com and from the social travel site Tripmates.com.

  • Travel Zoo Unleasehed Travel Videos currently has three 20 minute long videos up: Washington DC, Atlantic City NJ, and Lower Manhattan NY. These have a professional polish, some of which are hosted by budding celebrities.

  • Tripmates' Trip Flix videos are uploaded by site members, and, or course, are much shorter and less professional. It is more of a Youtube.com experience, though probably more focused on sharing destination experiences.
  • -- Also like this is ZoomAndGo.com
  • -- And a note from Indra: VCarious.com also has a Travel Video service. Users can upload their own travel videos, along with their photos. Videos and photos can be attached to the journals and travel guides. Everything can be explored using maps.

There are, however, a bunch of other sites with travel videos, include YouTube.com, the recent $1.6 billion sale of which has probably prompted this sudden rush to enter the video marketplace. Among them are:
  • TurnHere: Short Films, Cool Places - "Free video guides for travel, restaurants, hotels, local events & music". Turn Here is very much place-based. Its professional and semi-professionally produced videos are organized around destinations. The major ones are the San Francisco Bay area, New York metro area, and the Los Angeles metro area. Other cities are also listed, though with fewer films. The videos are really nice -- better than most of my home videos. -

  • Travelistic: Videos for Travelers - "We host all kinds of travel videos, including user uploads, professional content, and tourist board videos". You can search videos on this site by Tags, Places (from a google map that shows the number of videos for each country), and People (that is, the people who made the video).
I did a quick search for other travel video websites and came up with a bunch of them. Many are commercial sites that sell travel videos, and which I am not really interested in covering here. Free sites include a number of destination convention and visitor bureau sites. Some others that are worth checking out are:

Sunday, November 12, 2006

EveryTrail - GPS and Photo Travel Blogging

If you are into GPS, then Everytrail.com is fairly simple concept. If you are not into GPS, you may become more interesting after checking out this interesting website.

Everytrail.com allows users to mashup their GPS tracks and geotag them with photos and short comments. Comments are indeed quite short, so it is not really a full travel blogging application. Instead, the focus is on sharing your treks with the world on a Google Map -- preferably a satellite image. The image draw as a line tracing the route, and the user adds photo and text icons. Zooming in and out is a breeze, making this a is a very nice way to virtually experience a place!

The treks that were up on the site when I visited seemed to be very limited in the number of photos and comments that they included. I wonder if there is a limit. I tend to take a lot of photos on most any trip that I take -- several hundred a day, of which I keep about half. It seems that a high density of photos taken at ground level, combined with the Google satellite image, and short text comments, could go a long way to provide a virtual travel experience. Visitors can also comment on the trails.

Evertrail.com is a fun site, worth checking out.

Friday, October 13, 2006

RealTravel.com Trip Planner Review on TechCrunch

FYI - TechCrunch.com has a good review of RealTravel.com's new trip planner. Click the title above to see what they have to say.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Farecast Expands to 75 Cities

Farecast is now available to for 75 cities! The website that predicts the best air fare prices on a given day based on historical data was previously only available for Boston and Seattle.

Farecast is basically an airline fare search engine. I am not sure just how good it is at that, and suggest that you compare it to your current favorites before you buy anything. What Farecast offers that is unique is a tool that tries to predict when the lowest prices can be found between any two cities. Unfortunately it appears that this tool only works for flights between the 75 cities that are in its database. I could not get a price on a flight between Phoenix and Fairbanks, for example, because Fairbanks is not in its database.

However, this is a big move up from the original two cities that previously made the site a curiosity, but not very useful. The intend to continue to grow the database, and I will look forward to the day when they also add international cities!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tripmates.com: an American "Donkey Friends"?

I recently attended a tourism research conference in Singapore, some of the papers from which are appearing on the Geography for Travelers podcast. One of the things that I learned about, through two different researchers, was the Chinese concept of Donkey Friends. In Mandarin Chinese, the words Travel and Donkey have the same sound ("lyu"), though the tones are different. Because of this, the word Donkey has come to applied to a distinctly Chinese for or "backpacker" travel.

Using a social software travel website, the Head Donkey posts a notice that he or she is going to organize a trip on a certain date to a certain destination, and asks if anyone wants to join. Other Donkeys sign up by responding to this post. The trips are self organized and catered to save money, and everyone has their backpack. Like other tour groups, there are expected standards of behavior and role differentiations (some of which are along gendered lines), and people develop friendships that last beyond the one trip. Apparently the Chinese media has cautioned about the the potential dangers of traveling with strangers. Searching for information in English on Donkey Friend Travel online, however, did not result in anything that I could find.

This type of travel has not, to my knowledge, been very common in the US. Tripmates. com, however, may hope to change that. Tripmates is a new social travel site that share a lot in common with other social travel sites, such as 43Places.com, VCarious.com and MyLifeOfTravel.com, all of which I have used in the past, and the new TripConnect.com. This includes asking and sharing information about destinations and blogging about trips. What is different with Tripmates is an explicit focus on meeting new people. According to the website you can:
  • Find a trip buddy so you don't have to travel alone
  • Organize group trips with our exclusive Tripvite feature
  • Meet locals or people traveling to your destination

There is an interest in this kind of travel, at least among a segment of the population in the west (see, for example, CouchSurfing.com). It will be interesting to see if traveling with Donkey Friends catches on outside of China.

FYI -Tripmates has also been reviewed breifly on Mashables.com

NEW: 6/21/07 - I see that TripMates has changed its name to TripUp.com - though the concept seems to be the same.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

WAYN.COM - Where Are You Now?

WAYN.COM - Log your trips - see who is where - make new friends

If you have a ton of friends who travel all over the world, or if you want a ton of friends who travel all over the world, then WAYN (Where Are You Now) is probably just what you need! Personally, I like my small group of friends, who happen to live all over the world, but I do not feel any need to know exactly where everyone is at any one point in time. However, if you do want to know that, and if they want to let you know that, then WAYN is what you need.

Personally, I am a bit skeptical that people travel all that much, and that they really want to let all their friends and the whole world know every time they make a trip anywhere. Or that they are open to meeting strangers everywhere they go in the world.

But then I am an old guy, who does not do MySpace nor Second Life.

Actually, WAYNE kind of reminds me of 43Places.com, but is much more socially oriented. It is built around your friends, who you can notify about your travels, search to see where they are in the world, and SMS to their cell phone (as well as non-member cell phones). The focus on friends (current and potential) gives it a MySpace-ish feel -- more so than 43Places, which is very social, but feels more focused on places than WAYNE. WAYNE does have place discussion (a core feature of 43Places), and it allows you to upload trip photos.

While it may not be my cut of tea, it is certainly interesting -- so check it out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fresh Logic Atlas

Atlas - powered by Fresh Logic Studios

The Fresh Logic Atlas is an Ajax-like and Google-like mapping site. There are three tabs at the top right of the screen:
  • Start: Directions, Email (send an email to Fresh Logic), Search, Toolbox (zoom and map type), Defaults, and Help
  • Features: Locate with pins Blogs, Events (from Eventful.com), Gas Prices, Movie Theaters, Traffic Notices, and Wifi Hotspots
  • Services: GPS to locate yourself and get direction (beta; requires registration and a GPS receiver coupled with a Windows Mobile 5 pda or phone)
The map of Phoenix, Arizona below shows the Features bar open in the right corner, with Traffic and Event showing on the map. The Traffic notice list is open, while the Event list is closed. Information on one of the Traffic points and on one of the Event points are shown in more detail. The navigation Toolbox is also open.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

The Fresh Look Atlas is graphically the slickest and sophisticated mapping tool that I have seen. It also provides useful information for both residents and visitors to a place. Unfortunately it is currently limited to the US and Canada. And it can be somewhat sluggish, even on my DSL connection -- it appears to be doing a lot of processing! Using it over a dialup would probably be excruciating. Registration gives you additional features (though I could not see just how this was different from not registering). The Fresh Logic Atlas does not work with Safari for Mac OS X.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yahoo! Map and Directions on your iPod

iPod Directions : Use your iPod Video, Nano or Photo as a Yahoo! Maps directions viewer!

My son has an iPod, but I have resisted. I do, however, recognize their overwhelming popularity, and do not deny Apple its great iPod success. o, now all of you who own an iPod Video, Nano or Photo can easily download Yahoo! Map directions to your player -- which could be more convenient, and maybe cheaper, than a GPS unit.

From the website:

"Yahoo Maps and the popular iPod portable MP3 player are used together to bring you an exciting online service called iPod-Directions. What is it? iPod-Directions is a powerful step-by-step directions saving tool that will export online driving directions from results by Yahoo Maps and import them into your iPod. It’s an easy solution for getting Yahoo Map directions saved and displayed onto any iPod Video, Nano or Photo, and without the need of additional software!"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sheraton Becomes Social with New Website

"Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has launched the new Sheraton.com – termed as the first hotel industry website to embrace social media and feature user generated content."

Well,I am impressed. The new Sheraton.com website is a very alive and exciting site. The globe is definitely cool, and inviting. And it looks like quite a few contributors have already added thier peronal Sheraton stories (I think the site when live a month ago), though there are still a few "Be the first" links. I bet we will be seing a lot more of this from the big travel industry players in the coming year.

You can read a short story about this on eyefortravel.com.

Next wave of travel websites feels like MySpace | csmonitor.com

Next wave of travel websites feels like MySpace | csmonitor.com

This is a Christian Science Monitor article on Travel 2.0 (Web 2.0 applied in the travel sector). The article is somewhat narrowly focused on TripAdvisor.com, though it does mention Farecast.com (great idea, if you live in Boston or Seattle, useless for the rest of the world) and Gusto.com (not one I am familiar with). Personally, I think the hottest Travel-Mypace is 43Places.com, though I personally am currently using MyLifeOfTravel.com and Vicarious.com.

CLICK HERE to go to read about and listen to my recent "Travel 2.0" conference presentation on my Geography for Travelers podcast.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The SoundSeeing World of Audio Travel

The SoundSeeing World of Audio Travel

A soundseeing tour is an audio recording of the sounds of a place. There is typically no narrative voice, so it helps to have a website that tells you what the file is about (or to have the file properly coded to show this in the file information). Soundseeing tours are a fairly popular form of podcast, though they usually supplement more traditional podcasts. At least that is the way I have used them in my Geography for Travelers podcast (listen, for example, to my Hawaii episode).

Below are the two best sources for soundseeing tours that I have found. If you know of others, please send me the links (travelgeographer@gmail.com).


"SoundTransit is a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording and phonography."

This is a database of soundseeing tours from around the world. SoundTransit.nl gives you two ways of listening to soundseeing .mp3 files. The first is to search by country and place, which results in a listing and description of contributed sound files.

The second version is more of a random file generator, although that is not very obvious from the description. What it does is it allows you to "Book a Transit" by identifying a start and end place, and indicate 1 to 5 stopovers. The site then generates several sample itineraries of sound files that one might encounter by following this transit. It also creates a map showing the transit route and the locations of the soundseeing files. However, the transits actually make no logical sense. I entered Montreal and Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, and the itinerary included Portland (Oregon), Yamaguchi (Japan), and New Plymouth (New Zealand). The site design is very Web 2.0/Ajaxy, so I am guessing that this randomness is intentional.

SoundTransit.nl is a collaraborative website, and those who wish to post their sound files to the site submit it to the site owners by email with a description. As of this writing, some 225 different people had submitted sound files and were listed in the Artists section. There is no RSS feed, though there are plans to start one in the future.

Soundseeing Podcasts
from the AudioCollective.net

"This podcast is here to aggregate the best of soundseeing podcasts. There are so many great ones and their need to be a central place for finding these gems. Anyone can submit his or her podcast for addition to the feed."

This is more of an open source site for podcasters who play around with soundseeing tours from time to time. They can submit their soundseeing podcast episode here, and anyone who subscribes to the SoundseeingPodcast.com's RSS feed will get it. The result is an incredible diversity of sounds. It looks like there were 42 postings when I checked the site. It also appears to be a way for podcasts to broaden their name exposure, which means that these are experienced podcasters who are posting these audio files. As mentioned above, just hope that the file is properly coded so you can find out just what you are listening to, without having to always check back on the website.

UPDATES (17Aug07)
1- HearingPlaces.org is a new US-based website for soundscenes.
2- I recently posted a soundseeing tour of Danxiashan in China

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

GeoBirds - Your Online Birding Community!

GeoBirds - Your Online Birding Community!

Birding? Tourism? You bet!

Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing niche tourism segments in the world. And Birding is the fastest growing segment of the ecotourism market. Personally, I am not a birder, though I did find that watching the Fairy Penguins return from the sea after sunset on Phillip Island (Melbourne, Australia) last month was absolutely thrilling! (see my travel blog here)

GeoBirds.com is a website for:
(1) Identifying birds - I often wonder about the birds in my backyard; there is also a bird identification game
(2) Sharing sitings of rare birds - This is more for the pro-bird watcher, and includes links to birding clubs!
(3) Learning about birds - an online field guide and news about birds around the world

And so, ummm, how is this Web 2.0? Geobirds.com is a social sharing site and birding is a longtail niche travel market, so I think it fits the definition.

Hmmm, maybe I will try a little birding on my next nature-based vacation. . . .

Sunday, July 09, 2006

VCarious Travel adds Google Maps-based Photo and Journal Searching

Explore the World | VCarious Travel

The travel blog and social software website, Vicarous.com, has recently added the ability to scan over a Google Map to find photos, journals (travel blogs/diaries), and wiki guides for different parts of the world.

The feature is still in beta, but seems to work well (other than being a bit overloaded on their server when they first put the feature up a few days ago). You can zoom in on the map to filter out photos and journals for geographic areas you are not interested in. And you can filter the photos by set category tags, such as Oceans, Landscapes, Cities, Wildlife and Travelers, or by typing locations or photo titles.

The photos are not very large, however, probably due to the fact the Vicarious allows unlimited uploads and its upload tool allows you to pull entire folders off your computer and from a Flickr.com account. It is possible to get to a larger version of each photo, but is takes several clicks and is not intuitive. (By comparison, MyLifeOfTravel.com has nice, big photos readily viewable on its travel blogs.) And, of course, for the photos to show up on the map Explore page, the photos need to be tagged to a location. Vicarious allows you to locate all the photos uploaded as a batch in one simple step, and allows you to title each photo at the time of upload in a very quick and easy way.

The wiki guides allow similar filtering and searches, while the journals can be searched by "concepts" only, which I assume are words that appear in the journals. As a relatively new website, Vicarious does not have the entire world covered, and only has about 350 members listed on its site. I must say, though, that Vicarious has gone through an entire facelift since the first time I visited the site a couple of months ago. They have also addes a route-tracing map tool (connecting the destinations on trip with a line), which I had not seen before (though it is not as flexible as a similar tool on MyLifeOfTravel, which allows several locations to be placed in each blog entry).

The new map searching capability on Vicarious.com is really nice and is an attractive tool for those of us who take LOTS of photos on their travels that they want to share. Check it out by clicking on the blog title above.

Tags: ,,,,,,,,

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wifi Free Spot.com - free wifi hotspots worldwide

WiFi Free Hotspots.com

You pretty much have to be online to access Web 2.0. For me, this has become the single biggest hassle of traveling! After my recent trip (to Australia, blogged here), I have sworn to only use hotels that can provide high speed Internet access, preferably wireless.

And of course, wouldn't it be great if it were free, as well?

Well, WifiFreeSpot.com lists airports, hotels, campgroungs, vacation rentals, coffee shops, bookstores, and other places that offer free wifi access. This site is likely to become a must-use resource for my future travel planning. It is part of JiWire.com, but I found it much easier to use than JiWire's hotspot finder, which focuses more on paid hotspots. (JiWire does have an interesting wifi newsletter that I susbcribe to.)

BTW - You should really install a personal firewall when using public wireless access points, and even hotel ethernet wired access points. I use the free Comodo Personal Firewall, which is discussed on the Leading Edge Technology podcast. I only turn it on when I am traveling.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Other Web 2.0 Related Travel Blogs

Of course, why should I think that I am the only one out there blogging about online innovations in travel and tourism? Here are a two more that I just learned about and which cross many of the same boundaries that I do, though each in our own way. Check these out:

Les Explorers - by Claude Benard
<http://www.lesexplorers.com/> covers a wide range of travel and tourism, and while I do not know any French, I still find it of considerable interest

Hotel Blog - by Guillaume Thevenot
<http://www.hotel-blogs.com> had a focus on the hotel and hospitality industry, though not exclusively so

Let me know if there are any other worthy blogs out there, and I will add them to this blog entry.

Friday, June 23, 2006

TripHub and Triporama - Group Travel Planners

What could be more social than traveling witha a group of friend and/or relatives to a fun destination? Well there are two (that I know of) free social software websites that help you to start developing the social relationships for such a journey online.

- According to the webiste:
"Plan a Group Trip -- Create your trip, then use our tools to:
* store and share travel research; * manage invites; * conduct polls; * coordinate travel; ...and more."

- According to the website, you can
"Easily plan and organize your trip for free! -- Create a Trip Home Page; Invite people to join the trip; Send Invitations; and Discuss & Share Plans"

Triporama currently appears to have a few more features, but TripHub may be easier to use. I suspect that competition will drive them to each add more tools to one-up the other. Both provide tips and ideas for group travel.

From my own experience, making group travel arrangements is not the easiest thing in the world to do in a smooth and painless way. So if you are given that responsibility, you might want to check these two sites out for tips and help to ease your planning efforts.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Latitudes Magazine - Travel Attitudes Magazine for Broadband

Latitudes Magazine - Travel Attitudes Magazine for Broadband

This is National Geographic 2.0 -- a gorgeous online travel photo magazine with Italian flare and built for online viewing. A broadband connection is necessary and the latest issue (#14) is 181 pages of sharp full color photos and animations.

Issue #14 covers Columbia, Myanmar, The Berkshire Hills (Massachusetts), Mt. Etna, Berlin, Croatia, Tuscany and Salina (Italy). Look for animations (some hidden) in some of the photos. Basic Travel information and links are provided at the end of each photo essay.

The magazine comes in Italian and English versions. You can subscribe to their newsletter to get announcement of each new issue. The have a discussion forum, but with no moderators it is almost entirely filled with spam! They must be graphic artists first, and web masters last.

Very cool! - Check it by clicking on the title above.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Online Travel Maps - a mini review

Online Travel Maps - a mini review

The folks over at TechCrunch (a new media blog site) have been comparing the different map search engines, including maps.Google.com, maps.Yahoo.com, Microsoft (local.live.com), maps.Ask.com and Mapquest.com. The competition is heated and new feature rollouts make comparisons a moving target. Their "winner" (in April 2006) was maps.Yahoo.com, which includes detailed traffic information for major cities and an easy to use interface that includes listing of services, restaurants and other places of potential interest to travelers.

Click Here to see the full TechCrunch assessment, which includes a table that compares the major features that are offered (and not) by each map.

Taking a quick look at all of the different sites listed above, I agree that the maps.Yahoo.com interface has the best combination of usefulness and usability. However, I found that maps.Ask.com has the nicest looking color aerial images of Flagstaff, AZ, which made finding my house much easier on their website than any other. And that oldie but goodie Mapquest.com, which still has a very Web 1.0 static map, had the most accurate street maps of Flagstaff.

To compete, Microsoft has added live traffic indicators to its maps, though it listed far fewer road incidents in Phoenix, AZ, than did the Yahoo map viewed at the same time. And Microsoft has a preview site of for Streetside (at http://preview.local.live.com/; also reviewed at TechCrunch). This site shows front and side photo views of streets in downtown San Francisco and Seattle. Pretty cool, especially if you are familiar with one of those two places (I found my old apartment in SFO!), though the interface is a bit clunky, kind of like playing a very old vide car driving game.

Personally, I think any of them will do a good job in getting you from point A to point B, but these new toys can be fun!

p.s. - This review also appears on my Geography for Travelers blog.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, May 26, 2006

iAudioguide.com & Other Podcast Walking Tours

I recently received an email from Torsten Peters at iAudioguide.com with updated information about their free downloadable audio walking tours, which currently cover London, Barcelona, and Paris. Interestingly, he included a couple of competitor urls and told me that if I wanted more he would send them. I said yes, and boy was I surprised at the number of links he sent me. At some point, when I have some free time (ha!), I will write a review article on this topic, possibly for my journal, Tourism Geographies. But in the meantime, I wanted to share the links with all of you. Torsten noted that iAudioguide.com is free, while most of the others charge a fee for their downloads. If you know of any others that I should add to this list, send them to me (travelgeographer@gmail.com) and I will add them to this list.

Thanks to Torsten!

BTW - What should we be calling these? Auidoguides? Audiotours? Podguides? Podtours? ??

www.soundtrek.org/ - Bangkok
NEW: Passport Guides for the PSP: http://psppassport.com/

related articles

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

DIY Free Passport (and Visa) Photos at ePassportPhoto.com

Save your money! Don't spend the outrageous fees at Kinkos for passport and visa photos. This websites helps you create your own.

I especially like this list of 10 Do's and don'ts for passport photos -- The MANY Sample Photos are both informative and humorous!

Check it out at: ePassportPhoto.com

From the webiste:
  • ePassportPhoto is the Internet passport photos booth - empowering people around the world to make free and valid passport photos.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Schmap - Never Buy Another Guidebook?

Online destination information has long been available in Web 1.0 format. These websites were rather limited in the past (fear of competing with print guidebooks, I think), though they seems to be getting more comprehensive.

More recently, online audio guidebooks have started to proliferate in the podosphere (podcasts and videocasts/vodcasts), replacing the never-really-that-popular cassette tape guides (examples include www.iAudio.com, PodGuides.net and www.Vidocity.com). While helpful tools for general background information on a destination and site-specific walking tours, audio and video guides will never be able to replace the diversity and quick lookup capabilities of printed guidebooks. (I will be writing a broader review of audio guides in a forthcoming blog.)

www.Schmap.com takes a different approach -- and one that is directly aimed at the printed guidebook. The Schmap Player installs on Windows PCs (not Macs, yet) and then works with downloaded destination information (Schmap Guides). Once is a downloaded, the Schmap Guide enables (from the website):
  • Dynamic Browsing - The Schmap Player dynamically integrates maps, photos, reviews and online content, giving you complete freedom to explore.
  • Trip Planning - When you're browsing, searching or playing a virtual tour, simply bookmark places of interest to tailor a trip itinerary.
  • City Search - Search the city, a neighborhood, or within a radius of your hotel - find sights of interest, restaurants to match your taste...
  • Custom Guide Printing - Take your bookmarked places or any other selection of guide content, then custom print a full-color guide, with maps, photos, reviews...
  • Virtual Tours - Play, pause and fast-forward your way through one of our suggested tours, or your own custom selection of places of interest. (The photos used are from Flickr.com with creative commons copyrights.)
  • Tools - Email a favorite place, explore with our cool map tools, click online for user reviews, web search, and driving directions...
Perhaps the most popular feature is the maps, which highlights attractions and services as the cursor passes over their locations. This is helpful for trip planning and preparation, though it also requires that you take your computer with you and possibly a printer if you want to print out a revised hardcopy itinerary and reference. If there were a way to save the information for viewing on a PDA, cell phone or mp3 player, that would be cool.

Only a few guides for the US and Europe are currently available, though forthcoming guides and their availability months are listed. Their dependence on local partners may result in considerable variability in quality and content, and may cause some guides to be delayed or not regularly updated. By late 2006, the site will have couple hundred city and destination guides, including Canada. They hope to cover the rest of the world with time and expanded participation from local partners located in the destinations who can update the Schmap Guides on a 3 to 6 month basis. All of this currently seem to be free and without advertising, though I wonder it that might changed someday. In the meantime, Schmap appears to be a valuable Web 2.0 Travel Tool worth checking out for your next trip.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Life of Travel - Travel Journals/Blogs, Reviews, Photos, + Maps

I think I may have found my preferred travel blog site.
My Life of Travel bills itself as "The fun, easy and powerful way to publish travel stories, upload photos and grow travel maps online."

One thing that this side does that is different from other travel blog sites is that it allows you to create a "Travel Route Map" - which is essentially a line map that connects the places you have visited with straight lines that mark your travels over time. A sliding bar is used to move back and forward in time. This is a significant improvement over the simple dot maps that most other travel blog sites are now adopting.

Really cool! Check it out.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

VirtualTourist.com - Largest Social Travel Site?

VirtualTourist.com - Travel Guides, Maps, Photos, Forums, Deals, more:

"Worldwide Travel Guide. Tips, Reviews & Photos plus Hotels, Restaurants, Activities & More"

VirtualTourist.com may be the largest travel social website today, with over 700,000 members. In the previous 24 hours prior to this posting there were: 1,075 new travel tips posted; 2,034 new forum postings; 1,175 new page comments; 76 new travel deals; and 432 new members!

TripAdvisor.com is also a much visited social-like website (19 million visit per month), though with a much more narrow focus on accommodation reviews -- over 4 million user reviews, so far.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

PAGUNA - Hotel Bookings in AJAX


This is probably the slickest hotel booking site yet! I do not know if they have the best prices, but I do know that it is fun to use!

I received this note from the developers:

By utilizing AJAX, we were able to design the website so that the customer can complete the entire booking process on one HTML page.

From our point of view, the utilization of AJAX in a hotel booking website increases usability greatly. By fitting the entire booking process onto one page, Paguna enables the user the always know which step of the booking he currently is in, and the search and booking processes is easier and more efficient. If you compare using Paguna with “traditional” hotel reservation websites, you will notice how much more quickly you can make changes, read hotel information, and look at pictures of the hotel when using Paguna.

As far as we know, Paguna is the first commercial application of its kind which uses AJAX intensively in order to realize a new usability concept.


Another apparently Ajax-based hotel (and hostel) booking site is TripMojo. It is very basic, however, in comparison to Paguna, and seems to rely on any casual viewer (including hotels, themselves) to add information and links to the accommodations that are included.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Eventful: Demands -- Create Your Own Real Event!

Not exactly travel, but related in a leisure/recreation sort of way...

Eventful: Hottest Demands:

Eventful Demand - A new service giving you tools to make dream events come true.

How It Works (learn more)
1. Start a demand
2. Join and promote demand
3. Reach critical mass
4. Contact performer
5. Performer agrees
6. Schedule event
7. Eventful sends you an email

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I Love Travel Stories

The subtitle for this webpage is: The best new travel writing on the web? You choose. You decide. -- which, of course, is what makes it Web 2.0!

I am personally not that into traditional travel writing and reading. (Travel blogging is another story -- though I am not quite sure what the difference is!) But, for those of you who love travel writing, the I Love Travel Stories website (still in beta) looks like a cool site where you can both submit and vote on the best articles available on the web.

If you are a Travel Writer, you should check out:
Based on the large number of links on this site, I would guess that travel writing is a very popular activity these days!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Flagr.com Goes Live! - map your trips

Flagr.com went live today. The idea is to place google map type pins on a map, with comments, to show friends and others where you have been (or where you will be). Locations can be very specific (many of the eraly pins are restaurant reviews) or more general (such as a city). Comments and thumbnail photos can also be included. Pins can be placed either through a cell phone or logging into your Falgr.com account. Updates can be emailed to friends.

To see My Flagr Page, which is under construction, click here. This is fun! Click the title above to get your own Flagr account.

** JumpClaimerer.com - offers a similar travel tracking and mapping service, but based solely on SMS/text messaging. It seems more basic, and less of a social networking site than Flagr, but I could be wrong about that. Check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


This site uses a Google Map to display Last Minute Vacation Rentals, which they define as rentals that available in the coming two-week period (sounds appropriate to me). Last minute rentals are not necessarily a Web 2.0 phenomenon, but the use of Google Maps is. All you do is click on the Map Pin to get an instant pop up of the property -- incredibly fast, fun and easy to use! They don't have a lot of properties up at the moment, probably because they are so new.

I think we will soon be seeing more of these kinds of mapping applications beyond the last minute travel realm.

MBA & Ph.D. in eTourism

A Web 2.0 Tool? Possibly. In any event, there is nothing like a good dose of higher education to help that salary and career along...

-----Original Message-----
From: Frew, Andrew [AFrew@QMUC.ac.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 7:52 AM
Subject: Ph.D. scholarships

There are opportunities to study for a Ph.D. in the field of eTourism:
If you are interested in any of these topics just get in touch or perhaps post on relevant notice boards.

By the way our MBA (eTourism) survey is still open if you are interested.

Kind regards, Andy

Andrew J Frew, Ph.D.
Professor/Chair of IT and Tourism; Director, SITI
School of Business and Enterprise, Queen Margaret University College
33 Clerwood Terrace, Corstorphine, Edinburgh, EH8 12TS, UK
Tel +44 131 317 3596; Fax +44 131 317 3777

Queen Margaret University College has been named Britain’s top higher education college in The Sunday Times University Guide 2005
- Editor-in-Chief; Information Technology and Hospitality
- President, Hospitality IT Association, HITA;
- President, International Federation of IT in Travel & Tourism, (IFITT)
Advisory Board, HITEC

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Podbop.org - Local bands podcast

Podbop is more entertainment than travel, but since so much of travel is recreation and entertainment, I think it probably fits here. This is a cool website/tool. Type in the name of a US city (unfortunately it is not yet available for the rest of the world) and you will be giving a list of upcoming live concerts and events, with links to some other event sites. The cool part is that you also get an RSS feed that will feed songs from the bands that are coming to your town. I am assuming that it works, as I have just subscribed for my town and have yet to download anything.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

VCarious.com Travel

Another social website worth checking out.

From the website:

VCarious is a community-based travel site. You can use VCarious to explore the world through dynamic travel guides and photos, meet other travelers, and share your experiences with family and friends.

Start by using GeoExplorer to browse content from all over the map. To find something specific try a Search. Want to meet friends? Try the User Search. Contribute to VCarious by editing any of the guides or listings. Or share your trip by adding your own journal and photos. Happy Travels!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Is Podcasting "The death of the guidebook? "

I saw this posted on the Amateur Traveler podcast shownotes (thanks Chris2!). I tend to agree with the conclusions to the article that guidebooks will not go away (I'll take a paper map over one on my PDA anytime!) -- and that destination podcasts will only grow in popularity. Most people want to learn as much as they can about the places that they visit and podcasts make a great supplement to guidebooks -- unless maybe if you are into Experimental Tourism!

NEW: Digital options lighten load for tourists - By Reuters February 18, 2006, 1:59 PM PST

Friday, February 03, 2006

TravelPod - The Web's Original Travel Blog

(click on title above to go to webpage)

TravelPod.com is devoted exclusively to travel blogs, aka online "travel journals" and "travelogues." Started in 1997, it probably was the first website to offer this service. Membership (which is free) allows you to submit blog entries about your trip, upload photographs, and even upload video and audio files (travel podcasts). You can create an address book of people who will be notified each time you make a blog entry of file upload. And, TravelPod will track your entries on a world map for others to see. Pretty cool!

Members also have access to personal guest books (blog visitors), budget travel resources, email accountes, newsletters, and discussion forums.

I started my blogging life this past year when my daughter recommended that I do a blog for a trip that I was taking the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia. I spent many a late evening writing up blog entires on my laptop, which I later uploaded to blogger/blogspot.com. For my next trip blog, I will probably be using TravelPod!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Podcasts about Tourism and Travel

(click the title above to access this website)

Some say that blogging was the birth of Web 2.0. Podcasting is essentially audio blogging and there has been a gradually growing number of podcasts related to travel. Travel and tourism podcasts tend to be of three types (with considerable overlap among individual podcasts):
  1. Destination Podcasts (describing and selling destinations)
  2. Travel Experience Podcasts (including sound-seeing tours)
  3. Travel/Tourism Industry and Education Podcasts (including news and opinion)
This website (which I maintain) focusses on #3 in this list, though it also includes links to podcasts directories that include destination and experience podcasts.

Mark Peacock of the Travel Commons podcast suggested that travel podcasts can also be divided into those that are Original (specifically for podcasting) and those that are Repurposed (originally broadcast as traditional radio programs, for example).

Here is a recent article on Travel Podcasts:
Digital options lighten load for tourists -
By Reuters February 18, 2006, 1:59 PM PST

NEW and Under Construction: Travelcasts - Travel and Tourism Podcasts Blog


TripAdvisor.com is the largest travel review site around, though its focus is mostly on selling hotel rooms. I heard that it was purchased by Expedia in 2005 to add some Web 2.0 to the Expedia website, though other than listing TripAdvisor as a "partner," there is no sign of this on eiter website.

TripAdvisor is far from the community comment tool that Yelp.com and 43Places.com are, but I would guess that they are looking at those sites for future development of their own.

From their website:

The largest site for unbiased travel reviews gives you the real story about hotels, attractions and restaurants around the world. Stories, secrets and special places from people just like you. Search, travel, then share your own experiences.
  • 3,000,000+ unbiased reviews and opinions you can trust
  • Updated every minute, every day by real travelers
  • "Been there, done that" inside information
  • The best deals for your travel dates

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Virtual Malaysia - Malaysia Tourism Portal

I was preparing a talk last year on Tourism Implications of Longtail Economics when I stumbled on the Virtual Malaysia website. Wow! -- they were doing almost everything that I was going to talk about.

Their website is highly interactive, allowing traveler tales and photo sharing; they provide a wide variety of live tools and tips for travelers; they have a section on mobile pocket travel; and they have even created a separate photography community site within their tourism portal. They have videos, music, and a beautiful 360 degree photo gallery! (Though they do not yet have a podcast.)

From the Community section of VirtualMalaysia.com:

  • Welcome to VM Community page, a place where valued users such as you get to take part in our many interesting features that we have installed especially for you. Share your travel experiences, memorable photos, or send personalised E-cards to friends and family. Join our membership programme and enjoy great discount on hotel stay and special discounted rates off VM merchandise! Tell us about your experiences or send us opinions about our portal in our Guestbook. just a little gesture from all of us as a way to say 'Thank You', we sincerely hope that you each and every visit to our website.

On my last visit to Kuala Lumpur I happened to meet the owner of the Virtual Malaysia, and learned that they have received numerous travel industry awards for online innovations. They clearly represent a likely model for a Web 2.0 destination portal, and I expect that many others will be copying them as time goes by. (VirtualMalaysia.com is not associated with any of the government tourism authorities in Malaysia.)

World 66 Guide (and Map Tool)

Wolrd 66 is another wiki travel guide, which allows users to freely edit and add text information (see Wikitravel). Unlike Wikitravel, however, World 66 does not feel like Wikipedia at all, and appears to be pre-loaded with text (Wikitravel has quite a few empty pages). World 66 also includes a useful Accommodation search facility.

The MyWorld66 tab takes you to a Travel Tools list that includes the cool Visited Countries map making tool that I previously blogged on my Geography for Travelers site. In addition to world countries, however, the tools allow you to make maps of US states and Canadian provinces.

Registering with the World66 website gives you "a homepage for your maps and for the other travel tools and your name will appear with the articles you write."

There is also a mobile phone version of the website (world66.com/alt/xhtml) and destination guides are available as .pdf files and in the repligo mobile phone format.


This is a Worldwide travel guide that looks and feels like Wikipedia (the popular user editable encyclopedia). According to the main page:

  • Wikitravel is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide. So far we have 6931 destination guides and other articles written and edited by Wikitravellers from around the globe.

You can register and create a My Page, track certain articles, and track your own contributions.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


(click on the title above to go to the website)

From the website: "Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great - and not so great - in your neighborhood and beyond. You already know that asking friends is the best way to find restaurants, dentists, hairstylists, and anything local. Now, Yelp makes it fast and easy to make and receive real reviews from real people." - It covers the SF Bay Area best, but is expanding to other US cities. Hopefully the rest of the world will come next.

Note that CitySearch.com has many more reviews for more places than Yelp, including its own Editorial Profiles. However, it has more of a Web 1.0 interface (feels like the Yellow Pages) and lacks social networking and community building tools.


(click on the title above to go to the website)

43Places is a highly interactive social website where people list and discuss both places they want to go to and places where they have been. Quite fascinating, with a lot of travel tips and place descriptions.

43Places also creates a map of the places that you have visited, which can be made accessible on your personal homepage. The process is a bit slower than the Visited Countries mapping tool that is found on World66.com, and it requires registration with the 43Places.com website, which World66.com does not.

BONUS SITE: When you register for 43Places.com you also join the 43Things.com website, where people answer the question: "What do you want to do with your life?" At the time of this posting, "Travel" was he most common tag (at 4278), and the most frequently listed goal that was tagged with Travel was to "Take More Pictures." See the top 15 Travel tagged goals list here.

A third tool that comes with membership in 43Places.com is 43People, where members list the people they have met and would like to meet.

Web 2.0 Travel Tools - Goals

This blog is devoted to creating a list of web 2.0 websites and webtools that are, in some way, related to Travel and Tourism.

What is Web 2.0? I suggest these websites to answer that question:

* Web 2.0 : the 24 Minute Documentary (video on TechCruch)
* Web 2.0 Videos and Powerpoint Presentations - If you are a visual learner, this is great
Wikipedia - "Web 2.0"
* You know you're Web 2.0 when... (Dion Hinchcliffe's Web 2.0 Blog)
* What is Web 2.0 (Tim O'Reilly)
* What Web 2.0 means to you
Go2Web20.net - The complete Web 2.0 directory - not really very complete as it only contains a handful of travel sites
* Virtual Karma - Complete List of Web 2.0 Applications - a bit more complete because readers can add their own selections in the comments area