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.