Sorry, We Are Not In Right Now


Thanks for checking out our blog, we really appreciate it.

However, our blog has moved to

Sorry that you have to visit another site to find us, but it is worth it...we have all of our 'classic' posts and comments on the new blog, plus a ton of new thoughts and ideas.

Why are we moving? Basically, Blogger failed us and never responded to our emails and requests. A clear example of poor customer service...too bad, we liked Blogger.

Come over and see us on the new blog.

Troy and Mo

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Travel Trends - 2-D Barcodes, TripIt, Ricoh 500SE

Smartpox - Create a 'pox' (2-d barcode, see the image above) with any information you review, link to a song, scavenger hunt clue...and stick it on a sign, wall, anywhere. Then, when users see your barcode, they can take a picture of it with their cell phone and download the review or song. Pretty much any type of text-based information can be contained in the barcode.
- Using the same technology as Smartpox, is a non-profit, community-driven project that allows users to create and distribute Semapedia-Tags (again, think barcodes) that link to the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. So, for example, you could be walking past Chase Field, see a 'barcode' and take a picture of it with your cell phone. Your phone would then pull up the Wikipedia page about Chase Field, telling you everything you need to know about the stadium.

- A new travel site from Hotwire co-founder Gregg Brockway, TripIt wants to help users keep all of their travel-related materials in one place, regardless of where they book online. Once a user enters a flight reservation (for example), TripIt will automatically add basic info for your trip (maps, weather, directions) as well as allow you to share the info with friends, family,, the service is aiming to be widely accessible via the web, mobile or in your calendar.

Ricoh 500SE - Map all of your photos with the GPS enabled, Ricoh 500SE. A glimpse into what is coming for the mainstream...GPS information embedded into portable, electronic devices. With this camera, you can download your images to create custom maps with pin-points for all of your photos. Never have to ask the question 'where was that photo taken?' again.

Travel Trends - VibeAgent,, YouTube, Twitter

VibeAgent - Still in private beta (not open to the public), VibeAgent is hotel search / booking engine site where members can create a network of trusted friends and groups that share similar interests, locations, destinations or opinions. (If you want to take a look at the site, let me know...I have 5 invitations to the private beta site.)
- A fashion site in a former life, jumps into the social-networking travel space offering users a way to 'quickly sift through the more than 50,000 hotels in 165 countries available through, creating a manageable and meaningful handful of choices.' Interestingly, will then let users book directly with the hotel's site, rather than an Expedia-like booking site. Plus, allows users to create 'boo crews', groups of friends you can rely on for information...very similar to the new offering from TripAdvisor and the soon-to-be offering from VibeAgent.

- Is YouTube heading down the same slippery slope that AOL slid down several years ago? Simon Dumenco at Advertising Age draws some interesting comparisons in his opinion column. More and more, content providers are asking the question, why can't we do this too?

Twitter - Go ahead and call it the next big thing...a lot of people already are. Based on a simple question, 'What are you doing?', Twitter allows users to post mini blog entries on their Twitter page via SMS, instant messaging or email. Then, your friends or 'followers' can receive constant updates on what you are doing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Read Those Review Sites Carefully

TripAdvisor is the biggest player, but many other travel sites offer consumer-based opinions and reviews about hotels and destinations. Deciding which comments to trust isn't always easy:

Consider the source: Anonymous reviews may still be the norm, but reading a poster's previous critiques, travel interests, and biographical details can help weed out phony, overly flattering comments sparked by hotel marketers or diatribes written by competitors -- and give a better sense of whether your tastes are compatible with those of the poster. Many sites provide contact information for registered users, as well. One potential warning signal: gushing or negative comments written by someone who hasn't posted any other reviews.

Size matters: As Consumer Reports notes, much travel information created by consumers "is just plain wrong," and "many reviewers are either very happy or very unhappy. The truth is probably in the middle." Sites with critical mass can help you discount the extremes. (, the industry's 800-pound gorilla, posts one or two new reviews a day on the most popular hotels in major destinations.)

A picture can be worth a thousand words: Notes Mark Ashley in his blog Upgrade: Travel Better, "I'm more likely to trust detailed reports that include both the good and the bad (no stay is perfect) and user-generated photos."

Be leery of outdated reviews that may not reflect current conditions:, for example, requires that reviews be posted within six months of a hotel stay and removes them after one year. Many other sites, Expedia-owned TripAdvisor among them, keep reviews online indefinitely.

Don't discount the experts: Some travel sites, such as, post professional and user reviews side by side.

Thoughts// A good collection of tips and thoughts from the USA Today about using UGC when planning a trip.

Will Internet Access on Planes Really Fly?

E-mail and instant messaging -- coming soon to a plane near you.

In the top floor of a low-slung office building in suburban Chicago, just a few miles from O'Hare Airport, a group of Aircell's 130 employees is working on tapping into one of the last internet-free zones: the mile-high, in-flight experience. And a key member of its team is digital agency AKQA. >> Full Story

Thoughts// An interesting article on the development of internet access on airlines.

Thursday, June 21, 2007, Wikitravel Win Webby Awards

The Webby Awards, an international award ceremony honoring the best of the Internet, was held in New York City from June 3-5. What have been called the "Oscars of the Internet," the Webbys are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. The body is made up of 550 members, including leading Web experts, business figures and creative celebrities.

Here are the winners and nominations from the Tourism and Travel categories:

Webby Award Winner (

People's Voice Winner (

Sydney Wildlife World (
Tourism New Zealand (
Tourism Australia (
Vail Resorts: Resort Explorer ( (

Webby Award Winner
Wikitravel (

People's Voice Winner
TripAdvisor (

Nominees (
Gods of Chinatown ( (
TripAdvisor (
Wikitravel (

Thoughts// Needless to say, AOT will be entering the Webby Awards in 2008. A 'webby' would look very nice in the conference room.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Travel Trends -, Delta SiteSeer Challenge, Royal Caribbean - Launched this week, this 'TripAdvisor meets Digg' travel site allows travelers to add user-generated news and reviews, which are then ranked by popularity.

Delta SiteSeer Challenge
- Another major airline trying the (semi) user-created video contest (Southwest being the latter). Send in your video on why you should be in the contest, compete against 5 other teams, get video taped enjoying a Delta destination...the public votes for their favorite team, last team standing wins 1 million SkyMiles.

Royal Caribbean Tried-and-True Travel Tips - A very controlled user-generated content offering from Royal Caribbean. Submit your best tip in response to a monthly question...a simple way to receive positive UGC.

Delta Launches 'SiteSeer' Video Section

Delta Air Lines has launched SiteSeer Travelcast, a series of free, downloadable travel shows that aim to connect with passengers and highlight the travel experience of the airline's employees.

At launch, the travel videos, located at, featured seven cities, including New York; Seoul, South Korea; and Mumbai, India, as of press time. Delta planned to launch a total of 10 videos. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Similar to some other airlines (Virgin Atlantic), Delta's new 'SiteSeer' Travelcast delivers online destination videos from real Delta employees. The travelcasts, which can be viewed online or downloaded to an iPod, take the user on a short tour of a Delta-serviced city. The videos and content are good quality, but it will be interesting to see if Delta expands this offering with more professional videos or takes the larger step and begins allowing user-generated videos on the site.

Monday, June 18, 2007

TripAdvisor Trots Out Social Network

TripAdvisor, that sea of au courant and sometimes complaint-driven posts about hotels, is making it easier to find like-minded travelers. The subsidiary of Expedia plans to roll out a social-networking component Friday that should help you avoid those less-than-helpful "no ice in the water" comments about foreign hotels.

While you may roll your eyes at the idea of yet another social-networking site, keep in mind that TripAdvisor, which claims 10 million unique users, has cultural custom on its side. >>Full Story | TripAdvisor Press Release

Thoughts// In the works for the last few months, the new TripAdvisor 'Traveler Network' takes advantage of a reported 6 million members and creates a potentially powerful social networking site. While the CNET article does make light that this is another travel-related, user-generated content site, the user traffic and marketing prowess of TripAdvisor (Expedia) should propel the new offering past a variety of other competitors.

Currently, the actual user-generated offering is fairly basic (add friends, Google Maps mashup), but considering TripAdvisor's audience, this should be a good strategy. As the article alludes to, the next phase of the 'Traveler Network' should include 'a "find travelers like me" feature for expanding your network' and receiving more personalized recommendations.

In addition, AOT has been in contact with TripAdvisor (prior to the announcement) to evaluate this and future projects to ensure that AOT is able to take full advantage of these new product offerings.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Word of the Week - Creative Commons

A San Francisco nonprofit group chaired by Stanford law Professor Lawrence Lessig, Creative Commons also describes a new type of copyright -- one with "some rights reserved," enabling artists, authors and others to share their works freely with the world at large. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses.

Travel Trends - TripWiser, Tripbase, Photosynth, Everyscape

TripBase - Another travel recommendation site, TripBase takes advantage of some new technologies to allow users to select what features they want in a vacation and then makes recommendations based on what has been chosen. A great interface and a good site, however booking your vacation takes you to another site (

Tripwiser - Get travel recommendations from other users by browsing various itineraries and then adding trip ideas to your itinerary. The site does feature profiles, but does not appear to take advantage of them in a social recommendation offering.

Everyscape - Combining Google Maps technology with a 3D world created by several hundred images, Everyscape allows users to explore various locations in a true 3D setting. Currently in beta, you can explore the Union Square area of San Fransisco or allow the site to guide you in the 'autodrive' mode.

Photosynth - A new project from Microsoft, Photosynth takes photos from a particular location and creates a 3D image to explore. A user can explore the vairous photos by zooming or clicking around the 3D image. (Note, there is some software to download in order to view this project. Also, it is very memory intensive at this stage of development)

Thoughts// Both Everyscape and Photosynth offer very interesting possibilities of showing a certain location, the Grand Canyon for example, to a potential traveler...further enticing them to travel to the location.

Widgets Reach Wide Swath of Web Users

As ComScore today announces it will begin measuring one more online channel, widgets, it's worth noting just a year ago few had even heard of the term. Now consider that ComScore Exec VP Linda Boland Abraham was so astounded by the technology's reach she had to borrow a co-worker's reading glasses when she saw the numbers the company had run on widgets.

"I thought, 'This can't be right,'" she said. "I was extremely surprised, even as somebody who tracks the web. We had no way of anticipating until we took a worldwide view of it." >>Full Story

Thoughts// Another article, this one from Advertising Age, discussing the rise in popularity of widgets. The highlight from this article in the announcement that comScore will begin tracking the use of widgets and widget creation sites.

70 Percent of U.S. Web Users Streamed Video in March

comScore released its comScore Video Metrix rankings for March 2007, showing Google Sites as the top U.S. streaming video property with 57.4 million unique people streaming ("streamers") and 1.2 billion video streams initiated. drove the lion's share of the video streaming activity at the Google Sites property with 53.5 million unique streamers and 1.1 billion streams initiated.

In March, Americans consumed more than 7 billion video streams online, led by Google Sites with 1.2 billion. Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 434 million streams, followed by Fox Interactive with 421 million and Viacom Digital with 260 million. >>Full Story

Other notable findings from March 2007 include:

Five out of every seven U.S. Internet users (71.4 percent) streamed video online.

Three out of every ten (30.1 percent) of U.S. Internet users streamed video on

The average online video viewer consumed 55 video streams, or nearly two per day, during the month.

• Online viewers watched an average of 145 minutes of online video in March 2007.

Thoughts// It is becoming increasing apparent that the online public has crossed the threshold for online video consumption. Slow internet connections, out-dated browsers and the public's unfamiliarity with online video would appear to be less of an issue than in previous years.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Social Content Influences, But Does Not Drive Participation

Interesting numbers from a recent study from iProspect and JupiterResearch (based on a poll of 2,223 respondents in January):

One in three Internet users report their purchase decisions are influenced by sites with social content; with being the most influential.

• Search engines get more visitors than social networking sites. Forty percent of adults surveyed visit Yahoo! on a daily basis versus 12% for MySpace.

• YouTube appears to skew male. Twenty-eight percent of men visit the site at least once a month compared to 12% for women.

• The younger the user, the more likely they are to visit and interact with a social networking site. Sixty-eight percent of 18-24-year-olds surveyed visited MySpace over the past month versus 65% for YouTube and 42% for Facebook.

• Up to 90% of visitors to social networking sites don't post content on the site.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Word of the Week - Widgets

A widget is a term that can be used to describe two different applications: a web widget and a widget engine.

A web widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page. Popular examples of this type of widget are promotional movie photo galleries that could be incorporated into your MySpace page or blog.

For example, here is the NBA Finals scoreboard widget, taken from the NBA site and updated daily from the NBA:

In computer software, a widget engine is host software system for physically inspired applets on the desktop (also known as desktop widgets). Two commonly referred-to types of widgets are the Yahoo! Widgets and the Dashboard widgets of Apple Macintosh computer users. Widgets, in this case, are downloadable interactive virtual tools that provide services such as showing the user the latest news, the current weather, a dictionary, a map program, sticky notes, or even a language translator, among other things.

Travel Trends - Tvtrip, TripUp

Tvtrip - Another video hotel guide from Europe, this venture, called Tvtrip (not to be confused with Trivop), is lead by former managers from Expedia Europe. Currently only available with limited hotels in London, Brussles, Paris, and Berlin (because of the huge overhead involved), Tvtrip listings include maps, ratings, pricing and videos touring the hotel’s different classes of rooms, amenities, and exterior compiled by their teams of videographers.

TripUp - TripUp is a social networking travel community. Think of it as MySpace meets meets TripAdvisor. Find trip buddies in the city you are traveling to, make friends, connections, get tips or even find someone to travel with.

Orbitz Launches New Desktop Application

Continuing its customer commitment to innovate with technology that keeps travelers "A Step Ahead," Orbitz today announced the launch of a new desktop application -- Orbitz Insider Deals. This intuitive and convenient downloadable program enables customers to access special offer "insider" deals, customized travel tools, and the very latest travel information that will give them an edge in the fast-changing travel space. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Similar to the very popular 'Ding' widget from Southwest, the new Orbitz Insider Deals widget or desktop application will put travel information, fares and the latest news directly into a user's desktop...rather than having to visit, you can simply check your desktop. Not too mention it also puts the Orbitz brand directly in front of the users who download the new application.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Bugaboo Daytrips, Walking Guides for Major Cities

It isn't so surprising then that Bugaboo International has enlisted its agency 72andSunny to execute an online initiative that targets the tikes and parents while stressing contemporary art and culture on a global scale.

With the web portion of the Bugaboo Daytrips promotion, parents can select from 22 different major cities spanning Europe, Australia and North America. Each city is dotted on a rather peculiar map that seems both bubbly and pixelated, a choice aesthetic considering the demographic. But by clicking on any one of the cities, the user is presented with a tailor-made microsite that is essentially a virtual walking tour. Each downloadable tour offers a handful of familiar and not-so-familiar destinations (with pictures included) specific to each city that would be ideal and unique for you and your little ones.

Thoughts// A creative and enjoyable site from Bugaboo, even though some of the maps are not easily navigated. However, the idea behind the site is a very subtle way of product promotion without being too overwhelming. By providing different walking trips and highlighting various artists, the site begins to provide intriguing content and useful (if not desirable) information.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Word of the Week - Facebook

Facebook is a social networking website. It was originally developed for college and university students but has since been made available to anyone with an email address. People can select to join one or more participating networks, such as a high school, place of employment, or geographic region.

As of February 2007, the website had the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites with over 25 million members worldwide (also from non-collegiate networks).

The name of the site refers to the paper facebooks that colleges and preparatory schools give to incoming students, faculty, and staff depicting members of the campus community.

Facebook Polls Launches: Marketing Research Paradise

Facebook has created an easy way for it's users to get quick answers to questions through it's new polling feature. Facebook Polls allows you to ask detailed questions, target them to specific user segments and receive real-time responses. Facebook users can be targeted based on gender, age, school, location, or profile keyword. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Facebook has been steadily gaining popularity and a more refined user-base over the past 12 months, both of which lend themselves to a more reliable cross-section of members. The new polls feature (learn more here) could prove to be an intriguing look at market research with this group of early adopters.

Web, computer "widgets" offer branding opportunities

Pop quiz: What technology is on the cusp of changing the face of Internet advertising as we know it?

Answer: Widgets.

Simply put, widgets are mini-applications that offer easy access to Internet-based content and information. What makes them special is that they do so without requiring users to visit a specific Web site. >>Full Story

Thoughts// An excellent article on the growing widget trend. The line 'Desktop widgets are downloadable tools that provide access to information, content or services without requiring one to launch a Web browser.' is a near perfect definition. As the article alludes to, the trick is creating a widget that provides valuable content to your users...and a valuable branding / advertising opportunity for the marketer.

Dunkin' Donuts Launches Trip Planning Site

Dunkin' Donuts launched a trip planning site Monday that lets travelers pinpoint and find directions to Dunkin' Donuts locations nationwide. Created in conjnction with Mapquest, the site called, also offers instant win chances at gas cards, GPS systems and tickets on JetBlue. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A very short story, but an interesting site from Dunkin Donuts (see it here). The mapping technology is from MapQuest, which is very simliar to the Google Mapping technology we are currently evaluating. Overall the site is well-thought out (but a little busy) and does have a limited UGC offering. But, it does have Rachael Ray.