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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Random Thoughts: Connectivity and Information

While writing a strategy document a few weeks ago, I included this line discussing the connectivity and information available to the traveling public (and really, this would apply for all information):

In the entire history of man, there has never been more travel information available, in more places and in more forms, to consumers than there is at this very moment.
A little over the top? Sure. But it is completely true.

Bloggers? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Bloggers!

Target to the blogosphere: you’re irrelevant. That was the message the cheap-chic retailer seemed to convey in an abrupt e-mail message to, a blog about the impact of marketing on children. Early this month, the blog’s founder, Amy Jussel, called Target, complaining about a new advertising campaign that depicted a woman splayed across a big target pattern — the retailer’s emblem — with the bull’s-eye at her crotch.

“Targeting crotches with a bull’s-eye is not the message we should be putting out there,” she said in an e-mail interview. Target offered an e-mail response: “Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth. >>Full Story

Author's Note: Not travel related but very relevant.

Thoughts// While this story is not as egregious as the infamous Wal-Mart "flog" (If you're not familiar with it, read about it here), it is nevertheless one that leaves you very confused. For all the buzz about the "conversation economy" and engagement with your audience, Target is apparently not currently using new media (at least blogs) to reach out to consumers.

I concede that monitoring the blogosphere—not completely unlike traditional media monitoring—can be exhaustive, time consuming and unpredictable due to the the difficulty in gauging the
honesty, integrity and accuracy of a particular blogger. However the blogosphere is a microcosm of the real world; what people say about you and your products matter; this is all the more important when the person doing the talking (or blogger) is reputable. Not acknowledging, monitoring or participating in a medium that is a real time pulse of consumers is puzzling indeed.

Or perhaps we all have it wrong. Maybe Target does see the value of new media and is using the question from ShapingYouth to spark a firestorm of conversation in the blogs about the brand? Now that would be turning a challenge into an opportunity!

Curious about how Arizona and Oregon monitors online conversations? Read the two part blog, "Tracking Your Social Media & Blogosphere Presence" from the Trend Report in November.

Editor's Note: We could not resist adding a photo from the 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.' For more, read the history of the 'stinking badges' line on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Word of the Week - Google PageRank

Google PageRank is an algorithm used by Google to determine the weight of a set of linked (or hyperlinked) web pages. It is one of the (assumed to be) primary pieces of the larger Google Search algorithm which determines order of appearance in a keyword search.

A larger number of quality links from high PageRank sites will increase your PageRank.

Of course, that is the condensed version, for a complete and technical explanation of PageRank, I would recommend the PageRank article on Wikipedia.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Travel Trends - Everywhere Magazine

Everywhere Magazine - I have been waiting patiently to write a post about the new travel magazine 'Everywhere' until my first (trial) issued arrived, and guess what showed up in my mailbox yesterday?

Everywhere, from 8020 Publishing (who also publish JPG), takes online user-submitted content and packages it in a 'beautiful printed magazine that is distributed internationally.' A bit of a process reversal, but still an intriguing concept. As far as the magazine itself, it is put together very well with a professional yet 'hip' feeling about it (ugh, I can't believe I said 'hip'). The articles and columns are interesting and certainly not what you would expect in a typical 'send everyone to Paris' travel magazine. Plus, an impressive lineup of advertisers (not sure of the commitment) give the publication some instant credibility. I would encourage you to visit the site, take a look around and order a trial issue.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of Everywhere, could this be a new trend in print publishing or just a flash in the pan? And, from a DMO perspective, if this is a larger trend should we begin thinking about how we can incorporate user-generate content in our printed pieces as well as our websites?

Ah, more questions. And more reasons to keep reading the Travel 2.0 blog.

Spherical Storytelling

What if you can bring the magic of skiing down Mt. Hood or hiking down the Grand Canyon to life using "three dimensional" video technology where the user can not only get just the linear view but also take in the complete surrounding environment?

With "immersive video" technology you now can. Check out the video below that follows a whale watching expedition. Don't just view on the arrows and use it to look around the boat.

This technology powers Google's Street View and the hardware and software are powered by Portland based "Immersive Media Company". For a few technical details on how it all works view this video on their website. For another look at how this can enhance the web video experience, below is another video sample from folks testing it around at our agency.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More FREE Ways to Track Your Web Presence

Due to the popularity of our post last week, 'Easy and FREE Ways to Track Your Online Presence...Plus, See What California is Up To', I thought we would mention a couple other online tools that can help you track and understand you presence on the web.

Not to mention kill off a few hours at work obsessing over your Google Page Rank.

Google Trends: Speaking of which, Google Trends is a good (and fascinating) look at trends relating to keyword searches via Google. For example, you can enter two keywords...such as 'ski resorts' and 'cruises'...and be presented with a graphical representation of the number of searches for those words. See the chart above. Of course, very granular or specific keywords might not show any results, but it is an interesting way to determine search volume, on a timeline, from a high level.

Microsoft adCenter Labs: Ah, probably my favorite, not to mention the (at times) most confusing, free stats / SEO tool out there. While Microsoft commonly gets overlooked by Google and Yahoo! in the ad sales space, the adCenter Labs offering is a great look into some of the data available from search engines (not to mention a scary look into how much Microsoft and Google know about your search patterns). Stats available include basic information such as Ad Text Writer, which automatically generate text ads for an input URL, and Keyword Group Detection. However, if you have a computer science degree from Oxford (or a lot of free time) you can investigate topics such as 'Entity Association Graph' and 'Context-Based Acronym Resolution.' In all seriousness, adCenter Labs is another great free tool.

Quintura: Our final example is the 'visual search engine' Quintura, which displays your results as well as a related keyword cloud. The cloud results provide an interesting (and slightly addictive) view of your key search terms as well as some insight into other keywords that you might have been unaware of.

Quick Case Study: When Life Hands You Lemons...

Like many of you, Travel Oregon publishes a monthly e-newsletter to keep Oregon "top-of-mind" and build a long term relationship with consumers. We were especially proud of our January issue which was chock full of fabulous getaway/fitness ideas and special events. The edition with the subject line of "Happy New Year from Oregon" was scheduled to go out the week of January 7th.

After the usual "pre-flight" preparations with the editorial team on spelling, punctuation, voice and all that good stuff the edition was ready to go. So imagine my horror when we noticed that the first batch of 40,000 e-newsletters went out the subject line "Step into Spring!"

Upon investigating, we discovered that a "snafu" in the send process resulted in the first batch of consumers getting our April 2007 edition! Yes, 40,000 people received a "spring" message in January when the snow was pilling high on our mountains! If there was ever a moment where I wished I was in one of those "wanna get away" Southwest commercials, this was most definitely it.

Thoughts// One of the core values of marketing that Troy and I have repeatedly talked/written about is "honesty" and "transparency". In an age when brands can be elevated or torn down in an instant by the community, being authentic and true about yourself and your products is the only guaranteed recipe for long term success. So we embraced our mistake and made lemonade; we issued an immediate apology while poking fun at our woeful selves with an irreverent message that read:

"Happy New Year! It's 2008, right? Yeah, we thought so…

While we were getting ready to send you the very latest from Oregon this January – 2008 – it seems "spring fever" hit us early and we mistakenly sent you April's edition – 2007 – instead. Call us sentimental. We love April. Really. No slight to January, of course. We like January in Oregon too. And November. And, well, July is GREAT. But April… oh that April… we're very fond of April.

But, we think you should really get to know Oregon in January… cool, snowy, fluffy, festive, … January rocks in Oregon! So watch your email box for our exciting adventures to be had in January… January 2008. Yes, 2008. With snow levels above normal and Oregon's mountains covered with snowy adventure, it's definitely not spring in Oregon. Is it? No. We're pretty sure it's not.

Anyway, sorry for the mix up… you can come back in April if you like. Did we mention we like April? Have a wonderful 2008… get out and enjoy the snow!

The Editors"

The price of transparency? LOVE (or sweet lemonade). We actually got more positive feedback on the apology than response to the original "April" email or the typical monthly e-newsletter! Here is a sampling....

  • That was, by far, the most entertaining e-mail slip-up apology ever. Well, maybe not as bad as the time I tried to weasel out of insulting my father-in-law by way of the "reply" button instead of "forward", but... bravo. :) - Cara S.
  • Too cute. Loved the email! - Bonnie & Dan H.
  • Very cute! I LOVE everything you do no matter what the month or year. Even the mistakes. Did you know you’re even more lovable when you can admit your mistakes and laugh at them? I love a great sense of humor! You made me smile. I’ll be with you every month and year in Oregon. - Lori P-H.
  • I love an organization where people have a sense of humor and don't take themselves too seriously. We are all human! And don't worry, I won't cancel my (free) email subscription! :)- aerosmithchik

To be fair, we did have one really negative comment and had a few folks who unsubscribed. But the overall responses was so positive and supportive that we were absolutely blown away.

Lessons learned? 1) Embrace mistakes faster; 2) Keep sending wrong e-mail editions to keep 'em guessing (just kidding!)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Easy and FREE Ways to Track Your Online Presence...Plus, See What California is Up To

Like a lot of you, the Arizona Office of Tourism uses quite a few web statistics / analytics tools to track web presence. Some are free, such as Google Analytics, and others are fee-based, such as WebTrends or Omniture. But aside from those major players, there are a few other free tools available to track not only your online presence, but the presence of your competitors.

Oh, and did I mention they are free?

(Note: Like most things free, there is usually a fee model with some of these services. The fee model just includes more features, if you want them)

Let's review:

Alexa: The most well-known of the 'open (free) internet ratings services,' Alexa was created in 1996 and then purchased by in 1999. Basically, the service gathers data from users who have the Alexa toolbar installed in there browser and then generates reports based on that data. While there has been a lot of debate about the accuracy of the Alexa user base as a reliable representation of internet users, the service does offer some in-depth statistics and comparative tools. A relatively new internet rating service, gathers information from 'a diverse sample of 2,000,000+ U.S. internet users' who have allowed to 'analyze the web pages they visit and ask them questions via surveys.' The site allows you to compare two websites against each other for a competitive view of visitors, 'engagement' and growth. See the Troy (blue) vs. Mo (red) graph pictured above.

Quantcast: Another new service, this one directed at advertisers, quantcast offers the opportunity to view audience reports for perspective sites. While it does offer similar statistical data, quantcast also attempts to put a demographic overview on the data.

For instance, reaches:
a very slightly female biased, primarily older group.The typical visitor stays at Choice Hotels, uses Frommers, and reads

Or, reaches:
a very slightly female biased group.The typical visitor rents cars from Budget, uses Yahoo! Travel, and sails on Norwegian Cruises.

Probably not 100% accurate, but interesting none the less. And to sum it all up, you can use This 'check at-a-glance' tool allows you to view data about your site such as Google PageRank, Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, Google BackLinks, Technorati Links, Bookmarks, amongst others. A good tool for a quick look at your web presence.

Again, most of these services are not reporting 100% accurate information. Assumptions are made, audiences are not exact. But, if you are looking for some additional statistics or analytics about your site, I would suggest you give one of these products a try.

After all, they are free!

Random Thoughts: Time Spent

For the last few months Mo and I have been pushing the concept of engagement rather than numbers when it comes to website statistics / analytics. One of the main pieces of that engagement puzzle has been time spent. In talking with some peers over the past few days I noticed that most viewed time spent on page as a good thing. However, I wonder what the other site of that argument is...if someone is spending a substantial amount of time on a page does that mean they cannot find what they are looking for?

Is more time spent always a positive (good) metric, or can it be a indication of an issue with the site?

Has anyone encountered this issue? Thoughts?

Who is Producing the Best Online Ads Right Now? That Would be Apple.

More online spots from the fine folks at Apple...or in this case, TBWA and its Media Arts Lab.

Thoughts// While there are certainly numerous well-conceived and executed online ads in use today, some of the best are coming from Apple (in fact, I am sure some would argue that the entire campaign is one of the best out there). Regardless of what you may think about the Mac vs. PC debate, Apple's use of the online medium, and specifically the New York Times website, is close to perfection. As with the other Apple spot we featured on the Travel 2.0: Interactive Trend Report, this execution uses the advertising space on to create an intriguing placement. Not to mention using a newspaper quote in the ad, on a newspaper site, to make it blend in seamlessly. What a concept! Integration! (sarcasm intended)

Now did everyone who visited that day view or click the ad? No, of course not. But, I am willing to bet that this ad had a much larger brand impact than most.

(click the 'play' button above to view the ad)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Quick Case Study: Email Appearance

For those of you sending emails...which I would imagine is most of you...make sure you take the time to test the appearance of your email messages in a variety of browsers and ISPs prior to sending the message.

For instance, take a look at the example I received today from South Carolina.

Here is what the email looked like when I viewed it in Outlook (via the Reading Pane option):

Not that appealing.

As you can see, Microsoft Outlook (which we all know is just trying to protect me from people like that guy in Africa with the $5 million dollars) has decided to block all of the images within the email. Which, in this case (due to the HTML coding) makes the email nearly impossible to decipher.

At this point, I think you can safely assume that most users reach for the delete key.

Here is how the email is suppose to look:

Ah, that is better. And a pretty good looking email, too.

Now, I should not pick on South Carolina too much for this mistake, because I know (like many of you as well) I am guilty of the same error.

However, with the amount of advertising clutter the average traveler wades through each day, you need to ensure that they can quickly recognize your message.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We Need You

Here at Travel 2.0: Interactive Trend Report we don't usually ask for that much...just your undivided attention when our posts arrive via email or RSS...not too much to ask. However, we do need your help to promote the blog as we begin 2008.

Don't get us wrong, the growth and conversation stemming from this blog has been nothing short of amazing, with nearly 100 daily subscribers, not to mention becoming a good resource for the travel industry. But to continue reaching people in our industry and in-turn creating a larger and more beneficial conversation, we need your help.

We ask you to take a moment and forward this blog to any contacts, partners or peers that might find the posts, conversations or topics as beneficial as you do.

We will even make it easy for you. Simply copy, paste and send the email below.

Hi 'insert name',

You really need to take a look at this blog I discovered.

They cover the latest news and trends from the worlds of interactive / online media and travel.

It really helps me stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Plus, if I hear you say the word 'out-of-the-box, Web 2.0 synergy' one more time, I might scream.

Anywho, happy reading.

'insert your name'

There you are all set. (your welcome.)

On a serious note, thank you to everyone who reads, contributes and supports Travel 2.0: Interactive Trend Report. Myself and Mo truly appreciate it.

(And in case you are wondering, yes the picture above does bear a striking resemblance to Mo...of course, without the top hat.)

Re-Post: My 5 New Year's Interactive Resolutions

Perhaps some of you had too much of that $10 Korbel Champagne Brut or a little too many glasses of eggnog (we are not here to judge), either way we will give you another chance to add your comments to the 'My 5 New Year's Interactive Resolutions' post.

It's pretty simple, just tell us your top 5 interactive / travel related goals for 2008. What do you want to accomplish next year? What are you planning? Let's see how many of us are planning similar projects in the new year.

Don't have any goals? Then what are your 5 wish-list goals? What do you really want to try this year? Facebook? Google? Widgets? RSS?

To get you started here are the 5 goal from the Arizona Office of Tourism and Travel Oregon.

The Arizona Office of Tourism's Top 5 New Year's Interactive Resolutions:

5. Expand our relationship with customers via a comprehensive email program.
4. Start a consumer blog on
3. Add a substantial amount of Arizona-related content, including video, to the site.
2. Enhance our advertising methods to accurately communicate with our target consumer.
1. Determine a clear picture of our ROI with display (banner) advertising.

Travel Oregon's Top 5 New Year's Interactive Resolutions:

5. Enhance user experience and build on current Food/Drink and Outdoor content
4. Create more evangelists for Oregon through interaction on social sites and via GoSeeOregon
3. Expand our e-newsletter create customized interest based editions
2. Finalize a set of common metrics to judge all online campaigns
1. Deploy Oregon's new "partner collaboration" platform ("orb") - a repository of all tourism data (outside our CMS) and a place where partners can edit/upd]ate their info; this will also be the central clearing house for tourism API's and feeds

Post your list in the comments field. Best list wins a $10 Korbel Champagne Brut...if we have any left.

Random Thoughts: Website Redevelopment

Over the last several months I have been to a few online / interactive conferences, including the HSMAI Travel Internet Marketing Strategy Conference and the Madden Media eTourism Executive Preview. Both of which were fine conferences with some very good speakers and attendees (summaries of the conferences will be a separate post). But as I was sitting in the audience listening to the presentations I had a thought.

Any salesperson, vendor, presenter can convince you that your website design / layout / technique is wrong, but only your consumers can tell you if it is right.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Travel Trends - Mobile, Email

ESPN Sees Huge Growth From Mobile Site - Some intriguing stats from sports-industry giant ESPN on the use of mobile internet. According to reports, the NFL section of received 4.5 million visits over a 24-hour period, while during the same period the mobile version of the same section received 4.9 million visits. As mentioned in the article the sports, news, email and weather categories are intuitive resources for mobile phone users, however the fact that this threshold has been crossed in still quite astounding. (re-post by RCR Wireless News)

2007 Consumer Email Snapshot - Great stats from EmailLabs / Jupiter Research on consumer email usage in 2007.

Email statistics presented by JupiterResearch vice president David Daniels, at the Email Insider Summit in Park City, Utah, Dec. 2007:

How Do Online Consumers Spend Their Time?

87%: Read email
70%: Search for information
64%: Do search
60%: Shop
37%: Use instant messaging

Email Usage

274: Average number of personal emails weekly
304 : Average number of business emails weekly
26%: Opt-in email campaigns as percentage of total inbox email
74% : Email users with 2 email accounts
18%: Email users who use mobile devices to sort email

Unsubscribing Behavior

53%: Say email is irrelevant
40%: Say email comes too often
26%: Unsubscribe using spam button

Why Facebook Will and Will Not Work For the Travel Industry - Part 1

Over the last few weeks I have been involved in several conversations about facebook and how marketers, specifically destination marketing organizations, can tap into this seemingly endless pot of consumer gold. First, during the Benson workshop which was part of my 'How to Create an Interactive Marketing Plan' series offered by the Arizona Office of Tourism. (Which, by the way, was a great experience) Then again by Mo, who had been approached by someone who was using facebook as a marketing tool, but going about it in the wrong way. Or at least we thought so.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with facebook or MySpace, read our 'Word of the Week' post on facebook.

Thoughts// What a perfect subject as we head into 2008, because there was no bigger buzz or buzzword than 'facebook' in 2007. It was everywhere, growing at an astronomical rate, and everyone, including your grandmother seemed to be on facebook. And in came the marketers. If there are 60 million people in one spot online, you can be sure that we marketers are going to figure out a way to get in front of them. Which starts our conversation, how should you use facebook as a marketing tool?

Basically, there are two options...(1) buy traditional banner (display) ads or some form of sponsorship on facebook or (2) set up a profile or group for your product and be 'friends' with everyone. Let's talk about option #2, the method that everyone seems to be trying.

Anyone and any organization can set up a profile on facebook for free. Which is exactly the problem. Just because it is free and available does not mean you have to use it. Here is the first question to ask yourself before setting up a facebook page: Are people passionate about my product?

All of you saying, 'yes, of course.' Sorry, afraid not. Let's look at some brands/things people are passionate about:

Diet Coke
Southwest Airlines
Key West
Movies / Actors
Music / Bands

Not Passionate:
Best Buy
Minute Maid
General Mills
Most States
Most Cities

You get the idea.

Of course, these are very general statements...there are some people out there who are very, very passionate about Minute Maid Orange Juice. However, when you look at a product like Diet Coke, which people are practically addicted to, you can begin to see a difference in 'passion.'

For example, if you go onto facebook and search for Diet Coke, there are currently 500+ groups who are 'addicted' (in some form or another) to Diet Coke. On the first results page alone there are 10,393 members in 10 groups. 10,000 people who have proclaimed openly they like and want Diet Coke! Compare that to Best Buy, which lists one group...Best Buy Employees...with 2,774. Not a surprise, why would I want to be friends with a giant concrete and steel box (store)?

Same rule applies for Southwest, Disney and Key West. People, and you know some of these people, love these companies/brands. They have whole walls or even rooms filled with Mickey Mouse, little airplanes or conch shells that say 'life's a beach' on them.

Now you could create a new group for these people to join, but if they are already part of another group, why would they want to join your corporate-controlled, PC, don't use any bad words group? Most marketers would probably be more successful in marketing their products to this group of passionate people via traditional ads. Or perhaps giving the members exclusive downloads, wallpapers, etc.

As Mo mentioned while we were speaking about this subject, why would we (as consumers) want to use facebook or MySpace to network directly with brands? Most of us are on these social networking sites to connect with friends or family. Rather than be friends with my Toyota.

While there are some positive results from this type of advertising, unfortunately a lot of brands are trying to force their marketing efforts into the facebook model with limited success (see our post and thoughts on the Sprite Sips facebook effort).

As I have said repeatedly, this theory does not apply to all brands across the board. Each marketing situtation needs to be evaluated separately. However, in the case of social networking sites such as facebook, you need to start the evaluation by determining how many of those 60 million users would be passionate about your brand.

If the answer is not many, you should probably look towards another marketing opportunity.

In part 2 of this post, how the travel industry could use social networking sites as an effective marketing tool.