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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On the Internet, It’s All About ‘My’

IT’S not you, it’s me. Actually, on the Internet, it’s “my.” The Web is awash in sites that begin with that most personal of pronouns, and not simply MySpace. A few quick clicks will connect you to MyCoke, My IBM, My Subaru, MyAOL — even MyClick, a mobile-phone marketing company. Collectively, they amount to a new world of Web sites designed to imply a one-on-one connection with a corporation or large business. >>Full Story

Thoughts// From MyStarbucksIdea to MySpace and My Travel Journal to MyCokeRewards, organizations large and small have increasingly embraced the "my" prefix to connect personally with consumers (or at least imply a personal connection). This interesting article from the Sunday NY Times discusses the proliferation of such sites and its implications. The majority of today’s consumers are actively already personalizing their digital experiences and viewing niche content and interacting with like minded individuals on niche sites. It's no doubt that consumers love personalization...especially if there's something of value to them.


  • Starbucks claims that the responses from 150,000 consumers who've posted results have resulted in "tangible changes" in the stores. See them here.

  • MyCokeRewards is purportedly the “most robust return-investment models” for Coke (don't ask me what that means!).

  • There are more people who're actively using and signing up for our Travel Journal each month than are signing up to receive our monthly e-mail newletter.

But don't just provide content under a "my" as a thinly veiled attempt to appear to be authentic...personalization and community should be integrated to reflect a real desire to empower consumers and listen to the good, the bad and the ugly about your product or destination.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Great Travel Site Showdown Returns with Groups 6, 7 & 8

You have one unscheduled ER visit for a quick appendectomy or, as I am thinking about it, my new diet, and the entire Travel Site Showdown quickly gets out of hand.

No worries on the ER visit, everything went well.

Anyway, onto to the showdown.

In Group 4, Florida outlasted Tennessee by a slim margin...recounts are still what was a true, two-state showdown for the group. A huge performance by both states, which sets the vote tally bar pretty high. However, don't overlook Delaware and Maryland, two states who were lost in the shuffle of this group, but who have pretty solid sites.

Group 5 produced what many would consider our first upset of the showdown as Iowa beat Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania. Nice showing Iowa.

Since we have fallen a bit behind, we will start voting for Groups 6, 7 & 8 today, with voting concluding next Tuesday.

Group 6
21. Vermont
22. South Carolina
23. Georgia
24. Michigan

Group 7
25. Utah
26. Oklahoma
27. Kentucky
28. Montana

Group 8
29. Indiana
30. Arkansas
31. Kansas
32. Ohio

Good luck all.

E-Mail Marketing Still Works

E-Mail marketing still works...but consumer standards of relevance are high. First, the good news: permission-based e-mail is great at getting consumers to buy. Half of US adult e-mail users surveyed in April 2008 for Merkle's "View from the Inbox" study, conducted with Harris Interactive, said they had made an online purchase in the previous year as a result of permission-based marketing. In addition, e-mail was second only to customer reviews on Web sites for influencing online purchases...and e-mail was roughly equal to search results in terms of influencing online purchases. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Sometimes a little reinforcement is a good thing. This new Harris Interactive study is really no surprise. In fact, we've written about e-mail's adaptability and our addition to it before. Despite the proliferation of social networking, IM and texting, e-mail remains an integral part of our daily communication routine and doesn't appear to be a dying breed. In fact, feeds via e-mail (and not direct to reader) happens to be how the majority of you subscribe to this blog! But consumers expect some respect from marketers. Consider: Some noteworthy insights from the study:

  • About one-third of respondents in the study said they "had stopped doing business with at least one company" as a result of poor e-mail marketing practices

  • 53% of e-mail users said that they were only willing to get marketing or promotional messages e-mails if the offers were relevant to them

Another noteworthy story from this survey is the fact that online ads (atleast sales related ones) perform poorly —almost universally—across all age groups. It will certainly be interesting to see how these trends transform over time as the "MySpace Generation" starts to mature.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day Post Update: Virginia Is Green.

Virginia tourism officials are promoting environmentally friendly attractions with a new website, The site is a guidepost to "certified green" tourism businesses, such as lodging facilities, parks and other attractions. The site also has links to outdoor adventure programs, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, eco-friendly events and travel tips. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Dave Neudeck, Virginia Tourism's "digital magician" just e-mailed me an update on our Earth Day post...Virginia just didn't have a eco-tourism e-mail special, but additionally, they just launched a fully blown "green tourism" microsite! Dave says:

"We launched last Friday at a press conference in Virginia Beach. Very simple site that brings all the green certified travel sites, lodging establishments and eco-friendly events into one place. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality handles the certification and provides us with weekly updates as new properties are certified."

Congrats to Dave and his team for a simple but an impactful way to highlight tourism industry partners that have taken meaningful and authentic steps towards sustainability.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! From booking "car free" vacations to carbon offsetting and staying at eco-friendly accommodations to only eating local foods and imbibing organic beer and wine, travelers are increasingly taking their green lifestyle on vacation. Sustainability and environmental stewardship are core values of both the Arizona and Oregon tourism offices and we're both working on a number of stewardship programs—geo-tourism, voluntourism, carbon calculators, electronic downloads—to preserve the unique sense of place of our respective states.

In honor of Earth Day, we want to showcase just a few ways how the travel industry is helping consumers grapple with the issue of climate change and sustainable living.

Just Go Travel Guides - Guidebooks are a staple of well heeled travelers. But do you really have to buy an entire guide book just to browse a few pages? Enter Just Go Travel Guides! Just Go Guides are personal, customizable guides put together by a team of international writers, editors, and travelers. The guides are available in PDF format, and are downloadable to your iPod or mobile device for free.

The best part of this is the interactivity and personalization. Consumers can enter the date of their visit and then pick relevant information (lodging, events, restaurant etc) via their website. Once the site confirms you’re a real person (via text message), the guide is produced and then sent to you. Extending the experience is the fact that once you’re on your way, you can use the interactive guide to rate the places on your guide, contributing to the “collective intelligence” of the guides.

Eco-Travel Planners - Both New Zealand and Minnesota have undertaken an interesting approach to highlight places of cultural and natural heritage.

  • New Zealand’s Organic Explorer, offers up eco-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and excursions throughout New Zealand. In addition, the site also features local markets and orchards where you pick up fresh local produce.

  • Minnesota’s Green Routes, a private/public partnership site, helps consumers “discover places to eat where the food is not only fresh from a family farm, but where you might bump into the farmers who grew it…and places to have fun while helping to ensure that our natural and cultural resources will be around for many generations to come.”

    The easy to use Google Map driven site interface allows consumers to actually plot their route through the state and find out a list of things to do along that route. For example, if you’re heading from Brainerd to Fargo, sip fair trade coffee at Village Emporium and be sure to shop at the Lakes Area Farmer’s Market.

Kudos also goes in this category to Dave Neudeck and his team at Virginia who featured eco-friendly events, “no car” getaways and outdoor getaways in their “green” May e-newsletter.

Of course any article on sustainable travel would not be complete without mentioning Kimpton Hotel's inspirational EarthCare program. Troy and I had the honor of watching Steve Pinetti's presentation at the recent Oregon Governor's conference and we were absolutely astounded by the depth to which sustainability has been incorporated into all of the properties....all the way from in-room recycling and organic foods to earth friendly cleaning products and the interior decoration (see a full list here).

As marketers, and more importantly as inhabitants of this planet, it's our responsibility to take a leadership role in ensuring that travel and tourism does not come at the expense of the planet. To that end, sustainability and stewardship should not be addressed as a "trend" or a "niche product" but a core value that's ingrained into every fabric of your organization.

To that end, we're are you (personally or as an organization) embracing this into your lives?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Random Thoughts: “Can You Build a Website?”

If you serve in the Interactive/digital department, you’ve invariably—to the chagrin of your very talented IT team—been referred to as the “IT team” or been relegated to the role of “website designers”. Indeed “interactivity” itself is often reduced sometimes to a discussion of tools instead of a strategy.

But it’s easy to see how this misperception started.

  1. Back in the “wild west” days of 1990’s the guy or gal who “got” the digital medium was also the person who set up your network and made sure that your Outlook Contacts were synched up with your “PalmPilot” or that nifty “Handspring”.

  2. And yes it is also true…the skill set for interactive does include a broad swath of “geekdom” such as analytics, search strategy, UI/IA, server-side technologists, coders etc.

But least one forgets, “interactive” is also an art form. A recent Creativity article by Renny Gleeson, Digital Strategist at W+K, makes a profound argument that the interactive medium has reopened the door for “collaborative storytelling”. Shakespeare plays were meant to be “interactive” with active audience participation; ancient folklores such as the Iliad, Gilgamesh, The Odyssey were “collaborative experiences” that were passed through generations orally.

Marketing and brand communications need storytellers and their stories. We inform, educate and create cultures based on stories. We define ourselves through their telling and their interpretations. A story is realized through the act of the storytelling. Of engagement with an audience. A great story, unread isn't. The interactive medium by its nature invites people into the process—suggesting, collaborating, amplifying, advocating and diffusing. And there will always be good and bad storytellers. The best of them move us, inspire us, change us, drive social change, and sometimes—yes, sometimes—sell us something.

In advertising, when we are at our best, we build a message around a fundamental human truth, we engage the heart, and we tell compelling stories that create meaning for brands awash in a rising quagmire of white noise. And yes, we sell stuff.

As my friend Stephen Landau says, when we think about “digital brand strategy”, it’s not thinking, “let’s build a web site.” At the heart of it all, it’s about building a relationship with people. It’s about creating an emotional experience with consumers through storytelling and through their interaction with your brand via whatever tool that makes sense.

Just be sure to have the IT team on board when you're building the tool. ;)

Update: a colleague just pointed out that our friend Troy is indeed "an artist by trade". See I wasn't kidding!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

State of the Industry Conversations

This week, we have our first guest question for our Conversations series. I am sure this is a common question in offices and conference rooms across numerous states.

We will open the question up to our readers first, then thoughts from myself and Mo.

State of the Industry Conversations
Bringing the Travel Industry together…one question at a time


We have been experimenting and optimizing our online campaigns, but are repeatedly disappointed in the click through rates (.01% to .5%) and conversions coming from our banner advertising. We have a tested several strong CTA’s such as vacation give-aways, free gas, and great price points. We have tried behavioral targeting, content targeting, and run of network on travel research sites. We have utilized ad networks and purchased direct from the publisher. Are our expectations too high, or have others found the secret to successful banner ads when promoting travel to their State?


Post your answer in the comments field below or via the Answers section of LinkedIn.

Note: You do not have to be a member of Blogger to post a comment to the Travel 2.0 blog. Anonymous comments are allowed, however we would appreciate if you signed the comment with your name.

The Great Travel Site Showdown - Group 5

On to Group 5. Could we see our first upset of the Showdown in Group 5?

Group 5
17. Pennsylvania
18. Mississippi
19. Iowa
20. Puerto Rico

Voting is available on the Travel 2.0 blog and open until Saturday.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Virginia Takes Group 2, Hawaii Wins Group 3 and Group 4 Voting Opens (a little late)

Well, Group 2 was quite a battle. Back and forth for the first few days, the lovers of Virginia finally overtook Oregon in the final tally. A true heavyweight fight. And I think it is safe to say we will probably see more of Oregon in Round 2 as one of our second-place finishers.

In Group 3, Hawaii quietly beat out Alabama and New Jersey.

Finally, voting for Group 4 is officially open. Another potentially huge match-up, Florida and Tennessee look to be the early favorites...of course, I am sure there is no way Visit Florida or the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development could get close to the vote total we saw from Oregon and Virginia. And don't count out Delaware, a small state with a big website.

Prove me wrong Group 4.

Group 4 (Group of Death)
13. Tennessee
14. Florida
15. Delaware
16. Maryland

Voting is available on the Travel 2.0 blog and open until Friday.

Remember to tell us why you voted in the comments section.

Usability is Worth Rappin' About....

How do you improve the usability and customer experience of your site? Forget attending conferences or reading blogs. Just check out this awesome usability rap video! Enjoy.

And if you're craving more, check out m0serious' take on Paid Search and Link Building.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Do Web Users Scroll?

We’ve all heard it: “Web users don’t scroll.” But through our analytics work, our team has found very little actual data to support that common web myth. In fact, one of our biggest clients knows that users can be motivated to scroll down even the longest page (89% of users scrolled a long story page, and fully 60% saw 90% of the page). >>Full Story

Thoughts// An interesting blog post from Avenue A's Digital Design Blog about the age old question on whether web users scroll or not. A recent analysis of user behavior on both e-commerce sites and publisher sites provided some insights into this question. Among the findings:

  • On average more than two-thirds of users on these pages scroll

  • Nearly 75% of these users scroll before they do anything else on the page

  • How far a user scrolls depends on the site; this research demonstrates that on average, users on publisher pages scroll to view about 40% of a page, while users on product pages scroll to view about 60% of a page.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No TravelCom For You!

As many of you know, neither Mo or I were able to make it to TravelCom this year...however both Travel Oregon and the Arizona Office of Tourism are well represented by Ashley Moran and Casey Ambrose we want to hear about the experience from our readers.

What did you think of the conference?

How many times did you hear the word Web 2.0?

Did you learn anything new?

What did you feel was missing from the conference?

Are you sick of mobile yet?

How was the bar?

Is Chicago really that windy?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments field, we would love to hear from you.

Oh and be sure to tell everyone you see from TIA that you think Honolulu would be the perfect location for TravelCom in '09.

Manifest Destiny…Conquering Oregon via the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism

First and foremost, a very big 'thank you' to my fantastic hosts at Travel Oregon. The staff and associates are a credit to the leadership and hospitality of the industry, which not only resonates within the Travel Oregon team, but the entire travel industry in Oregon.

Let’s get to the recap:

Being a true son of Florida, I love the rain. But, thanks to Todd, the rain held off (at least as far as I could see) until yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Even with the weather being cloudy and cool, it was great. But, I do love cold weather…go figure.

First time to Portland, but alas not enough time to explore the city. However, what I saw was great…Columbia River, green trees (everywhere), the Pearl District, some more green, PDX and more green. A charismatic city and certainly a location for a future, non-business trip.

Between preparing for my own portion of the panel presentation, I was lucky enough to hear several great speakers.

‘New Media Strategist’ Josh Hallett, who also spoke during ESTO in Phoenix, presented a thorough, yet easily digestible discussion on new / interactive media. I enjoy Josh’s presentation style which uses common language (no words over 4 syllables) and actual examples to introduce the audience, as well as provide a solid overview, to the subject of new media.

In addition to myself and Mo, we were fortunate to be joined by Paul Wille on our web analytics panel. After about 30 seconds of speaking with Paul prior to the panel I knew he got it…not to mention agreed with me. Just like Josh, Paul has a clear presentation style that seemed to be well received with our audience. He also cited a social media project with a Hawaiian hotel which would make a great case study for the Travel 2.0 blog. Once he gets a free minute, I will have him pen that post.

Steve Pinetti from Kimpton Hotel Group provided some fascinating insights into the enormous challenge of instituting and maintaining a true sustainable program within the travel industry. While Steve had some great stories, particularly the tale of converting the housekeeping staff to green cleaning products…which took 12 – 15 months and to which the housekeeping staff said, ‘if it does not foam, it is not working’…the largest take-away for me was that adopting a sustainable program for your organization is an endless, but rewarding, process. As Steve said, it is more that simply placing a sign in the break room, it is a complete, life-long, company-wide, vendor-wide, overall commitment to protecting the beauty and resources we promote to consumers.

And with more and more consumers actively searching out these green travel organizations, the importance of adopting an eco-friendly mindset has the very real possibility of being a choice you adopt and embrace or the reason you went out of business.

Speaking of green, Jonathan Tourtellot, Director of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, presented on the topic of geotourism, which seemed to be very well received by the crowd. After the pleasure of enjoying dinner at Andina with Jonathan, I can say first-hand that his knowledge and experience with the natural world (or just the world in general) is impressive.

Finally, the conference concluded with an active presentation from Paul Wesselmann. Usually most conferences end on a quiet note and most people skip the last 1 or 2 presenters, but that was not the case for Paul's presentation. Hard to describe via the written word, but it was thought-provoking, entertaining and funny. If you are looking for a great final act, I would recommend Paul.

Circling back to an interactive topic, a lot of time was spent during our session discussing the meaning of engagement. Several members of the audience asked what numbers should they pay attention to...that certain programs (Omniture) produce too many metrics and they don't know which ones are important...and if they should worry about page views.

As we said during the panel, engagement is different for each organization. Personally, I find it fascinating that someone would ask me what numbers to track. My response would be, what numbers are important to you? Are you booking hotel rooms or giving away maps? Whatever your primary website objective is, that is your primary engagement metric. Now, you can of course add additional metrics to that formula, but it should all center on a few key metrics.

Let's take unique visitors as an example. You receive 10,000 unique visitors a month. Some percentage of those 10,000 are on your site for less than 10 seconds...and the number (bounce rate) is probably higher than you think...but let's say that number is 40%. So, right off the top, 4,000 visitors to your site spent less than 10 seconds there. Unless you have a remarkably brief message, no one is getting any benefit out of your site in 10 seconds. So why would you report to your superiors, peers, counterparts, etc. that you received 10,000 unique visitors...almost half of them did not do anything!

Why would you report that number? Report on a number than actually means sign-ups, brochures ordered, rooms booked, etc, etc.

Now, that is not to say you can ignore a number like visitation, but put it in perspective with some sort of an engagement metric.

Secondly, don't send raw reports from your analytics tool to your staff or superiors. I am sure they are very intelligent people, but they don't have the context or perspective that you do...nor do they care about all those numbers. If you have to send out a monthly report, sit down with your team and discuss which numbers would be most beneficial to see...hopefully an engagement number...and send those. Then, if they want to know the visitation per minute for last month, you can send that to them separately.

New Media:
If you read our Random Thoughts post from earlier in the week you have an idea of how this topic was discussed at the conference, but it is worth repeating.

You do not and should not do everything that is out there!

Just because someone else is doing it, does not mean you should!

Stop launching 'Web 2.0' projects without (A) planning, (B) goals and (C) determining if your audience is right for it!

There, 2 or 3 Web 2.0 conferences summarized in a few sentences.

Final Score:

Great conference, great speakers (including yours truly and Mo, thank you) and a great location. If you are planning a tourism conference in the near future, I would highly recommend any of the speakers we mentioned above (including us!), I am sure they would be a strong addition and provide valuable insight to your constituents.

If you were at the conference, let us know your thoughts and how we did. Always open to more questions and suggestions!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Random Thoughts: Interactive (Web 2.0) Media

Typically, I don't like using the word Web 2.0, but I figured it would be the quickest way to connect you with this post.

While speaking today at the Oregon Governor's Conference on Tourism (a full report in a later post), during both Josh Hallett's presentation and our own panel discussion, a lot of conversation centered around engagement (thank you) and what social / UGC / Web 2.0 projects you should and should not undertake.

Here was the highlight from the talk:

You should not and cannot do everything. There are far too many sites and options for your product that are simply not right for your audience. Just because some other state, restaurant, hotel launches a Facebook app (see post below) does not automatically mean that you should.

Take a step back and figure out which of these new media / interactive opportunities are really worth doing, make sense for your goals and will create a return on your efforts.

The Great Travel Site Showdown - Group 3

After the 'Battle of Columbia' between our friends at Oregon and Virginia (700+ votes and counting), we move onto Group 3, which features more strong contenders for the title, including the islanders from Hawaii.

Group 3
9. Hawaii
10. Alabama
11. New Jersey
12. North Dakota

Voting is available at the Travel 2.0 blog and open until Saturday.

And remember to tell us why you voted in the comments section.

Are Facebook Apps The New Brand Wasteland? Or Why Facebook Will and Will Not Work For the Travel Industry - Part 2

...Second Life today, post-hype-apocalypse, contains scattered groupings of people in a whole sea of empty space, containing a number of eerily abandoned brand islands. When recently digging through every press release I could find about a brand launching a new Facebook App, I started to wonder if this was the new brand wasteland. At the front of the Facebook list are a myriad of highly social applications with hundreds of thousands, even millions of active users. But to the back are all of the big names (Coke, Honda, Adidas, Verizon) with applications drawing in... 12 active users? >>Full Story

Thoughts// A great post from the threeminds blog that discusses the abundance of underutilized, forgotten Facebook applications. The post ties in perfectly into an article we discussed a few months ago, 'Why Facebook Will and Will Not Work For the Travel Industry - Part 1.'

The post cites several examples of Facebook applications, created by large corporations, which do not deliver the amount of users or views of non-sponsored applications or widgets. Of course, for a lot of these companies a Facebook application is not a large expenditure, and probably viewed as more of an experiment. Still, 12 active users is a remarkably small amount.

The article is very similar to our previous post discussing how companies and organizations created Facebook profiles, hoping to gather thousands of 'friends' for their product or brand, only to be 'friended' by a few, let us say, less-than-perfect users.

Most interesting was the example of the Sony sponsorship of an already existing, already popular (vampire) Facebook application. Brilliant. A built-in audience, interested in the same subject, why wouldn't you take advantage of it?

The article also goes onto to mention the use of groups, (built-in audience!) to create 'mini-sites' for your brand / product. Not sure if I would go that far, but it is certainly a good option.

Finally, I love the App Don'ts, which could work for any new media / interactive project / website:

App Don'ts
1. Don't start a new version of something that is already popular.
2. Don't overcomplicate the concept or interface.
3. Don't extend a campaign without thinking about the social context.
4. Don't separate your fans, reach them where they already exist.

Words to live, and network, by.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Minnesota Takes Group 1

The race for Group 1 finished a little tighter than originally thought with Minnesota taking the win over a tight battle for second among Maine, California and D.C. Minnesota now moves onto Round 2.

Group 1
1. Maine - 23%
2. Minnesota - 33%
3. California - 22%
4. District of Columbia - 20%

Original poll results available in the right column of the blog.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Travel Trends - Blogging While Traveling, Forms, yatt'it

Have Blog, Will Travel - One of the ways I keep up with the Arizona Office of Tourism's social footprint is by subscribing to several Google Alerts on the subject. FYI, you will see some interesting things written about your state / city / attraction. But I digress. The other day, I came across a blog currently being written by an Irish family who decided to take 3 kids and a RV across the U.S. for 6 (count 'em, 6!) months. Aside from the fact that it is amazing that technology allows them to share the entire trip with relatives and friends thousands of miles away, in near real-time, the blog is a fascinating read as well as an interesting look at how travelers perceive your destination. One of many, I am sure, but really, 6 owe them a quick look. We can only hope they make it to Wally World.

Did you fill out a form for that? - A lot people don't like forms, count Luke Wroblewski as one of those people. Website blog A List Apart brings us an excerpt from Luke's upcoming book that discusses why forms are bad and how you can start to get rid of them. Of course, for a DMO or attraction or airline that needs a physical address to fulfill that brochure you ordered, getting rid of forms is going to be tough...okay, impossible...but Luke does provide some pointers to at least make the process less painful.

Join our Social Network too! - You mean you are not part of your favorite hotel's social network? Well stop writing posts on your GE Microwave / Blender social network (those blendies are so last year) and point all of your free time at Hyatt launched into the social networking world last year with this travel tip / recommendation site which combines Gold Passport members, concierge advice and Frommer's information. I think the idea of including tips from the on site concierge staff is great, same with subsidizing the content offering via Frommers, but the site seems to be coming up a bit short. So far this year there have been a grand total of 2 tips in the Phoenix / Scottsdale section...2 tips in 3 months...not exactly the up-to-date insider information I am looking for. Again, it all goes back to critical mass. If you don't have enough people populating your UGC site with content it will slowly fade away. Perhaps Hyatt should have focused more energy into providing (for example) text message alerts during your stay...the concierge could send you a text if they have show tickets or a great dinner reservation or a tee time. Anything besides another social network. I already belong to 489 of more is just too much.

The Great Travel Site Showdown - Group 2

Minnesota is out front in Group 1, pulling away from the spirited Maine Office of Tourism.

Group 2 is up next, with several favorites including Oregon and Virginia. Perhaps this should have been the group of death.

Group 2
5. Oregon
6. Washington
7. Alaska
8. Virginia

Voting is available on the Travel 2.0 blog and open until Tuesday.

More on the Great Travel Site Showdown is available at blog.

Remember to tell us why you voted in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Get Outta My Website...And Into My Phone!

They look like pixelated puzzles, or maybe a printing error. But the indecipherable ink squares hold the promise of a new form of mobile information delivery that could change the way we interact with the world around us.

The ink squares are a new kind of bar code that can be scanned by camera phones, giving mobile users instant access to information on the fly. The technology is in its infancy in the United States but is well-tested abroad, where it enables users to download music and videos, read restaurant reviews, and get information on a variety of products and businesses. >>Full Story

Thoughts:// A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle describes an interesting mobile experiment taking place in the city. In one of the biggest large scale urban 2D barcode programs in the U.S., CitySearch will now be tagging more than 500 restaurants, shops and businesses with pixelated codes to enable cell phone users to interact with them. All you do is whip out your phone, scan the bar code and read reviews, watch video or access other relevant content from the Citysearch database. Based on reviews, you can keep walking down the street...or venture in for your next meal.

While these bar codes have become ubiquitous internationally (see "New Bar Codes Can Talk to Your Phone"), there are significant barriers to adoption in the U.S. For this to really work, you have to: a) own a cell phone that reads barcodes, b) download scanning software c) have mobile Internet access (the code opens reviews in a browser). The outcome of the experiment in San Francisco however, has the potential to drastically change the status quo and totally open up your content and engage consumers in dramatically different way.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is totally going to change the way Troy and I measure "engagement".