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, May 28, 2008

Travel Trends - Paperless Boarding, Bankrupt Design, Bloggers

Paperless Boarding - It's about time! Last month the TSA and Continental Airlines announced they would continue rolling out the Paperless Boarding Pass pilot program (it started last December) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Newark (N.J.) International Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston during the month of May. Finally, we can stop carrying around those super-secure boarding passes...not to mention save a fee more trees.

And, see that little square bar code on that gentleman's phone? That would be your standard 2-D Barcode...get ready for your phone to take over simplify your life.

Bankrupt Design - Personally, I always find it fascinating how defunct companies 'soften' their websites to explain why they left you stranded in Chicago.

What (or who) is a blogger? - Interesting stats from the Center for Media Research. Beyond simply promoting ourselves, you should know that these are the people who are increasingly holding high influence over your consumers. (here's a secret, most of your consumers trust bloggers more than you!)

According to the BIGresearch Simultaneous Media Survey, 26% of all adults say they regularly or occasionally blog. Of those:

- 53.7% are male
- 44.7% are married
- 28.4% hold a professional or managerial position
- 10.4% are students.

Bloggers tend to be younger, averaging 37.6 years old, compared to 44.8 for adults 18+ (the "general population"). Ethnically:

- 69.7% of Bloggers are White/Caucasian (vs. 76.1%)
- 12.2% are African American/Black (vs. 11.4%)
- 3.7% are Asian (vs. 2.0%)
- 20% of Bloggers are Hispanic, compared to 14.8% of adults 18+

In addition, Bloggers report a lower income ($55,819 vs. $56,811) and are better educated (14.3 years of education vs. 14.2).

Although Bloggers are more likely to use new media, the analysis finds that more conventional forms of media trigger their Internet searches. Magazines, at 51.6%, rank highest, followed by:

- 48.8% reading an article
- 46.1% broadcast TV
- 44.5% cable TV
- 42.5% face-to-face communication
- 39.7% newspaper

Gary Drenik, President of BIGresearch, concludes "Bloggers are a diverse group and not who you would expect..."

Airlines Looking For New Revenue Streams

More airline commentary from the team at The Onion.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Great Travel Site Showdown - Groups 11, 12 and 13

Well, we are in the home stretch of Round 1 with only 3 groups left. Meanwhile, North Carolina and Wisconsin advanced to the second round with convincing wins in Groups 9 and 10 respectively.

Let's talk a look at the lineup for Groups 11, 12 and 13:

Group 11
41. Arizona
42. Idaho
43. Nevada
44. West Virginia

Group 12
45. Louisiana
46. Connecticut
47. Wyoming
48. Texas

Group 13
49. Massachusetts
50. New Hampshire
51. Illinois
52. Colorado

The voting closes for these final 3 groups next Tuesday. Good luck all!

Miss a round? Catch up on the Travel 2.0 blog.

Your Lowdown on the Smackdown

As we reported here last week, an elite group of marketers from around the country surreptitiously assembled in Portland last week for a no-holds-bared, two-day "smackdown" at the Heathman Hotel. Unlike your typical smash-mouth wrestlemania event, this gathering represented a collaborative and congenial discussion on "best practices" for destination marketing.

Representing the collective wisdom of about 25 states, the conversations covered every conceivable topic destination marketers face on a daily basis: how to bring non-traditional partners into co-op programs, marketing tactics that worked (or didn't), quirky PR techniques, analytics and digital marketing—and of course the requisite debauchery and fun that invariably happens when marketing folks congregate!

Thoughts// I've been to many marketing conferences and workshops but nothing comes remotely close to the education, inspiration and genuine camaraderie I experienced at "smackdown". United by common challenges and the reassurance of unassuming peers, the two day event is an honest forum for sharing best practices and breeding new ideas. The following are my opinions on some highlights (in no particular order) from "smackdown":

  1. Most Interesting Contest /Partnership Idea: Montana's Cast & Camp "glamping" (think glamor + camping) giveaway partnership with Orvis (the giveaway is worth $17,000 and yes, you can still enter to win!)

  2. Cool Use of Guerilla Tactics: South Dakota's "Street Team" for a promotion inviting Minnesotans to visit the state (six Cowboy re-enactors were brought in to ride the trains and roam the streets of the Twin Cities for a week)

  3. Most Fun Viral Idea: My Favorite Minnesota campaign; the campaign has been up for a while and basically is a user & agency generated video collection of local favorites such as - "Best Places to Eat a Burger" and "Favorite Shopping Spots"

  4. Most Ambitious Infrastructure Project: Wyoming Tourism leading all state agencies in building a comprehensive GIS map of the state's infrastructure (visitor and also transportation)

  5. Best Brand Story: Mississippi's embrace of the idea that the state is the "Birthplace of America's Music"; this idea is manifested and embraced across all mediums...including a 24/7 live streaming Mississippi radio station

On the digital front, Troy and I led a conversation on the need for a common "engagement matrix" for the states to gauge the effectiveness of both their web presence and also online campaigns. After a brief discussion, the group agreed on the need for such a matrix to reinforce the directional "click thru" and "unique visitor" numbers and suggested that the following essential "engagement points":

  1. Bounce rate

  2. Time on site

  3. Orders of travel guides
  4. Downloads of travel guides (or other defined items)

  5. Feed subscription

  6. Forwards/Sharing

  7. Trip planning activity

  8. Ratings/reviews

  9. Videos watched

  10. Site Search

  11. Other engagements as defined by individual sites (e.g. taking the "Passionality Test" at

Our next step now is to take this feedback, assign "weights" to each engagement point and then present a draft "formula" at ESTO in August.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the most thought provoking presentation of the conference by Ian Yolles, founding member of Nau, a Portland based sustainable clothing manufacturer. Nau's embarked on an ambitious goal to "show the world that business can be a force for positive social and environmental change....and creating a sustainable future for humans and the planet." Ian's moving story on the founding principles of Nau and how they went about provoking "change" in the world was not only insightful but also deeply inspirational and moving to anyone looking to defy conventional wisdom.

For more on Nau and their unconventional charge into the retail world, please read "Nau: ahead of its time?"

~ Happy Monday...umm Tuesday! (Sorry too much partying in honor of our birthday!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Travel 2.0!

Happy Birthday to us! We are celebrating a bit early, our actual birthday is on you know it will be a long weekend of partying! And a holiday on Monday, sweet.

1 year, 250+ posts (thoughts, trends and rants), 300+ daily readers and 2 tired writers later, Travel 2.0 is officially 1 year old.

As always thanks to all of our readers and contributors. We are proud to author this blog as well as continue to inform our industry of the latest interactive / travel trends. The response from our readers and the travel community has been tremendous and we look forward to another year of telling you what to do.

Mo and Troy

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Even More FREE Ways to Track Online Buzz

Back by popular demand, more (free!) ways to track your web presence and buzz online. Many of your recall our previous posts on the topic...Easy and FREE Ways to Track Your Online Presence...Plus, See What California is Up To, More FREE Ways to Track Your Web Presence and Quick Case Study: Google Trends...and we wanted to highlight two ways to track the ever mysterious 'social networking buzz.'

Before we dig into the options, it should be said that both of these solutions simply provide a rough idea of buzz related to each this case, Facebook and Twitter. Personally, I would not necessarily include these numbers in my annual report, but they will give you a look into what is being discussed on these undeniably popular websites.

However, if you are one of those organizations who are purposely running a 'Gen-X' Facebook campaign to generate buzz, then I would be looking at these charts every between games of solitaire, of course.

Facebook Lexicon:
Facebook's new Lexicon feature (Facebook login required) allows you to view words and phrases that have been written or left on a user's wall...think of it as viewing all of the comments friends have left on your profile page. While certainly not scientific, the data does give you a good idea of what people on Facebook are talking, thinking, doing. For example, look at the chart below comparing recent movies Indiana Jones, Iron Man and Speed Racer.

Notice the huge spike in 'words' for Iron Man around April 30th (premiered May 2nd) and then the fairly large drop-off. You can also see that buzz for Indiana Jones is building, however mentions of Speed Racer barely registered on the graph.

Developed by Flaptor, Twist is another buzz monitoring application, this time for Twitter. If you are not familiar with Twitter, it is basically a running list of what you are doing at the time, limited to 140 characters (be concise!).

Twitter is quickly becoming a near instant source of information when news breaks...beyond just simple messages of going to the grocery, monitoring Twitter can be a key way to stay ahead of any bad press or negative reviews.

Again, like Lexicon, simply type in two or more words to compare results. Let's try the same sample set:

(Can't see the graph? View it on the Travel 2.0 blog.)

Well, if I am working on the Indiana Jones promo campaign I can enjoy a long weekend. If I was working on the Speed Racer campaign, I have probably been enjoying long weekends for awhile.

In addition to this data, Twist also allows you to see what context these keywords have been used. Click on the 'see what people are saying about indiana jones' link and follow the conversation.

For example:

ivyaurora: We saw the new Indiana Jones movie today right after coming out of the field.

Lirianna: Just got to the theater to see Indiana Jones... hope it's worth it. I want real food! : (

SinnedSoul: Just got back from Indiana Jones...not bad, not bad at all. If you're a fan of the others you'll like this one. The theme is silly though.

instapundit: : KYLE SMITH DOESN'T LIKE the new Indiana Jones movie, calling it "the worst Steven Spielberg popcorn..

rossdavis: @explodey friendly monkeys from Indiana Jones

What do you know, regular people are just like you and I!

Full credit to TechCrunch, who featured a post about this topic a few weeks ago.

Travel Trends - Luggage, UGC, Twitter, More JetBlue, Bad Photoshop

Checking 2 bags? That will be $40, thanks! - Wow. American Airlines will start charging $15 for the first checked bag, cut domestic flights and lay off workers as it grapples with record-high fuel prices. That's right, $15 for the first bag. So, if you are a family of 4 flying from Chicago to Phoenix for a week vacation, each carrying 2 bags each, that means you will have to pay $160 just to get your bags to Sky Harbor. Now, I am the first to admit I do not know the intricate economic factors that affect the airline industry, but rather than charging for the first bag, just lie to us. Stick that $15 in another fee...environmental conservation fee, new tire fee, landing taxes, whatever...but telling us (and yes, this is completely opposite all of the transparency we push on the blog) it is for the first bag feels like a slap in the face.

My two 'trends' from this announcement...(1) carry-on bags will get even bigger and will hurt even more when they hit you in the head...(2) companies such as and will become much more popular.

Big Media Is Dead...Again...Really - Interesting stats from eMarketer on the attitudes of our fellow marketing professionals. Bye-bye TV!

JetBlue 'Following' Consumer Trends Via Twitter - A very interesting post from Joel at the socialized blog. Basically jetBlue was or is following conversations on Twitter (confused about Twitter, here is the explanation) to improve customer service, look for trends, etc, etc. Twitter is a great way to communicate quickly with your friends and peers, so if you are stuck at JFK because the ground crew is late and decide to rant about it via Twitter, (in theory) the JetBlue communications team will have a head start on resolving the issue. A fascinating read and an interesting us of new technology by a large company. Now, how do you feel about JetBlue 'following' your conversations?

More JetBlue - JetBlue has recently launched a new 'Happy Jetting' campaign, complete with a new Happy Jetting website. The site 'aims to bring back humanity to flying' not to mention push the companies new Green initiative (who doesn't have one?), show off some of the new creative, allow users to play games and generally feel warm and fussy about flying JetBlue. Which, I will admit, TV in-seat is nice! If nothing else check out the 'almost totally real pilot name' generator, an old trick that interactive folks love to add to sites like these, but still fun.

This is your captain, Troy 'Romance' Thompson, speaking, enjoy your flight.

My New Favorite Blog - Photoshop is a dangerous program in the wrong hands. Having been a photoshop 'guru' in a previous life (sorry, the new versions confuse me), I love the Photoshop Disasters blog. It just goes to show that we all make mistakes (some larger than others) and that not everyone should be using Photoshop!

The Great Travel Site Showdown Returns!

Okay, 2 trips to the hospital, 100+ hours of sick time and one less appendix later, we can finally get the showdown back on track.

A quick recap, Michigan won Group 6, Montana won Group 7 and Ohio won Group 8. Could we see an Ohio v. Michigan match-up in the second round? Better get your team ready George!

So far we have Minnesota, Virginia, Hawaii, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Montana and Ohio already in the second round.

Today, Groups 9 and 10:

Group 9
North Carolina
34. Nebraska
35. New York
36. New Mexico

Group 10
37. Rhode Island
38. Wisconsin
39. Missouri
40. South Dakota

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Smackdown in Bridgetown - 2 Days Only!

The Travel Oregon team is psyched to host the annual "State Tourism Smackdown" this week at the Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland. Open to only state tourism office personnel who have responsibility for marketing and/or advertising programs and state tourism ad agencies, this annual event is a collaborative work session about how each state is responding to consumer trends and what's worked (and what hasn't worked) in our marketing programs over the past year.

This year's topics include: how does sustainability factor into marketing, analytics (oh yes, we could not resist!) and the ever popular sharing of best practices from the states. We're also factoring some fun into the mix with a tour of the Pearl District, our agency Wieden+Kennedy and the wine country. Watch this blog for more updates from Smackdown!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Travel Trends: Have Friends, Will Travel

MySpace “Data Availability” - Sick of updating your profile on multiple social networks? Perhaps not for long. MySpace recently announced a "data sharing" partnership with a Yahoo, Ebay, Twitter and their own Photobucket subsidiary. The project called MySpace “Data Availability” will allow users to house their information in one place have it available in other sites. For example, your MySpace default photo, interests and favorite music might be displayed on your Yahoo Instant Messenger or your Ebay account.

Facebook Connect - Of course not to be outdone, Facebook shortly thereafter announced "Facebook Connect", an application that allows users to "connect their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to any site." The implications of this applications (that's still in development) could have a profound impact on brands looking to build and leverage community within their digital experiences. A practical example could be that I use my Facebook account now to access GoSeeOregon in order to rate places and write reviews; my friends in turn would be able to access my reviews directly from Facebook making the experience more relevant and meaningful.

Google Friend Connect - Google's version of data portability puts two spins on this concept. First, its program is designed to allow very small Web sites to add some social networking features without sophisticated programming. All they have to do is copy a little code onto their Web pages. Second, Google lets site owners link to a range of other sites, including, for various functions, AOL, Yahoo and Facebook.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ntsayka Ikanum: Our Story

Technologies introduced into North America during the past 500 years have certainly proved disruptive to indigenous societies and their cultures. The introduction of the horse and later the repeating rifle changed living patterns and tribal organizations significantly. Movies and television so distorted traditional values and stories that Mickey Mouse supplanted traditional Native American figures such as Hopi kachina dolls. Tribal storytelling was partially replaced by outside, for-profit storytelling. Time and again, technology has worked against the preservation of indigenous culture. Until Now. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Having worked on a number of tribal issues during my agency days in Arizona, I've always been fascinated and intrigued by the vivid storytelling and heritage of Native Americans. As tribal members increasingly become assimilated and lose their their tribal heritage, preserving tribal language, folktales and oral histories have become a common challenge for most, if not all tribes.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being on a "Heritage on the Web" panel at the Oregon Heritage Commission in Eugene. I also had the distinct honor of listening to fellow panelist Lindy Trolan from the Grande Ronde Tribe's Cultural Resources Department who explained the tribe's efforts to build a "digital museum" in order to tell the tribe's story until a time that a physical museum can be built.

A moving experience brought to life through video, audio and rich photography, the virtual museum is an immaculately designed site that gives visitors the opportunity to hear and read the words and teachings of the tribe's ancestors. What was most interesting to hear was the meticulous planning that went into the site; they include: chronicling and photographing tribal artifacts all over the world including the Smithsonian in Washington DC and collections in London; capturing elders' stories on video and audio; putting together a tribal alphabet teaching program online.

This Webby honored site is most definitely an inspiration for anyone looking to bring historic preservation to life through digital storytelling.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Open Rate Must Die

The email open rate is simply a tired, inaccurate and irrelevant metric that no longer measures what it was originally intended to. As a result, it gives you the wrong picture of your subscribers’ interest in and involvement with your mailings. (”Engagement,” if you want to use the buzzword). >>Full Story

Thoughts// Frequent readers of this blog are all too familiar with our opinions on the collective reliance of the "click rate" as a measure of success in online campaigns. This thought provoking blog by MediaPost's Email Insider extends this argument to e-mail. The author makes the valid point that using the default "read rate" as calculated by your e-mail platform is a flawed metric, akin to the music industry "measuring sales based on the number of CDs sold."

In most e-mail clients, the read rate is based on the display of a tracking image on each e-mail displayed. The author lays out the following scenarios of why there are inherent flaws with this method of tracking.

  1. The e-mail is “opened” (launched), but images are blocked: not counted as an open.

  2. The e-mail is not opened (launched), but images are enabled and is read in the preview pane: counted as an open

  3. The text version of a message is read on a BlackBerry. The HTML version (with images blocked) is later opened in Gmail (or other email service/client). The email has been opened and read twice — but zero opens are recorded.

  4. A text version is opened and read but not clicked: not counted as an open

  5. A text version is opened and read, but the user clicks a link: not counted as an open with some email software. Others assign an open because the email was clicked on, which assumes an open.

To the author's point, consumers engagement with your e-mail could be tracked by measuring clicks on actionable calls to action...but as illustrated by the examples above, you don't necessarily have to click to be involved.

As an example, the image above is a rendering of my May Colorado e-newsletter. While I didn't enable images or click on any links, I did get the message that "May is archaeology month in Colorado" and that there is "no better place to celebrate than Mesa Verde Country."

Engaged? Yes! Tracked? No! My privacy intact? Most definitely! :)

We're curious... how are you measuring the effectiveness of your e-mail newsletters?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Making Digital Meaningful

...Advertisers aren't focused on building the digital applications that people want to use; they're focused on somehow cramming marketing into them. Some kid comes up with the next YouTube, Facebook or mobile platform, and most advertisers want to figure out how to market on it. Instead of designing and developing useful applications that could give brands the opportunity to insert themselves meaningfully into our lives, we get cutesy but useless "Sprite Sips" on Facebook, ubiquitous banners in all shapes and sizes and microsites that you won't likely return to. And I'm talking about digital advertising -- never mind traditional. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A great read on a topic we've written on this blog before. While the piece is directed primarily towards agencies, it goes without saying that digital advertising today is a vastly under utilized and many of us have sadly resorted to pointless social applications (SpriteSips) or gimmicky microsites instead of providing meaningful experiences that are inherently valuable to consumers. The author's point of view was supported by a recent AdWeek article and challenges us to view digital brand experiences through the prisms of:

  1. Usefulness: Instead of providing interruptions and gimmicks, give consumers applications that are meaningful to their lives and serves a purpose.

  2. Utility: Give them tools that improve their lives—even if it's overly simplistic—such as Dominos' Pizza Builder.

  3. Ubiquity: Don't segregate your applications to just your site; consumers are hanging out on mutiple social networks and are using multiple platforms to access content. Make your content/applications portabe across platforms and networks.

The Facebook application, iLike is a great example of a useful utility. iLike allows you to keep in touch with your favorite artists and discover new (similar) artists; in addition to adding music and video to your profile, it also tells you when your favorite artists are in town. Thanks to such an artist update, my wife and I will be spending next Sunday at a Kate Nash concert in fact, we literally bought tickets within 24 hours of seeing the updated news feed on the show. Now that's a meaningful digital application!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Take Control of Your Maps

We live in the era of Google Maps. What started off as an impressive refresh of Mapquest-style maps now fuels web mashups. With APIs official and unofficial, Google Maps is simple enough for front-end designers to embed and for back-end programmers to target. Along the way to becoming nearly ubiquitous, it has played a major role in the “democratization of mapping.” For the practical developer who wants to add geospatial information to a site or application, the Google Maps API has been an easy call.

But, perhaps no longer...ask yourself this question: why would you, as a website developer who controls all aspects of your site, from typography to layout, to color palette to photography, to UI functionality, allow a big, alien blob to be plopped down in the middle of your otherwise meticulously designed application? >>Full Story

Thoughts// Visualization through dynamic mapping is a core function of most—if not all—destination sites and the majority of us (including yours truly) are fixated on using a Google, Yahoo or Live "mash up" maps. While these third party applications are for the most part practical, affordable, and accessible, the ultimate downside is that they come with a loss of branding.

This thought provoking article explores the increasingly accessible world of custom map development through open source platforms. While custom map development does come at a slightly higher upfront cost than the free third party API's, these costs could be mitigated if the development is deployed over a long term.

But...if neither custom map development nor using API tools from Google fits your budget, smaller DMO's might have another mapping option out there. Yes, this is a shameless plug...but, a former colleague at Travel Oregon, Sean Egusa, recently left us to form his own mapping application, SideStreet. SideStreet allows organizations to provide "personality" based mapping by providing an application to turn existing PDF's, JPGs or GIFs into an interactive guide.