Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shanghai skyline 1990 vs 2010

China has often been a topic here on the BOOT. Nothing sums up the growth and change in China like this photo comparing the Shanghai skyline of 1990 with last year (2010).

Hat tips it io9 and @nils_gilman

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BOOT has an iPhone - what should he do with it?

The BOOT is on the hunt. I have a new iPhone in a my pocket and gigabytes of empty space waiting to be filled with apps. Please let me know your recommendations for the best general, social media and especially travel apps.

Once I am a few months into iPhone ownership I will launch a new App Review section at the BOOT to go alongside my seat reviews.

For some background thoughts check out my two part post on Tnooz about the mobile revolution (part 1, part 2).

thanks to Jeffrey Beall for the photo via flickr

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Predictions: The BOOT on which trends live and which ones die in 2011

I loved 2010. So much happened in online travel that I have cricks in my neck from looking left and right, from scanning an RSS news feed on one side, tweets and r-tweets on the other, conference presentations filled with announcements, press releases filling up my inbox, posts to the left of me, news to the right...here we are stuck in the middle of the most exciting online industry in the world.

Don't slow down, 2011 is already here. The Boot has six predictions for 2010. Three things will live and thrive and three things will wither and die:

2011 - three things will thrive

1. Social lives:
the parallel rises of social media, the open ended question and consumers willingness to discuss and share everything openly and freely will in 20011 continue to change the way the industry attracts and retains customers. The traffic numbers of Facebook, Twitter, foursquare etc are all but unprecedented. But it is not their rise that is the story. The story is the consumer behaviour behind the rise of these products. Pick your metaphor - consumers have opened the kimono, dropped their pants or invited everyone in to their lives. Nothing is sacred. Everything can and will be shared. In 2011 the online travel industry will continue to adjust marketing channels and communications techniques to match this trend. Five tips on how to do that are here.

2. Search lives: but not as you know it. Search has changed forever especially the measure of authority. The display changes we have seen in Google and Bing in 2010 are a precursor to the profound changes I expect to see in the measure of authority for content/sites in search in 2011.
The old measure of inbound links will be enhanced with input from social networks, context and location, expert advice, preference matching and more. Search marketing will have to change to encompass content, social, information syndication and data mining. I am predicting there will be as many six factors that drive authority in search.

In addition to the changes in authority, search will change in how results are displayed. Results will become multi-destinational and multi-dimensional.

3. Data lives: In 2010 the Economist introduced me to the yottabyte as a indicator of how much data is being collected every day on everything (yottabyte = 2 to the power of 80 bytes or 1000 Zettabyte). The online travel industry following suit - collecting data on a scale unimaginable five years ago and the quantity is rising exponentially by the day. The access to this level of data and the open and honest nature of this data gives the industry the chance to profile and market to consumers at a level of detail down to and below the level of the individual. In 2011 that data will be put to use. My EveryYou concept will take even further hold in online travel (more on EveryYou here). More and more you will hear of activities in online travel to develop specific and targeted recommendations of one based on the unique combination of desires, needs and interests of each individual at any moment in time. Micro-targeting at scale.

2011 - three things will die

1. Convergence dies: For the first decade and half of online travel and the last fifteen years of communications technology, the non-stop talk was around convergence. That devices would merge. That our phones, computers, TVs, game consoles, printers, fridges and more would all come together in one device. The opposite is true. Convergence is dead. Devices are becoming (at the same time) more specialised, more capable and more connected. As a result, in 2011 we will give up on the idea of convergence of devices and instead adopt a concept of multiple devices supporting a communications ecosystem. Activities will start on one device, continue on another and conclude on a third. Each device in the chain will have a main purpose different from the other but will be able to support activities spread across other devices. Our different devices will remain with separate functions (content creation devices, gaming and entertainment devices, communications devices) but each will connect and share with the other in a common network.

2. Mobile dies: Sure mobile is everywhere. Sure I ate humble pie and admitted that 2009 was the year of the mobile. But in 2011 the mobile/tablet/PC debate will change from building for devices to building for display preferences. Device distinction as a designator for what is or is not built will die. Device platform discussions will move from “which product is this built for” to “is this compatible for all displays”.

Much like we now say that a site has to be web ready rather than differentiating between its readiness on FireFox, Chrome, Safari, opera and IE. The type of the device and whether or not it is mobile is now irrelevant. Mobile/PC/Tablet will be the different “browsers” of 2011. All code will need to be written in preparation for this.

(OK that is not the death of mobile - more like the enlightenment or complete ubiquity of mobile - but you get the gist)

3. BAR dies: Best Available Rate has been a staple of the online travel industry since 2002. In response to the absolute transparency of the Internet, chain and independent hotels guaranteed common prices across each distribution channel. In 2011 we have reached a point where through a combination of dramatically improved IP address targeting, growth in closed user groups, private sale sites, group coupon sites and more there will be a myriad of ways in which hotels will put deals out there that are different to their BAR. Get ready for a move to a world of more and more targeting, more and more yield management and a wider variety of prices for the same property and product.

Close your tray tables and turn off your electronic devices. We are in for an amazing and 2011 and the BOOT is here to cover it for you.

If you are interested here are my 2010 predictions

Thanks to 1suisse1 for the image via flickr

Monday, January 03, 2011

BOOT - 7 tips to make flying to the USA easier

Flying to the US can be hard work. There are forms to fill in, inspections to get through, constantly changing rules (so much so that the enforcers or the rules are often not up to date) and airports mired in outdated infrastructure, unable to cope with the numbers of people coming through. For the first time business or leisure traveler I give you business traveler tip number 8. Seven tips for making flying to the US easier

  1. Pre register for a visa through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization system (my earlier post on this). It was a long and confusing role out but as at the date of this post it seams that for many countries the green visa waiver form is finally dead. Instead you need to register before your flight at this website. This applies to the (currently) 36 countries on the visa waiver list (full list here). But beware, these rule change constantly. Check back before each flight;
  2. Avoid LAX if you can. You may not have a choice coming from Asia or the Pacific as to which airport you go through. If you do, choose SFO over LAX. There are less flights per day, the staff are more relaxed (in style not in rule enforcement) and the queue system more orderly. Clearly customs in SFO is simply less stressful that LAX;
  3. Get off the plane fast and keep moving. Once you hit your entry point airport presumably you will be on a plane with another four hundred or so people. Each of whom are doing the same thing you do. Each one you get in front of before the immigration queue is one less person you need to wait to be tagged, bagged and hash-tagged by the immigration team. Get off the plane first and move quickly;
  4. Do not joke or look frustrated with Immigration or TSA. I am sure there are exceptions to this rule and airport/customs/immigration/customs people are people too, but play it safe and play it neutral. No jokes, no expressions of annoyance, no crankiness, no harping, sniping, wobbling, jiggling, biting, kicking or screaming. Play it nice, polite, neutral and grateful (without being a suck up)
  5. Have a hotel/address ready. They will want to know where you are staying. Have the address and phone number handy. If you are staying with a friend or don't know then in theory you have to leave in blank and explain. That means longer in the queue and more delays. Better to put the name and address of a downtown holiday inn or equiv rather than leave blank;
  6. Bring some proof of your work or meeting esp if coming from Asia. Unfortunately there are links to nationals from many Asian countries and attacks on America including 9/11. As a result immigration has been known to be very thorough in their interviews and screening of some Asian passport holders. Therefore it is worth carrying a business card and meeting agenda/conference reciept/letter from your employer that confirms the purpose of the meeting. No need to present unless asked. Proof of return flight also a good idea; and
  7. Beware the Super Shuttle. Last thing you need after 14 + hours in a plane is the impromptu 2 hour tour of whatever town it is that you are staying in that will result from using a Super Shuttle or equivalent. A share bus/van arrangement like a Super Shuttle is a definite money saver but you pay for it with a long and winding trip to the hotel. Take a cab or book a car instead. On the price of the flight it will be a rounding error and worth every penny.
Any other tips?

thanks to im elsewhere via flickr for the photo