Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google brand bidding war extends to tourism orgs

I am an only child so sibling rivalry is a bit of a mystery to me. That said I remember some very vigorous games of football and role playing games against cousins. Nothing beat the satisfaction of crash tackling a cousin during a family event. I imagine that is part of the motivation for this screenshot from a Google search page. On it you can see Tourism NSW bidding for the search term "tourism vic". I would love to be in the room when the head of marketing from Tourism Vic calls their cousin in NSW and demands a please explain....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tuesday 21 June at WIT in Sydney - talking startups

I am at WebInTravel tomorrow (Tuesday 21) at the Shangri-La in Sydney. I will be talking on stage with Ian Cummings of Getflight about start up and trends in online travel in Australia and Asia. We have four themes to cover - search, retail and marketing, planning and engagement. 20 start ups to talk through and a lot of analysis to share. Come join us.

Upate - Tweets will be on hastag #witoz not #webintravel

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

How is the Qantas frequent flyer program like an angry Russian Model - Extended Version

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on how losing Qantas Platinum status was like breaking up with a sexy but temperamental Russian super model. I recently wrote and extended version of that post. Here it is....

After ten years I lost platinum status with Qantas. I fell about 8% short of the status credit target so find myself in the unexpected position of carrying a gold rather than platinum frequent flyer card on my many travels. Time away from the black card has allowed me to reflect on what I am missing and the value of platinum membership. I have decided that losing platinum status is like breaking up with a gorgeous but temperamental eastern European super model. They looked beautiful, your friends were impressed and the promise for excitement was high. But in reality you were treated really badly, the private times never matched the public promise and all that sticks in your mind long after the relationship is over is how often you fought over the stupid things they did but refused to apologize for. So how is losing Qantas FF platinum like breaking up with Ivanka - let me tell you.

I try to remember the fond times but there are too many painful memories. Like Ivanka refusing to take me to the coolest nightclubs in case we are spotted by friends, QANTAS revoked my anytime lounge access via an email promising enhancements to the program. Somehow for QANTAS the word enhancement does not mean improvement.

Like Ivanka refusing to do anything around the house "not with these hands" she would cry - there was the look that a long-haul QANTAS staff member would give you if you pressed the call button and asked for a glass of water during what they had clearly designated as "nap time". That is anytime between two hours after take off and two hours before landing.

Like Ivanka looked good around technology and always had the latest high-end gadgets and gizmos but never knew how to use them - there was the two year stint where QF was claiming to have the best in the air video on demand system despite the fact that SQ, CX and many more clearly had better system. Critically I had two years of flights where the Qantas entertainment system crashed every single time.

Like the time Ivanka told me "it was simply impossible (darling)" for her to be able to change her plans to meet my sick mother but then miraculously found a way when she discovered that my mother was drafting her will - there was the time QF told me that there was nothing they could do to get me on a flight. "The system simply won't let me". Only to change their mind and miraculously find a way 1 minute later when told by a colleague you'd better get them out a storm is coming (story here).

But there is an Ivanka moment I will never forget and always be grateful for. Like when she drove through the rain for two hours to pick me up at the side of the road with a flat tire - there was the time I had to get out of Bangkok but there were simply no seats on the QANTAS flight. I went to the airport 2 hours early and sat and waited. With 30 minutes to go before departure there were 40 people queued up trying to get on this flight. From the far right hand corner of the airport the chief check-in agent waved to his colleague staffing the front of the queue and held up two fingers indicating how many seats there were. Without blinking or pausing the agent then pointed to me and one other passenger - granting us the magic tickets home. Sure I had to downgrade to a middle seat economy. But 38 other people went back to there hotel rooms and cried.

So farewell Qantas Platinum/Ivanka. In my dark moments I miss you and wish I was still part of the in-crowd that gravitated around you. But without you my life has less missed expectations and fights on the side of the friends say I am better off.

(call me)


PS - A news site of note asked me to write this extended version of my Russian model vs Qantas Frequent Flyer programme post then decided to pass on it. What do you think - is this extended post any good?

Monday, June 06, 2011

WebInTravel Australia: Call for startups to be part of the BOOT and more June 21 in Sydney

WebInTravel is coming to Sydney on Tuesday June 21 at the Shangri-La hotel. WIT Australia is a day long conference on travel distribution, travel marketing and travel technology.

I will be presenting with Ian Cummings of Getflight on trends and start up activity in online travel. I am working on a list of Australian and Asian start-ups to feature in the session. Already on the list are rome2rio, travellr, hotelscombined, adioso, viator, whl travel, Brokepacker, Globetrooper, Travellerspoint, CleanCruising, vroomvroomvroom (because one vroom is never enough) and of course Getaway Lounge and Getflight. Write me if you want to be on the list.

Here is the full blurb from the programme
"Find Your Online Groove – Timothy Hughes, BOOT + Ian Cumming, Director, Insight4 Pty Ltd

Timothy Hughes, the scribe behind the BOOT (Business of Online Travel) blog, and Ian Cumming, who’s started several of his own businesses and sold one or two, will scan their eye over the digital travel landscape and share with us what are some of the cool ideas they’ve seen in search, social media, rich media and deals – what’s hot and what’s not and what you ought to be doing."
Bookings still available here. Let me know if you're attending.

PS - we debated a lot the definition of a start-up. In my mind it is any company where the founders are still involved and no exit event has occurred. As a result companies that have been around for a while can still be considered start-ups whereas younger companies that have been sold are out.