Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Is Google gunning for travel?

Anyone scouring the Times job section recently may have noticed that Google is on the prowl again, this time for a travel executive. If the speculation is to be believed, Google is making its first inroads into the world of vertical search, and it is travel information that it is after.

Whilst it may be hard to believe that Google needs more data, a vertical travel search could make it a valid option for your average Joe wanting to book a holiday. What's more, a lot of blog activity generated by 'the ad' ahs thrown up the idea that Google may incorporate video streaming into its holiday results, making a potential Google Travel a very interesting advertising prospect.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Can you really find the best deal online?

Despite the abundance of cheap deals, great flights and reasonable accommodation online, many tourists are still reluctant to part with their hard-earned cash, or submit the organisation of their precious few days a year out of the office, to the mercy of a nameless, faceless entity.

Yet in the face of stiff competition, are high street travel operators really upping their game and offering better service and specialist knowledge in the face of cheaper deals elsewhere? It would seem that in a lot of cases the answer is a rather depressing, no. Too many travel operators are neglecting to cash in on their 'always happy to help' advantage by being, quite frankly, unhelpful. There is also a nagging doubt that high street travel operators are no longer the specialists; offering lots of holidays to lots of places is not always an advantage if it dilutes understanding.

This of course is not to say that face-to-face holiday booking should be discounted, but high street agents may need to raise their game if they want to offer a viable, personable alternative.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New tourism angle for Scotland

Forget haggis, loch ness monsters and beautiful scenery - the Scottish Tourism Board has set its sights on some new attractions.

Kilt-clad men are apparently the most appealing thing about Scotland, especially for those involved in the current sweepstake to find the 20 most eligible Scotsmen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More insurance for unprotected travellers

With the rise of independent travel there are a growing number of unprotected travellers, who are possibly unaware of the risks they face. A legal ruling defining package holidays has revealed that where many travellers thought they were protected by the agent, unless the deal was booked in one complete transaction with all the components dependent upon one another, then there is no protection if an agent or airline goes bust.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Winter Olympics set tone for Turin tourism

Formally overshadowed by the fashion of Milan and the romance of Venice, Turin is staking its claim of the tourism pie whilst hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Long held-dear by ski fanatics (Turin is home to the some of the best skiing in the World) yet the city itself is often over-looked if not completely ignored by snow-bound travellers.

Once the home of Italian film, in its hey-day Turin even provided the location for some of the most iconic cinematic moments from The Italian Job. It is now hoped that some of these famous landmarks will be recognised during filming of the games, and that the spectators flocking to the slopes will venture into the town to explore its delights for themselves.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Holiday search costs companies big

Its good news for holiday companies, but bad for business; British employees spend so long looking for holidays online that it is costing British industry an average of £2.5bn per year in lost productivity.

A survey of 1,500 workers found that 4 out of 5 spend 25 hours researching and booking a holiday and check an average of 6 different sites, all from their work computer.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Environmental impact of flights hits home for travellers

There has always been a hardcore of holidaymakers who refuse to fly due to the severe environmental impact of a rapid increase in air traffic. Yet the trend is no longer confined to dreadlocked eco-warriors; conscientious objectors to air travel are going mainstream.

The recent announcement by Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guide to not only reduce the number of flights he takes himself, but to also include a warning in each new book published about the environmental impact of flying is a sure sign that 2006 is the year of the eco-traveller.

The impact for travel agents could be catastrophic, although it is a situation that the canny can benefit from. In addition to 'offsetting' - a scheme where travellers can make their flight carbon neutral by opting to pay an extra fee to fund a sustainable conservation project, there is obvious money to be made in offering other forms of transport.

Nobody is expecting the environmentally-friendly public to stop going on holiday, they are just being encouraged to find more imaginative ways of getting there. UK-based resorts stand to benefit from renewed interest, as does train travel and even sea-based trips.

Friday, January 27, 2006

ABTA travel agents offer best service

ABTA approved travel agents have been found to offer the best services to customers in terms of dealing with complaints, fair contracts and offering sound advice.

Approved by the Office of Fair Trading ABTA agents are monitored to ensure they maintain the standards necessary for approved status.

So for great travel package deals with operators you can trust contact Holidays-Direct now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rail travel top of the costs in UK

The average cost per mile paid by Britain's railway travellers has soared to excessive levels; for an average £10 fare a British commuter will get about 38 miles, this is compared to 107 in France and a whopping 335 in Slovakia.

A hike in costs at the start of the New Year has made matters worse, London is now the most expensive city in the world for underground travel, and with prices going up by as much as 9% travelling by rail in the UK has definintely become rich person's public transport.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Travel entrepreuners hit the jackpot

Two businessmen from Sussex have hit the business jackpot, although not before 20 years of hard-graft first.

It seems the resurgent popularity of camping and caravanning holidays has come good for the owners of Cinque Ports who have just sold their 19 holiday parks to Graphite Capital for a whopping £130m, making them two very happy campers indeed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The cost of a term-time holiday has just gone up

118 parents in the Doncaster region have just been fined for taking their children out of school during term-time, of these 26 now face court hearings for refusing to pay the £50 fine.

Ethics aside, the fining of parents for taking their children out of school could have some serious repercussions for the holiday industry. Traditionally the cheapest holidays were had to be had during term-time, but add a £50 fine, or a court hearing to the price and its not looking like so much of a great deal anymore.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Is Club 18-30 coming of age?

Following a New Year slim-down, rumours are rife that Thomas Cook may be selling off its infamous Club 18-30 brand. Despite a sophisticated image overhaul by Saatchi & Saatchi, holiday numbers have not reached the 100,000 enjoyed at start of the century.

Bad press and a generally seedy reputation have been blamed for the demise in Club 18-30's popularity. Yet even the introduction of more wholesome activities such as scuba diving and golf have not brought the revellers back.

Whilst things are starting to look up for the brand, and Thomas Cook has not confirmed rumours, a selling or floatation of the company looks inevitable.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Go online or go under

It is predicted that a third of all travel agents will close in the next 10 years unless online selling opportunities are maximised.

Speaking at a travel conference in Marrakech, Chris Motterhead, former boss of Lunn Poly, advised delegates that 30% of business should be coming from online sources. He also spoke of increased customer expectations; resulting in the onus being put on traditional agents to become tour operators, and even property landlords in their selected regions of expertise.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Can you trust the broucheres?

Holiday Which? magazine has issued a scathing report on the ethics of unscrupulous holiday companies who advertise their resorts in an unrealistically optimistic light.

Whilst not accused of telling downright lies, some holiday companies have been charged with being 'disingenuously economical' with the truth by publishing pictures of hotels with building work and major roads carefully edited out.

Holiday makers are advised to question travel operators directly as to the state they may find their hotels in and to always stick to reputable agencies.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Late holiday deals beat January blues

Holidays you like have the perfect anti-dote to the January blues; a selection of all inclusive holiday packages, bargain package holidays and late holiday deals to cheer up even the darkest January day.

With breaks to Malta, the Algarve and the Costa del Sol starting from just £175, you really can afford to get away from it all this January.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mars and back in 6 hours? It could happen......

Holiday-makers are becoming more adventurous in their choice of destination with exotic sounding cities such as Ljublijana regularly featuring in the top ten city break destinations, yet technology reported in the New Scientist could stretch the boundaries even further.

American scientists have developed a hypothetical spacecraft that, if their theory on the fabric of the Universe is true, could get you to Mars in just 3 short hours. The system relies on the creation of a massive magnetic field which will allow the spacecraft to slip into another dimension where, fortuitously, the speed of light is faster, meaning the spacecraft can whiz along in the super-charged slipstream.

So that beats queuing for hours at Heathrow at least, but when can you go? The US airforce is currently showing an interest in the technology, but in a best case scenario, testing may begin in 5 years... so it looks it may still be Malaga for a few summers to come.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Childless couples change holiday trends

With a quarter of Brits taking their annual holiday in winter the traditional summer holiday is on the wane. The figures, produced by an International Currency Exchange survey, reveal a change in the demographics of the typical British household. An increase in the number of childless couples means that school term timetables are no longer the major considerataion for holiday planning, resulting in only 3 out of 5 Britons going on holiday last summer.

This is good news for travel agents specialising in winter sun resorts; typically in far-flung locations these resorts are popular with affulent couples looking or some luxury, and a child-free poolside.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bumper Christmas holiday causes mammoth lost production

Due to Christmas and New Years days falling on Sundays, this festive break is set to be one of the longest on record. The 3-week shut-down will cost £1.2 billion in lost production with 4 million British workers expected to be out of the office for a fortnight.

An other bumper crop is the number of people travelling abroad this festive period, estimated at 2.3 million. The holiday season has begun early with many companies gradually scaling down production from the 19th December and many employees setting off earlier on their travels to avoid the rush.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Long distance travel WILL pose a threat to health

It has been announced that all journeys over 4 hours long will increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. Whilst the risk is only small, it is undoubtedly real and should be acknowledged by all travellers.

DVT has been in the press quite a lot recently and whilst it is true that in some instances it can result in death, there are some fairly simple, yet effective steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. A person of generally good health is generally less likely to develop thrombosis, and older people do have a higher risk. Yet all members of the populace can protect themselves by wearing travel socks and, wherever possible, taking the opportunity to get up or at least move your legs if actually walking is impossible.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Online travel spend to grow by 10%

Jupiter Research has predicted that online display and search advertising spend will increase annually at an average rate of 10% a year until 2010. The online travel industry is set to enjoy a whopping 13% annual growth rate