24 September 2006

Space tourists are nothing to do with tourism

I'm beginning to get irritated with the coverage of 'Space Tourist' stories in the travel press, both online and off.

I lay the blame at the door of journalists and computers

Computers are still too stupid to realise that a handful of wealthy individuals buying a ride on a space rocket has nothing to do with the tourist industry, even if a journalist has refered to them as "space tourists".

Newsfeed aggregators just look for keywords, so you often see misplaced headlines appearing in the wrong category. (A classic example was Moreover running an item about models slipping off the runway in their aviation industry category. The models were the Gucci/Prada/YSL sort and for some reason the journalist had described a catwalk as a 'runway'.)

I think journalists get confused about this kind of story because the 'space tourist' concept is somehow reinforced by Richard Branson being involved. (Despite all his music, radio, finance and other Virgin businesses, Branson is inextricably identified with travel because he runs the airline and rail company.)

Until a choice of destinations is available - a space station, the Moon, Mars, etc - people who pay to go into space are simply "passengers" on a ride.

12 September 2006

Colin Thubron podcast

One of the UK's best-known travel writers, Colin Thubron, has just published (7 Sept) his latest travel book Shadow of the Silk Road - an excellent and exotic tale of his travels through China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.

The Times Online have a podcast of the author talking about his book and reading extracts.

I think it is both interesting and evocative (it certainly rekindled my enthusiasm for visiting parts of that region) but you shouldn't take my word for it because I have have a vested interest. It was me (wearing my podcaster hat) who produced it for them.

Theme park fingerprint scanners

Some time ago the major theme parks in the USA started introducing fingerprint scanners at their turnstyles to prevent visitors from using tickets that had been resold or transfered.

In response to an item about Disney upgrading their scanners, there's a very interesting and informed debate on the ethics of all this at the The Park Insider blog.

Moderation in all things - especially advertising

Every time I login to write a new blog I'm presented with the option to 'make money from your blog'. IE to add Google adverts to the Travelling Online blog site.

Tempting.... but no.

We already have enough Google text ads on the Travel-Lists.co.uk site, and I tightly control them so they don't become too obtrusive (eg not on the home page or slowing up any navigation pages).

Sometimes you can have just too much of a good thing!

03 September 2006

Life's little irritations

Oh purleeze!!

I'm in 'grouchy old man' mode. Haven't had my coffee yet! (Actually I have. It's Sunday morning and I've already bought my newspaper and read part of it over a coffee in the local Costa bar. It occurs to me that the startlingly rapid growth of the Starbucks, Costa, Nero et al must be down to the widespread use of instant coffee. Next to that, any proper coffee tastes good. But if, like me, you only drink real coffee, what they offer is pretty mediocre and unsatisfying - not a patch on my own prefered brew, Taylor's 'Take it Easy'.)

Anyway. I digress.

My (other) irritation this morning is the usual batch of emails from people trying to get into the Travel-Lists directory.

The link exchange merchants who "have studied your impressive website and think it would make an excellent match for visitors to my site" clearly haven't looked very closely at all. If they had made even the most superficial study of how the site works or what the contact details are, they would have discovered that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is to be listed in Travel-Lists in return for a link!

A few, as today, realise that and try the 'official news source' approach by sending a, usually badly written, "press release".

Look, it's easy! Go to the British Guild of Travel Writers website (www.bgtw.org), pay £108 for the yearbook and access to the online database, both of which will list all 214 PR companies that specialise in the travel sector. Then hire any one of them for several hundred pounds to write and distribute a press release, which might or might not catch my eye... or pay our £16.50 review fee!

Ah, my perculator is just reaching the end of its 'perc'... relief!