31 May 2008

Lateral thinking from First Luggage

Woman surrounded by luggage
I quite admire this move from First Luggage.

They are a fairly well-known web-based start-up in the travel sector. They specialise in forwarding travellers' bags so, for example, passengers (well-heeled passengers) can avoid carrying loads of bags to the airport by having them forwarded to their hotel or villa. The service operates throughout Europe, North America, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand.

Obviously, like any other business, they've been casting about for other potential markets, and have come up with this one.... Students

The launch blurb reads...

"So you’ve survived your first year at university? But, how are you going to manage the stress of shuffling all your stuff between home and halls? Think smart and choose First Luggage to take the load of your mind, and your hands. If you’re fed up lugging heavy cases between university and home First Luggage’s Smarter Student service will do the work for you - now there’s something you won’t hear too often!"

Good thinking!

06 May 2008

Don't like this travel company? Then find a blog and post your thoughts!

I don't get many comments on this blog, and some I reject (not publish) because they are not relevant, but even though the numbers are small, a couple of comments submitted in the past few days have highlighted a clear trend - the way social media is used as a platform by disaffected consumers.

The two key points are:

  • The majority of comments submitted to this blog are a subjective complaint about bad practise by a company or organisation mentioned in the post.

  • All of those are made in response to a post which paints the company in a favourable or neutral light.

IE. If I pour scorn on British Airways, nobody adds their 'two-penny-worth'. If I mention Raphaels Bank, Qatar Airways or Nortours in a favourable light, readers queue up to denounce them.

It's easy to understand why, and easy to do. Until now individual consumers have had little or no voice for their complaints. Now suddenly they do. If you feel you've been ripped off, wouldn't you want to shout as loud as you can? All you have to do is use a search engine to hunt for your target's name in blogs and forums, and post your complaint.

PR man, Neil McLean, is often warning companies to be aware of their online image in the new world of Web 2.0. I guess this is one of the reasons why.

01 May 2008

Bradt Travel Guide to Iraq - unexplained

Bradt Travelguide to Iraq, 2nd editionHow frustrating! I was sitting in my car listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning feeling very sorry for the peeps at Bradt Travelguides as a rare opportunity for good publicity on primetime national radio was flushed down the toilet.

Bradt have just updated their guide to Iraq, which they first published in 2002, a few months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It was a bad interview (at 8.51am if you want to listen to it) that never got off the ground. Sarah Montague never moved on from her first and pretty much only question: variations on: "is it a guide for tourists?". The author, Karen Dabrowska, just got hopelessly bogged down in a dour academic explanation of the subject matter.

So the audience never really got a feel for the fact that this was a timely book from a publisher that has a reputation for covering off-the-beaten-track destinations, and that it was never intended to be a practical tourist guide, more a sort of stocktaking inventory of what lay in the cradle of civilisation between the Tigris and the Euphrates....before the Americans started bombing it.

Bradt Travelguide to Iraq, 1st editionNor was it explained that far from being a failure in terms of sales - something you might expect for a guidebook aimed at non-existant tourists - it sold very well, and there is anecdotal evidence that many copies were taken to Iraq in the hands of military personel, security services and NGOs. (A case of: "Wait a minute gunner. Before we put a tank round into that minaret, let me just check the Bradt guide to see if it is a historic monument!")

The publication of the 1st edition triggered a certain amount of respect and admiration from the travel and publishing trades for Hilary Bradt and her team. Sadly
Karen Dabrowska's interview made them look ridiculous.