29 April 2009

New Deal for travel writers?

Back in January, the political editor of the New Statesman, Martin Bright, wrote a piece recognising the way that Roosevelt's 'New Deal' in the thirties sponsored not just public infrastructure projects, but arts & culture projects too. He argued that Gordon Brown should be doing the same.

The paragraph that caught my eye was this...

Meanwhile, the Federal Art Project conducted classes attended by 60,000 people a week and produced 234,000 works of art; the Federal Music Project gave 4,400 musical performances a month, with an average monthly attendance of three million people, and the Federal Theatre put on 1,813 plays. The Federal Writers' Project produced guidebooks to the American states and nearly 200 books and pamphlets. It also collated a collection of oral histories including the narratives of the last living slaves. Britain's leading expert on the New Deal, Professor Anthony Badger of Cambridge University, said: "The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was based on the principle that there was no point in putting unemployed writers to work digging roads. They were ridiculed at the time, and there were some ludicrous projects, but there were also some remarkable achievements."

Bright's article has been picked up by numerous intellectuals, media and politicians - including a couple of ministers and my local MP, Lynne Featherstone, who was talking about it yesterday in the Commons - and there is now something of a 'New Deal of the Mind' bandwagon ... and a Facebook group !

The reason I mention it is that freelance travel writers (my colleagues in the BGTW) have faced a double whammy recently with work paying less or drying up completely as the internet muscles in on traditional media readership & ad revenues, and now the recession. 

The New Deal of the Mind is a project they should be watching closely because it could provide some new hope, training and perhaps new direction for many of them.

16 April 2009

U.S. travel marketing decisions made by visa schedulers


You have to laugh! 

The mighty U.S. Travel Association, all those State Tourist Offices, all those PR companies... all busily working away to promote the USA in the UK media, and when it comes down to it the person who actually makes the strategic marketing decision on whether to host a journalist.....is a bottom-feeder in a Glasgow call centre who schedules visa appointments at the embassy!

An extremely experienced and influential travel journalist tells me they were recently denied an i-visa interview because their commission was "not important enough".

Any Americans in the travel trade listening? I really think you guys need to get your act together!

Phone back if you read this

Duh! I've done it again!

Travel-Lists.co.uk is an independent online travel directory. It is not a travel agency.

So, there is no reason why anyone should phone for travel advice. But they do, sometimes, and I really don't mind (assuming I'm not too busy). 

These calls are pretty rare and they come out of the blue. Like today's. 

A woman phoned. She's going out to the far east for a break and while she's there, having a medical operation on her foot, which she has arranged independently. She's got medical insurance to cover the treatment at a clinic in Penang, Malaysia, but she wants travel insurance for the rest of the trip... which, of course she can't get without declaring her medical situation, and 99.9% of travel insurance companies simply don't have a tick box for that. (In 'Little Britain' voice: "computer say no"!)

Caught un-prepared, I gave her a few lame suggestions for agents that might be a bit more flexible, and that was that.

Of course, it got me thinking and 15 mins later I had identified two companies who specialise in exactly her situation.... but I have no idea who she is and 'last number recall'  doesn't work.

It's so frustrating, knowing I have the answer for her.

Note to self: I really, really must get their number next time I get one of those calls!

09 April 2009

Bluehost.com is trying to ignore us

An American company called Bluehost.com is hosting a copyright thief and ignoring our complaints.

See details.

Does anyone have any ideas how to get them to shut down the rogue site? 


UPDATE (14/04/09): Bluehost have now been in touch and sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) form. We'll see how this goes.

My personal luggage solution... perhaps

LiveLuggageHehe. I've been sent a press release about powered luggage (which is appearing at the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham's NEC on 17 Apr, BTW)....


I think not!

07 April 2009

Travel-Lists updates

Still unable to update Travel-Lists. Hostway have had problems with FTP on their windows platform since Saturday. 

I'm not the only one  suffering. I've seen tweets from other webmasters bemoaning their inability to get on their websites.

Sigh :(

06 April 2009

Explore - great holidays, not so hot on the bags!

I took my big Explore bag to the Alps last week. It coped nicely with all the clothes & ski gear needed for both me and my boy (Joe, 13).

But when I got back to St-no-bloody-luggage-trolleys-Pancras and had to carry it the whole length of the Eurostar platform (394 m /431 yds according to wikipedia), plus the customs hall and half the terminal, to the taxi rank... I nearly earned the heart attack & pulled muscles that I'd managed to avoid for 7 days on the ski slopes!

Note to Explore's Branded Goods Manager: order bags with wheels next time!

Lesson for today - don't go away

Grrr, I've been away for one week and now that I'm back with lots of updating needed on Travel-Lists.co.uk.... I can't!

My ftp login is not being accepted by my host (Hostway.co.uk). My emails to tech support are not being answered, and nor is the tech support phone line (engaged or "out of order").

I'd also like to update the site with a warning, because I've arrived back to an email informing me that some little shit called Mingchao Wang (if you believe Nominet's whois) has cloned the whole travel-lists site and is passing it off as his at www.6886.co.uk.

Welcome back :(