10 things that annoy me when booking holidays online

4 04 2008

Today I read a great post on Travelrants called Ten things that annoy me about booking holidays online. Darren made a list of 10 things that annoy him while booking holidays online.

It’s clearly the kind of feedback/information people that work for Online Travel Agencies or Hotel Portals would love to gather from their visitors. That’s why I have decided to add my 2 cent and make my own list of things that really annoy me while booking online. Hopefully other bloggers will continue the discussion and post their own list on their blog! That would be VERY interesting!

Annoyed traveler

Here goes my list:

  • Being obligated to create a member account before I can get all the details of a (potential) booking.
  • Searching for hours for the cancellation fees of a hotel before I complete a booking.
  • Not knowing the total price of a booking before I filled out any personal information.
  • Not being able to use a booking engine with Firefox!
  • Promotions that never match my holidays periods.
  • Getting an expired sessions of a search when being idle for a short period of time.
  • Chosing to book a flight, filling out ALL the personal information asked (including credit card number) and getting an error message saying it’s not available anymore (but still offered and listed on-site and on all travel meta search engines).
  • Browsing a little deeper to know the services a hotel is offering, and not being able to get back to the result page I came from.
  • Picking an available hotel room, and discovering that was not a real time displayed availability and that an email that has been sent to the hotelier, who replies room is not available anymore for this period of the year.
  • Having to query availability/rates twice. Once for displaying the system cache of available hotels of the site, and another time for confirming the hotel is really available at that rate!

That’s my list, I hope travel bloggers will follow that “10 annoying things” thread and add their personal opinions. If you do so please add a trackback to this post so we can follow you.

Professionals are, of course, invited to comment my list.

Share and Enjoy:



Google Chatback: New functionality added to this blog

2 04 2008

I’ve always wanted this feature for “Blog on travel” since Google launched “Google Talk”! On our Chatback page our readers are now able to request a live chat with us.

There is no need to install Google Talk as your chat client is your browser (firefox, opera, internet explorer, safari). If we are signed in to our Google talk account, the badge will show a green icon. Clicking on the badge will launch a real time chat window. It generally takes a few seconds for us to accept the chat then it goes like this:

Google Chatback system

The conversations are private and only one-to-one, so other visitors won’t be able to read them. Do not hesitate to say hello if I’m available.

- For those who want to add this free feature to their own blog (or website!), first they need to register to Google Talk and then they need to create a Google Talk chatback badge. Copy the script and paste it to the page of your choice. You’re done. Enjoy.

 PS: Blackberry owners (some of my friends and readers) might be interested in downloading the Google Talk app that blackberry released.

Share and Enjoy:



Invitations to Netvibes Ginger!

4 03 2008

I have been among the lucky ones who were invited to test Netvibes ‘ new version called Netvibes Ginger Beta (the RSS feed reader).

Netvibes Ginger

I am an early adopter of Netvibes, and I think it’s the best RSS readers available; I have enjoyed a lot the new features Ginger Beta has added and apparently I am now able to share my excitement with Blog on travel’s readers before they release the new version officially:

Indeed, as a reward to my loyalty toward Netvibes, today I received this email:

 

  • Thank you for making the Netvibes Ginger beta program such
    a success!We are about to open Ginger to every Netvibes user and want to let
    you know so you can be one of the first to invite your friends.

Drop a nice comment on this article with your email to receive an invite for Netvibes Ginger; and please give your feedback concerning those (great) new features once you have been invited.

Netvibes searching tool

PS: Click here to to add Blog On Travel to Ginger.

PS2: Tip: Click here to add Netvibes as a default engine to the built-in Web feed reader of Firefox 2

Share and Enjoy:



Introducing Domegos: A New Web 2.0 Vacation Rentals Directory

28 01 2008

Wandering around the internet, I was searching for 2 different things at the same time: a hotel for a romantic weekend getaway (with our lovely dog!) and a new apartment to rent. I suddenly asked myself: “Why not renting a vacation home instead of booking the usual same type of hotels (those few hotels that still accept dogs) for our long romantic week end?

DomegosActually I know quite a lot of people that work in the Real Estate industry (basically intermediaries between owners and renters), and I am often amazed to see that while everything goes 2.0, real estate is no exception. My online research for the right property made me discover Domegos, which is a vacation rentals directory that aims to connect owners and renters. It is an alpha version as they just launched but it is very promising.

Curiously what first grabbed my attention were all the advantages for vacation rental owners (not real estate agencies!) to list their properties for free on this Real Estate 2.0 platform. Each property gets six pages, 14 photos (that’s quite a lot), an interactive map (via a Google Maps mash-up), customer feedback form, offer management, and an availability calendar. Not bad, isn’t it? Apparently most vacation rentals listing sites don’t have quite that breadth of tools and features.

Il Frantoio delle Grazie

Seeing that benifiting from all those features was free of charge for owners, my second thought was: there must be some type of hidden commissions that the renters would pay (me in this case!). Again, I was nicely surprised to see there are no fees whatsoever for the renters, no commission charges for mediated booking, nothing, nada!

All in all, Domegos is clearly not an intermediary in the selling process but more of a facilitator helping owners and renters to do business easily. A skilfully free vacation rentals directory. I recommend it for my (lucky) owner friends and for renters as well (try the email alert system that warn you when system matches your needs).

Share and Enjoy:



The new Tripadvisor site is online: a retail look and feel!

18 10 2007

You can have a sneak preview at the new Tripadvisor site by browsing this beta” microsite that TA globally announced today in its newsletter.

The user-generated reviews’ giant Tripavisor (part of the Expedia, Inc. family of travel companies), decided to “create a new and easier to use” site. Kristen Nicole from Mashable previously published an article saying that people have complained about the cluttered homepage of the (curent) site.

Look at those “before-after” screenshots I took and make your own opinion:

Tripadvisor before and after screenshot

A typical WEB 2.0 launch for this new version: As it has been said by Tripadvisor: It is a beta site! “Beta” means [Tripadvisor] is still polishing a few things! This beta version was first launched on the co.uk site of TA a few days ago, and it is now for everyone to REVIEW!

I have noticed myself a few mistakes in the list of countries/cities of the Europe section, like Lisbon listed under Romania(!), Rome in Latvia (!), Venice in Luxembourg (!) etc. Travolution commenters spotted those mistakes and considered that even if “it will be sorted soon” still “it reflects poorly”.

Tim Hughes thinks the beta version of Tripadvisor looks like a retail travel site. Did Tripadvisor hide the business side of their “free review site” on purpose? It’s hard to believe, as ads were everywhere in the previous version (text ad links called sponsored links and flash ads). Does Tripadvisor think it will convert better if it has the “look and feel” of a retail website (now that they are famous for being review website)? I guess so!

Take a look at a full review of this new design written by Alex (Travel UCD).

Share and Enjoy:



New spanish travel aggregator Minube.com launched today!

23 07 2007

Logo MiNube.comSurprisingly the Spanish online travel market is not saturated by the emergence of aggregation and comparison engines; there is still space for newcomer(s) to enter this segment of the online travel industry. That’s what Minube.com (that literally means “My Cloud” in Spanish) did today by launching this new flight/hotel aggregator “Minube”.

Comparador Mi nube

Minube.com referred itself as being a web 2.0 site. A simple, clean and original design with green, red and orange clouds! It uses features that made Web 2.0 sites so convenient such as the suggestion search box; as you type in a query it will display the available cities/countries/airports dynamically via some AJAX. Pretty useful when you don’t know how to spell those Spanish cities or when you don’t know the airport name of your destination.

Of course it also integrates maps from Google maps (I did not manage to see the mapping of all hotels of the first page of result on one map), and reviews (reviews are not moderated yet). The good thing is there are no reviews on the system yet, it starts from scratch. One of the problems of Tripadvisor is that they are still showing client reviews that are very old, totally outdated although the owner/management team of the hotel has changed or the hotel has been fully renovated.

Mi Nube hotels

As a traditional travel aggregator, Minube compares the prices of a lot of different travel agencies (Atrapalo, eDreams, TerminalA, MuchoViaje etc.), airlines (low cost airline such as Vueling, Clickair) or hotel portals, and shows the best price found (with no additional fees).

The page of results of a hotel search is very similar to SideStep results page, as there is a slider control to determine the “price range” that you can adjust according to your budget/needs. I did a comparison between Sidestep and Minube for the same date (last minute booking) in Barcelona and I was pretty happy of the results; specially because Minube found many more hotels with cheap rates. This is no surprise as they already work with a lot of local providers (see paragraph below).

Here is an extensive list of the hotel providers, airlines, and online travel agencies that Minube partnered with:

 

Minube Providers

All in all, after I spent 15 minutes playing with this new aggregator, I felt pretty impressed by this beta version of Minube. They start with a good design, a lot of partners (even though some are missing), and good web 2.0 functionalities and features (recent searches, travel fair, filters of travel agencies, event calendar). It definitely has its place among its Spanish competitors, HotelAdicto, Trabber, Tsales (any other I missed?). I believe they will be launching a version for the french market soon called MonNuage.fr according to what I read on their blog. Congratulations!

PS: I havent had time to try the “alert engine” but I already like the idea. I believe it is similar to what Orbitz does, by keeping searching for the price and dates you have requested and sending you an alert by email once it has been found! I’ll try this tomorrow but I needed first to share this with you.

Share and Enjoy:



US government forces a European airline to stop flying to Cuba

12 07 2007

Two days ago Mario Hidalgo, CEO of the Spanish airline “Hola Airlines , announced that Hola Airlines (Baleares Link Express SL) has been obliged by the US government to stop its operations in Cuba .

Hola AirlinesThe US Government threatened Hola Airlines via Boeing to end the service of maintenance of the Boeing aircraft belonging to the carrier. As its fleet is entirely composed of Boeing aircrafts, Hola Airlines has been forced to give up its operation in the Carribean Island overnight.

The US government applies the 1996 Helms-Burton Act that prevent non north-American countries from trading with Cuba by penalizing foreign companies.

The Helms-Burton Act was condemned by the Council of Europe, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and other U.S. allies that enjoy normal trade relations with Cuba.

Mario Hidalgo made it clear that this decision goes totally against the company’s will: “This decision is unfair, specially for Cuban people” and added he was “against US politics towards Cuba.”

Share and Enjoy: