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:



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:



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:



Introduction to Flight Reviews: 7 hours stuck in a Delta Airline airplane

30 06 2007

Delta Airlines 6499We are now quite familiar with customer-written hotel reviews; we also know about the trendy use of video reviews of hotels but what about reviews of flights?!

Yesterday I stumbled upon an incredible amateur video that made it to the top #20 of the most watched video of Youtube. The statistics speak for themselves:

Views: 76,062
Comments: 468
Favorited: 175

Robert McKee took a Delta flight (n°6499) and got stuck on tarmac during 7 hours straight.

[youtube R06dAgpmmbg]

Fortunately, he had a video recording device (a lot of batteries) and enough know-how to edit and post this video to the Consumerist Blog.

The same way, I thought of blogging my last trip to Barcelona (with a connection in Rome); it was an Alitalia flight planned at 7pm from Nice. The flight was delayed, re-scheduled at 11:45pm, then delayed again to finally be cancelled around 1h20am. My flight finally got scheduled 24 hours later. It got cancelled twice! After the first cancellation, a voice quickly came out of the airport speakers saying:

Airplane on tarmac

“We will try to repair the airplane with the help of Air France’ staff; Alitalia technicians will be sending instructions by phone from Rome to the technicians located at Nice airport, so they can repair the airplane.”

Priceless! I twittered it but unfortunately I did not have any good audio or video recording devices to record this.

We all have our own stories of bad luck while traveling, but thanks to the Web 2.0 user generated content, customers are now capable of getting a worldwide audience to denounce bad (or excellent) comercial practices. Airlines too, should care about what they say to their customers and how they treat them as information is spreading fast, otherwise it will be published on hundreds of blogs (including the famous blog of Robert Scoble) …

Share and Enjoy:



Loic Le Meur interviews the CEO of Trivop

21 05 2007

Here is an interesting interview of Thomas Owadenko that Loic Le Meur just uploaded on his blog. Thomas is the CEO of the new travel 2.0 site called Trivop.


[vpod.tv loiclemeur/200710]

Trivop.com is a very good example of a good use of web 2.0 in the travel industry. It is a platform of video reviews of hotels (located in Europe and then in the future in the US).Like I said in the past, the future of hotel reviews is strongly connected to the future of online video; we previously saw the impact of a simple video uploaded on youtube to report a poor hotel room in Madrid. We also saw Tripadvisor launched a video uploading feature on their website to follow this (hotel) trend.

Trivop

Now we have a dedicated website only for hotels which combined a mashup of Google maps, Tripadvisor text reviews and videos generated by hoteliers and guests.In the video Thomas says that it will be focused on hotels for the first 3 years, Trivop does not have a real competitor since there is no other 100% similar site. However it might somehow compete with videos of websites like Youtube, Google Video, DailyMotions etc. and also with sites like www.travelistic.com that have a wider approach and publish video content for everything related to travel.

When Trivop has been launched at the beginning of April 2007, it already had filmed and uploaded about 170 videos of hotels. Trivop will also intend to create a marketplace community where video producers could meet the demand for video of hoteliers.

Ceo Trivop - Thomas OwadenkoDuring the interview Thomas says that not only the hotelier can upload a video but also the guest. As of today I have not been able to find a video generated by a guest, but only video “ordered” by hoteliers, with a very good editing by the way. The only negative comment I would make is that there is no way you can control the playback of the video other than using the pause button. Videos are played sequentially (divided into segments: lobby/standard room/suite etc) just as if you were watching plain old television. When deciding what hotel I want to book, I have a limited available time for making my choice. I need to compare hotel prices, hotels reviews and so on; watching each segment (of about 50sec to 1min40) without having the choice to fast forward the video is time consuming.

In my opinion the challenge for Trivop will be to generate revenue by proposing their services as filmmakers for hoteliers while they offer a free platform for guests to upload their “videos reviews” that could criticize and hurt their own clients.

Anyway I found that the concept of Trivop is innovative and useful for travellers and I wish them the best of success.

Share and Enjoy:



Looking for a Dopplr.com invitation (offering Joost invitations!)

2 05 2007

There is a lot of buzz for a new travel website called Dopplr; buzz is mainly coming from the “web 2.0 blogosphere”, if I may call it this way. Unfortunately, I am not able to give you a lot of details concerning the new website as I have not received an invitation yet. (my email can be found in the contact section of this blog).

What is dopplr?

Dopplr

“Dopplr is an online service for frequent travellers. It was created by an international team of world travellers as a tool for our own use. We liked it so much that we decided to open it up to our global friends. If you travel more than five times a year and have friends who do as well, then Dopplr is for you. How does Dopplr work? It lets you share your future travel plans with a group of trusted fellow travelers whom you have chosen. It also reminds you of friends and colleagues who live in the cities you’re planning to visit. You can use the service with your personal computer and mobile phone.”

joostOn the other hand I have received today an invitation to try Joost (former Venice Project) and I’m willing to invite to Joost anybody that could get me an invitation to Dopplr.com (or to the new Babelgum.com).

Please post a comment with your email if you can help, I’ll try to do my best to invite you as well and to review Dopplr for Blogontravel.com’s readers.

By the way if you need a Joost invitation and you don’t have a Dopplr account, it does not matter, I have plenty of Joost invitations to give away!

UPDATE: I have receive 3 invites for Dopplr.com: Thank you v. much!

UPDATE 09/06: If you want to get a free invitates to Bablegum, go there:

Free Babelgum invites for my fellow readers:

Share and Enjoy: