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Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Friday, 11 January 2008
Fancy a change from the ice hotels...
In the middle of Salar the Uyuni, a huge saltflat in the South of Bolivia you find this special hotel. It's entirey made out of salt, including the chairs, tables and beds.
You are officially directed....DON'T LICK THE WALLS
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
1. Don’t use Google
2. Use kayak and skyscanner first
3. Then check out the online travel agents
www.holidayreviews.info can save you big time! Its got all of these and more all in one place.
1. Don’t use Google. Using Google is a big mistake – its the wrong place to start – too many irrelevant results – you need more focus. Sorry Mr. Google
2. Use kayak and skyscanner first
I would also have recommended sidestep but as of Dec’07 they are merging with kayak but are to keep their brand name.
Both kayak and skyscanner are true search engines and have excellent tools to help you get the best deals including when its cheapest to fly and should I buy now or wait?
3. Then check out the online travel agents
One of the most popular places to look for cheap flights is
Expedia.co.uk is a great site and has 10% of the visit market in the UK but it’s not the best place to search for airfares. Why? – because it doesn’t use the budget carriers EasyJet or Ryanair, or any charter flights.
Opodo, Lastminute and Ebookers are popular too but they’re not search engines. They’ll find you a flight but it won’t necessarily be cheapest.
Cheapflights.co.uk is one of the 10 most visited travel sites in the UK and promotes itself as a “Price comparison for cheap flights & travel”. Actually it really only provides a series of links to partner sites such as flydeals , ebookers, and hot4holidays . To compare fares, you need to click on each “partner” link individually and wait as it opens on a new page – so all in all not the best.
Travelsupermarket.co.uk is a better site. It searches the pages of other sites to find the best deals and includes the no-frills and charter flights but only flights departing from UK but again its not perfect.
So how do you know whether a comparison site is checking every available flight? Simply - you don’t. So it pays to check fares at two or three.
How much could I save?….Well I checked out return flights from Heathrow to Naples going out on 1st April ’08 returning on the 8th.
Expedia tempted me with £131 for the return trip but when I clicked the “Choose this flight” I got a bit of a shock when I got the message saying “We're sorry, the price of this flight has changed from £130.79 to £443.94”! and it had stop-overs in Rome on the way out and Milan on the way back! So - sod that!
Travelsupermarket confirmed £122.50 using ebookers flying Alitalia with a couple of hours stop-over in Rome both ways – not too bad.
Skyscanner had me salivating a £113 return with a direct flight out and just one stop over in Hamburg on the way back. Sadly, when it checked the final leg from Hamburg to Heathrow it was no longer available (anyhow it didn’t actually land in Heathrow until Wednesday morning) – close but definitely no cigar.
Kayak showed me a direct flight using Easyjet for £144. So I clicked through to the Easyjet site and took off the automatically included insurance and could book for £143.
So, in this case, if money was tight and I didn’t mind the stop-overs Travelsupermarket came up with the best deal but this time Easyjet via kayak would be the one I would choose.
As ever - it pays to shop around!
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Independent travellers and travel DIYers can squeeze even more savings by getting cheap airport transfers. I compared seven of the top sites for a fictional one-way transfer from Faro airport (Portugal) to Albufiera on the 30th November for my family of four.
Check out how they fared on ... www.holidayreviews.info
Monday, 27 August 2007
Travel sites on everyone's list
I took six "Best Travel Sites" lists and analysed them to try to get a " Best of the best" list.
First off, this didn't turn out to be a "Top-10" thing - oh no - nothing as simple as that.
The Guardian had a very constrained list of 7 best sites, while Kiplinger though 35 was about the right number but the Times had a whopping 131. (Is that really being selective?)
So in no particular order...
Tripadvisor.com was more or less on everyone’s list. With its often quoted figure of five million user-generated reviews it can usually be relied upon to give a fair approximation of how good a hotel or resort actually is. One criticism leveled at it though was that the quality of reviews perhaps doesn't match the quantity.
Kayak.com too seemed a firm favourite. Kayak is what they call a "meta-search" engine or more simply put it’s a search tool that sends your query to many other search tools at the same time . It scours over 120 different websites and then compares their prices so it can save you a lot of time and effort. The UK site though only does flights while the US version does the lot.
Priceline.comNaming your own price is what has made Priceline famous. You name your price and they pick the flight, hotel or rental car. Today, with the abundance of airline travel sites, most online travel veterans use Priceline.com for one thing and thats hotels. Their latest offering called Pricebreakers provides access to last-minute travel deals hand-picked by their travel experts who they say are tough and only accept the absolute best deals on the market for that day.
Seatguru.comListing 40 commercial airlines, SeatGuru.com provides seating maps and colour codes the seats - green is a good seat, yellow means be aware, and you don’t want red.. Once you select your airline and aircraft, you’ll be able to see just where each seat is on the floor plan, as well as which in-flight amenities are available (including video, AC power and Internet access - wow! - did you know that was possible?).
Wayn.comAn acronym for "Where Are You Now?" a travel and lifestyle social networking community website in the UK. WAYN is present in 220 countries and membership has grown from nothing to 1.5m members in the UK (and 8m globally) in just four years. Wayn helps you to keep track of all your contacts from around the world and make new friends based on where you are now, where you have been and where you are going!
Igougo.comLaunched in June 2000 Igougo has 350,000 members, 300,000 reviews, 200,000 photos and boasts several travel site awards. Igougo guides write detailed journals about recent trips so its a good place to browse if you're seeking inspiration for your next holiday. Anyone can sign up to write a travel journal, and writing earns you points that are redeemable for gift cards and frequent flier miles.
More info:Kiplinger • ConsumerSearch • Luggageonline • TimesOnline • Guardian.com • Travolution
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
now featuring geobeats - excellent destination videos
GeoBeats is an interactive media company whose mission is to inform travelers about international destinations through the use of video.
During their own international travels, they found that trustworthy information about the destinations was not easily available. As a result, they are changing the way travelers learn about international destinations.
Their free short videos on international destinations highlight history, culture, shopping, food, nightlife, lifestyle, and other aspects of interest to travelers.
Their videos are created by professional filmmakers and have a "down to earth" feel. They are well researched and feature interesting hosts who add a unique and personal flavor. This all adds up to consistent quality and reliability and a fun and reliable way to learn about your next international destination.
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
55% of internet users book their holidays directly online
Research conducted by Nielsen/NetRatings on behalf of marketing agency Harvest Digital and pan-European advertising network Adviva across the Adviva network reveals that 55% of internet users book their holidays directly online. Only 7%research and buy their holidays from travel agents on the high street and 1% book on Teletext. 9% of internet users book their holidays on the high street after researching online and a further 17 per cent research holidays online then book over the telephone proving that the internet is the most important channel for researching and buying holidays.
Two thirds of internet users take two or more holidays a year.
Silver surfers are enjoying more regular holidays and late bookings online A beach holiday is the most common type of holiday booked online followed by a long-haul trip, cruise or fly-drive whilst activity holidays are more popular on the high street. Two thirds of online shoppers usually take two or more major holidays (one week or more) a year and a quarter have three or more holidays. Older people are particularly likely to take regular holidays with 23% of people aged 55 and over taking three holidays per year compared with just 16% of internet users overall. This group is also likely to book a holiday at the last minute: 28% of people aged over 55 booked their holiday a month or less before departure, compared with 25% of under 24's and 18% of internet users overall.
More than three quarters of holidays now researched or booked online
Fiona McKinnon , European Corporate Development Director at Adviva comments, "Our research reveals the degree at which the internet has changed our traditional means of booking and researching our holidays. The most noticeable shift is from the high street with more than three quarters of holidays now researched or booked online. This is reflected in the high number of people booking late deals and taking more holidays than the average British consumer. The easiest, quickest and most responsive way for travel brands to influence internet users in their holiday decision making process is to advertise online."
Consumers trust user-generated reviews the most when booking holidays
Mike Teasdale from Harvest Digital adds, "Consumers are telling us that word of mouth is very important in terms of choosing a potential holiday. In the past, that would have been a casual chat over a pint: now it seems that the online equivalent is sites like TripAdvisor.com where an entire community are posting tips and recommendations about good places to go." Online travel booking and research is even more common for 25 - 34 year olds, and for people booking within four weeks of their departure date. On both cases 68% of people would book directly on the Internet. The survey also revealed that three quarters of people book their own holidays with no major differences in the travel booking habits of men and women.