WTM, Travel Bloggers and their Avatars (1) – Debbie Hindle

I saw Debbie (see BGB and @BGBcomms ) in action at WTM and took a shot behind about 200 people in a full social media session from which I cut out this portrait.

Debbie works in Travel PR and is one of still few PR types who is actively engaging with travel bloggers and social media.

I’ve bugged many people online that they should use an avatar that you can recognize from afar and that enables you to identify the person in question if you see the avatar in a stream or on a wall and moreover that you will be able to recognize them when you meet them in real life. An avatar is a marketing tool for your own brand!

This is the portrait Debbie uses for her Twitter account:

A wonderful portrait and from this you would no doubt recognize her if you met her in real life. However avatars are very small and avatars are in people’s mind when they try to discern someone they know in a room full of people they do not know very well.

If you compare the portraits now cropped to avatar size, wouldn’t you agree with me that the color portrait is far better tham the black and white one? You may use this one if you wish, Debbie!

Update
About half a year after this post Debbie took my advice and changed the Black and White Avatar for a Colored one.

Last edited by GJE on July 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm

5 Tips for Visiting Vienna in Luxury

Vienna-XMass-MarketThe Rathaus (City Hall) Christkindlmarkt (Chrismas Market) in Vienna

1 General
Over 40 years I visit Vienna almost annually. Hence I may have visited it over 40 times already. I may be biased, but for me Vienna is the number 1 city destination, especially around Christmas. It has a lot of Old World charm and elegance.
When I checked my Vienna category here, I noticed I had only one post labeled correctly with Vienna, while I have mentioned it in over 30 posts.
So it’s about time to cure the huge omission of not having written about Vienna in detail with tips and so. As one of my travel blogging friends will heading there I’ll rather do it now than later, to be able to help her a bit. Because I have so much material, it certainly will take several posts.
As Vienna has one of the best tourist sites at Wien.info, you should always check it out before you visit Vienna. You can even link through very easily to order theater tickets online or make restaurant reservations via its Search and Book widget at the right.
It may also be an idea to look for free audio/video tours at Itunes. I found this one, but haven’t checked it out yet.

City Airport Train (CAT)The Vienna City Airport Train or CAT

2 Getting There
Traveling by air you’ll most likely arrive at Vienna’s Airport which is located south of the Danube river between the little town Schwechat and the village Fischamend and only approximately 15 miles due east from the city.
From there the best connection with the city center is the City Airport Train (CAT) follow the signs. Traveling with the Cat you’ll end up in the city center and if your hotel is in the city center (roughly in the neighborhood of the Ring), it is somehow easy to reach walking from the CAT city terminal. It is also good to know that you can check your luggage in there for your return flight. Especially handy when you have a late flight back and want to do a bit of last minute shopping. You can check your luggage in in the morning and don’t have to return to your hotel. Before you get on board of the CAT it is maybe handy to buy a public transport pass for several days.

Vienna tram with Christmas decoration at the KarlsplatzEven the trams have Christmas decorations in Vienna

3 Public Transport
Vienna has a tightly knit net of bus and tram lines. As it spreads across the city like a spiderweb, it is not always easy to find the right connections.
Vienna is one of the last cities that has realized a small metro network which means it is fast and efficient. When I’m not using my car I use the metro, or U Bahn in German.

Style Hotel Vienna with Café CentralLeft Café Central, Fiakr in the middle and the entrance of the Style Hotel in Vienna right

4 Hotels
Austrian Hotels are usually very good and Vienna has many good and also more affordable hotels, but my favorite hotel is the Radisson Sas Style hotel. It is right in the center, two steps away from the “Goldene Meile” (the Golden Mile) shopping area of the Kohlmarkt and from the Graben. It is close to the Royal Palace and various theaters and museums. It is opposite Café Central where you can have a better breakfast for less than that in the Hotel. When you are on a shopping spree, you can drop your finds underway while shopping. It is not too big with 75 rooms and the personnel is very friendly. I find it really nice to hear the “clippediclack” of the horse hoofs and their echoes through the streets early in the morning, because one of Vienna’s great tourist attractions, the Viennese Fiakrs or horse carts that do the tourist routes from the Stephans Dom, always come along this hotel on their tours.

Café Landtmann in ViennaLandtmann

Sacher Torte!

Elephant Decorating at Demel ViennaElephant Decorating at Demel Vienna

5 Coffee, Coffee, Coffee and Cake!
Vienna is all about Coffee and Cake. They practically invented the Café and have maintained the old Café traditions throughout. A Konditorei is more of a cake selling shop or pastry shop where they serve coffee and tea and lunch as well. Usually the Konditoreis are less relaxed than the cafés, but usually they offer better quality (the ultimate quality) cakes.
Some of my favorites are:

  • Café Central off course
  • Restaurant Café Landtmann, just opposite the City Hall.
  • Hotel Sacher. It has its own café and on your first visit to the city it is a must to taste their very own world famous Sacher Torte.
  • At Dehmel you should try and find a place in the back (you’ll have to go through a door in the back of the shop with coffee bar) in front of the huge glass separation with the kitchen where you can follow the decorating of the wonderful cakes they make.
  • Oberlaa, Neuer Markt 16, Konditorei & Restaurant is one of our faves as well.
  • In summer you shouldn’t forget to visit the Café in the Gloriette, a pavilion in the Garden of Schloss Schoenbrunn.

More to follow.

Josiah Mackenzie at BTO

Buy Tourism Online 2010 – Josiah Mackenzie presentation

View more PowerPoint from josiahmackenzie

Josiah Mackenzie at BTO

It was a busy week on the travel and social media front. First I would like to share with you the keynote of my blogging friend Josiah McKenzie @Hmarketinghelp of Hotel Marketing Strategies. at the Buy Tourism Online (BTO) conference in Florence. It’s an instructive introduction for hoteliers why and how they should be involved in social media.

Update

Originally I’d embedded a great video here, but that sadly disappeared. Hence I’ve embedded Josiah’s slideshow.

Last edited by GJE on March 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Scary Google

How Does Google Work?

If you click this or the image, it is better readable.

There is a lot of speculation online whether Google will dive into travel and what will happen then. But I say: Google is already heavy in travel. A big chunk of their income is generated by OTA’s (Online Travel Agents) who pay hefty to Google for their adwords and ppc’s. Google is scary!

Infographic by PPC Blog

Iceland Volcanic Ash Disrupts European Air Travel on an Unprecedented Scale

Hazardous volcanic ash
I captured the above photo from a series of three documentary videos on Youtube [That since publication have disappeared]. The picture and the videos show the dangers of volcanic ash for air travel best: It abrazes not only the paint, but also the aluminum of the aircraft heavily.

The dangers are:

  1. Pilots can’t notice it, because, apart from areas near an eruption, it is very fine. Even near an eruption pilots can’t notice it on on board flight radar, because there is not enough moist in a cloud of volcanic ash
  2. Volcanic ash is very abrasive as the above photo from the tail of flight BA 009 shows: Almost all paint was stripped from it.
  3. when sucked into a jet motor, it can cause immense damage and cause the motor to stop. On 1982 flight 009 over Indonesia all four jets stopped and luckily the pilots were able to restart the engines when they had flown out of the ash cloud and prevent a crash..


The beauty of the eruption that causes all the problems:
This is a fantastic photo of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland by Örvar-Atli that causes a huge cloud of volcanic ash to spread all over Europe that is bringing almost all air trafic to a stand still as of yesterday. It will continue today and it wouldn’t surprise me if it will continue for a couple of more days.

It is a very wise decision to ground almost all air traffic in view of the above indicated hazards.

Ash influences hotel stays
Guests from Canada are stuck in London and had to cancel their stay at my hotel last minute. Do I charge them a late cancellation fee? Off course not.

Commercially viable? Maybe, maybe not.

I could claim a late cancellation fee and have them claim their loss from their travel insurance company. However I wouldn’t like to add that as an extra burden to them while they are already burdened with all the uncertainties and changes of plan due to these extra ordinary circumstances

..and you know what? I expect my guests to be and think a bit like I do myself. I hate to claim something from an insurance company, because I believe I should only claim when there is an extraordinary cost I cannot reasonably bear myself. I was once bailed out by a travel insurance company when I was stuck with a car in a foreign country that could not be repaired that country. Not only did they repatriate my car to The Netherlands and paid for the car repair, they also let me continue our travels with a rented car that I delivered here in The Netherlands. Almost no loss of holiday pleasures.

And our guest wrote me: “Thank you so much! When we rebook our trip you will be our first choice to stay with. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kindness.”