Travel Guidebook or the Web?

Seth Kugel, the Frugal Traveller at the New York Times, asked,  Are travel guidebooks still worth paying for?. This appeared in the Globe and Mail on June 24, 2014 but was in the NYTimes on December 29, 2013 as Planning a Trip: Guidebook vs the Web.

Sales of travel guides have dropped 45% since 2006 in the United States. Travellers, one presumes, are using the Internet for planning accommodations, restaurants, and places to see. Is this satisfactory?

Kugel mentions many good tools for finding a hotel room (The Hotel Guru), getting reviews, planning a trip (Stay.com), and learning the history and culture (Wikivoyage.org). But this all takes time – his point. Maybe there is too much choice, and user reviews could be wrong.

There was one very good argument for the book – “A guidebook means an extra pound or so in your bag. But it’s all in one place, doesn’t run out of batteries or go out of range or use international data and is unlikely to be ripped out of your hand by a thief.”

Searching for Place at Pinterest

Pinners at Pinterest don’t  just do food and fashions.  “There are now more than one billion travel Pins on Pinterest, more than 300 unique countries and territories are represented in the system, and more than four million Place Boards have been created by Pinners.”  Pinterest has added a search that will help us to quickly find those places.

Introducing a faster place search, Pinterest blog (Jun 13)

It starts with the all-purpose search box – enter the place name (Bruce Peninsula in the screenshot below). Pinterest can help you identify the country if needed.  You may also search on  a site in that place – such as city hall san francisco. Adjust the search options so that you are looking at 1) Boards, and 2) Place Boards.  Voila – the boards will give you the grand tour.

Searching for place at Pinterest

Place Boards at Pinterest about the Bruce Peninsula (in Ontario)

Bing and TripAdvisor

Great – use Bing for travel searches and get TripAdvisor content.

Bing Integrates TripAdvisor Tools, Content Into Search Results, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Nov 21)

Bing will now display TripAdvisor reviews and photos as well as TripAdvisor’s hotel price comparison tool in SERPs. TripAdvisor’s full content library including restaurants, hotels and attractions will reportedly be available to Bing.

For example, on my search for Palm Springs, Bing gives me:

  • vistpalmsprings.com
  • wikipedia
  • tripadvisor with access to over 47,000 reviews

Google has:

  • visitpalmsprings.com
  • www.ci.palm-springs.ca.us
  • visitpalmsprings.com – again
  • wikipedia
  • and in 7th spot tripadvisor

Good as the placement is in Bing, I will likely search tripadvisor directly.

Travel through Google Maps

New guide from MakeUseOf shows how to use Google Maps for travel: decide the itinerary, figure out where to stay, consider transit, and generally explore.

Be Your Own Travel Guide: 7 Tips To Travel Smarter With Google Maps by Ryan Dube, MakeUseOf  (Sept 26)

Google Maps provides solutions for all the issues you face when planning a major trip. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the ways you can use Google Maps to plan every aspect of your next big trip, starting with hotel reservations, all the way to predicting the weather, and planning out your transit routes. Once you’re done here, there will be no unfortunate surprises left to ruin your dream vacation.

Expedia will run Travelocity’s search

Expedia will be the search engine for Travelocity – similar to the Bing / Yahoo deal. It’s being called a partnership, but it might be a merger.

How Expedia Took Out Travelocity by Justin Bachman, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (Aug 26)

Matt McGee at Search Engine Land predicts that Travelocity will become an Expedia affiliate, and I predict it will wither away.

Travelocity-Expedia Deal Gives Travel Search Its Yahoo-Bing Moment

Consolidation in online travel industry

The online travel industry is consolidating. This New York Times article – Fewer, Bigger Travel Sites (Apr 29) – reports that Priceline is buying Kayak (air and hotel), and Expedia acquired the German Trivago (hotel search).

Current rankings:

“In March, Expedia ranked second after TripAdvisor, with Priceline third among the top 10 online travel agencies and search sites, for the “number of unique visitors,” according to comScore, which tracks visitors to travel and other types of Web sites. In March, TripAdvisor had nearly 20.95 million visitors, followed closely by Expedia with 20.92 million, and Priceline had 17.45 million. Kayak.com Network ranked eighth with 8.94 million visitors, with Trivago Sites ranking 248th with 142,000. Online travel agencies make money through online advertising more than through transactions, Mr. Harteveldt said. “

More about Frommers

Why did Google sell Frommer’s back to Arthur Frommer? Because it had already milked it for social media contacts.

Google sold Frommer’s Travel — but kept all the social media data by Jeff John Roberts, paidcontent.org (Apr 9)

As Skift reported Tuesday, Google handed over the company to founder Arthur Frommer sans social media accounts. In other words, Google is keeping all of the followers that Frommer’s accrued on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. These thousands — or more likely millions — of accounts are valuable because they represent a huge collection of serious travel enthusiasts.

Frommers independent again

Good news – Arthur Frommer, long-time travel guide, has acquired rights to the Frommer travel content from Google according to the Boston GLobe.

Arthur Frommer gets Frommer brand back from Google

The whole affairs was bizarre from the beginning. Google bought from Wiley, supposedly to support its own entry into travel, and then didn’t use particularly well. Good that it is back in the hands of Arthur and daughter, Pauline, and all their devoted readers, and out of Google Plus or wherever Google put it.

“Google confirmed in an email Wednesday night that the brand was returned to its founder, but added that the travel content it had acquired from Frommer’s and Wiley had been integrated into various Google services such as Google Plus.”