Google Maps Integrates User Reviews (Finally)

Google yesterday announced on the Lat Long Blog
that it will begin to offer the opportunity to read and write user
generated reviews of businesses that show up in local listings in
Google Maps.

Reviews in Google Maps can now be found in a small link that
accompanies most business listings. These will join the aggregated
professional reviews that Google has traditionally pulled from various
sources.

The AJAX functionality of the new reviews feature causes a small
window to open in which users can easily write a review and designate a
rating from one to five stars. Though Google is showing up late to the
user reviews party (Yahoo! has had this for almost two years), this
feature is decidedly simpler and more intuitive than writing reviews in
Yelp, Yahoo! and others.

Link: Google Maps Integrates User Reviews (Finally).

AOL launches Travel Guides

AOL has announced the beta launch of AOL Travel Guides, an online
resource that provides information on more than 1900 national and
international locations and over 100,000 hotels.

Link: AOL launches Travel Guides.

“People are disgruntled when websites don’t remember them and their preferences”

Transat A.T. Inc., an integrated company specialising in the
organisation, marketing and distribution of holiday travel, is focusing
on educating the consumer on the value of dealing with a travel agent,
and ensuring that there is value through training and recruitment
strategies.

When it comes to critical issues related to consumers in the travel
industry, Transat Distribution’s Director of Marketing Tanya Sampson
says getting the focus off price is critical in building a brand.

Link: “People are disgruntled when websites don’t remember them and their preferences”.

Google makes steady headway in travel search market in Australia and NZ

The digital advertising market in Australia had crossed the $1billion sales barrier for the first time last year.

And search led the way, as per the Online Advertising Expenditure
Report from the Audit Bureau of Verification Services (ABVS). Search
and directories advertising shot up by 81.4 percent to $399 million,
resulting in 40 percent market share.

Link: Google makes steady headway in travel search market in Australia and NZ.

Social Nets Sit on Goldmine of Behavioral Data, Says Jupiter

Social
networking sites are fertile ground for behavioral targeting, but
publisher concern about privacy invasion is limiting growth, a
JupiterResearch analyst said today.

Discussing JupiterResearch’s
U.S. Online Advertising Forecast, analyst Kevin Heisler said social
networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have the potential to
wrench significantly more ad revenue from their audiences. However, the
keys to this un-tapped revenue, including the increased use of
behavioral targeting, are being held close to the vest by reluctant
publishers, he said.

Link: Social Nets Sit on Goldmine of Behavioral Data, Says Jupiter.

Finding Success in Social Media

Setting up profiles for
yourself or your clients on social media sites is an excellent idea.
First of all, it prevents someone else from creating a profile on the
social media site using your name. Second of all, it is great for
reputation management (more on that in a moment). Thirdly some social
media site profiles do actually pass PageRank, which you can choose to
pass back to your main site.

Social
media sites can be very effective in reputation management. Reputation
management comes into play when someone has said something negative
about you, and that negative comment is ranking highly in the search
results for your name, or your company’s name. It’s clearly not good
when this happens, but there is a way to at least partially address
this problem: create profiles for yourself on major social media sites.

Link: Finding Success in Social Media.

TripAdvisor traveler network

TripAdvisor has launched a traveler network that allows its 20 million
monthly visitors to quickly tap into their most valued resources, their
friends, to help them plan their travel more efficiently. TripAdvisor
also announced today that it now features 10 million reviews and
opinions, up from 5 million one year ago.

Link: TripAdvisor traveler network.

Hitwise Monthly Travel Category Report – May 2007

The monthly report provides Hitwise data on:

  • Top 20 websites for the past month based on visits
  • Percentage of traffic to the Travel industry online
  • Most popular search terms typed into a search engine that resulted
    in traffic to websites classified by Hitwise within the ‘Travel’
    industry.
  • Fast Movers – indicating websites which have witnessed substantial increases in rank in the online Travel industry

Analysis from LeeAnn Prescott, Hitwise director of research:
"As the weather warms and the school year winds down, parents begin
planning family getaways. The market share of US visits to the websites
of amusement parks such as Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Point and Geyser Falls
Water Park jumped in the rankings from April to May 2007. Camping was
also on the minds of travelers, with the market share of visits to
KOA.com increasing 40% from April to May 2007 to achieve a rank of
number 95 among all travel sites."

Link: Hospitality Net – Industry News – Hitwise Monthly Travel Category Report – May 2007.

HotelChatter || Omni Hotel Offering Online Check-In for All Guests

Omni Hotels has started to offer an online check-in service for all guests.

Within
48 hours of the planned stay, guests can start the check-in process off
an email confirmation they receive from the hotel.

The email will
include a link that will take them to the Omni online check-in site.
Here guests can pick their type of room and enter in their estimated
time of arrival along with a credit card number for incidentals and to
authorize the initial charge. (You can also just check-in directly on
the hotel’s site.)

A
confirmation code is given and the guest should print this receipt out
and present it at the front desk when they arrive. The front desk clerk
will simply hand over the keys and the welcome packet. Or we hope it’s
that simple. You may still have to wait in line.

Link: HotelChatter || Omni Hotel Offering Online Check-In for All Guests.

Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine – New York Times

THESE days, Google
seems to be doing everything, everywhere. It takes pictures of your
house from outer space, copies rare Sanskrit books in India, charms its
way onto Madison Avenue, picks fights with Hollywood and tries to
undercut Microsoft’s software dominance.

Link: Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine – New York Times.