Web review - summer holidays overseas: 21/10
Topical site of the week: http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/
This is one of the most creative ideas I have ever seen. This guy in England has to pay for his university fees, so he comes up with the idea of selling blocks of pixels on the Internet, for US$1 each, the minimum purchase being a 10x10 graphic image for $100. He started a month and a half ago and he's already made US$400,000. Every time I check back, there's some new ads and graphics. This guy is going to be a millionaire, because of a simple idea, basically a patchwork quilt of advertising: Advertising wise, it's a bargain, check out the case studies, these have had their hits go through the roof. This will of course have diminishing returns as the number of ads increases. Wish I'd thought of that!
Theme for the Week: Summer Holidays Overseas
With the plethora of travel sites how can one actually get the real down 'n' dirty on places to see, stay and go? Have I got the site for you. See www.tripadvisor.com - this is the un-moderated, un-sanitized and totally community-driven site where you can get unbiased travel reviews on just about anywhere and anything, written and submitted by people like you and me. I went and saw what it had to say about NZ first, particularly some of the better known hotels and tourist attractions - and if I was a 5 star hotel in Wellington - well, it might just pay to have a read of some of the reviews. I did a quick search on Gold Coast Hotels, Australia and read some of the reviews - a quick scan was pleasing - nice and positive headings like "Fantastic, Nice & Relaxing, Beautiful". I was intrigued by the "terrible terrible apartments - stay away" - again this is really the way to find out firsthand what people like and don't like in the travel spots of the world. Very useful reviews of things to do in the most remote and highly visited places and great tips and secrets to ensure you have a great time.
Another great site is www.lonelyplanet.com - yes, we know their guidebooks are great, but they're right up there on the web too. Like the site above, you can be assured that the material is up to date but also you get unbiased reviews, questions, cries for help and information on all matter of things on their wonderful forums, at http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/ . All manner of questions and replies - how to find a travel buddy, where not to drink the water, where can you take kids http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/categories.cfm?catid=37 and so on. You can simply spend hours reading the posts on both of these sites.
Getting there, you should check out www.zuji.co.nz - created by Travelocity, the Big Daddy of online travel sites. This site searches nearly all the airlines and hotels available and returns pages of results. For example, I did a search on a flight from Wellington to London return, and had 12 options between Air NZ and Qantas, the cheapest being $2,449 (excluding those damn taxes). But the site is pretty slow which can be painful - and I'm on broadband. For comparison searches for NZ, Australia and the Pacific Islands www.houseoftravel.co.nz isn't bad. Again, painfully slow (80 seconds!) but my search on travel between Wellington and Brisbane garnered 7 different results from three different airlines. Departing from Auckland I got (after another 80 seconds - at least they count it down for you) there was a choice of 5 airlines. I'm also very impressed with the consistently good service on www.airnz.co.nz. Fast, quick, done. I don't think I've bought a domestic or trans-tasman airline ticket in the past 3 years from a real person yet. Pay by credit card or by Airpoints Dollars. And they even sorted me out when I mucked up and had my days wrong.
For a good site that gives lots of good advice about traveling with your kids, check out the very low-tech and budget but with great content www.travelwithyourkids.com. It's not pretty, but it has some great advice. Particularly about how to deal with the sighing, discontented business traveler in the seat in front of your squealing, squirming 3 year old 2 hours into a 24 hour flight.