Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Macchu Picchu - is it all it is cracked up to be

Is Macchu Picchu all it is cracked up to be? Is the Great Wall of China? Is the Inca Trail? Tikal, Palenque ....

It is an interesting question, we all chase after the big monuments and then have to share them with thousands of others. The question that has always played on my mind has been, am I not better heading for the under-visited alternatives. For example, in New Zealand, Milford Sound is undeniably beautiful in that rugged fjor-land wilderness kind of way, but then loads of people head down there and you have to share the view. Last time I visited I tackled Gertrude's saddle, a stunning 4 hour trek that takes you to a stunning viewpoint over the fjord without any of the crowds. Perfect.

So back to Machu Picchu, is it worth it. Heck, people even head out to Peru solely for the purpose of a Machu Pichu holiday. Well there are alternatives. Choquequirao is known as a sister site, and whilst it isn't quite as dramatically situated it is very rarely visited the trek there is incredible and well having it all to yourself is a big deal after the crowds at Machu Picchu. But then, do you really want to go to Peru and not see Machu Picchu?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trekking in Morocco

The Sunday Times ran a feature this week on weekend adventures, including 8 ideas for a long weekend away. I love the idea of this, the active alternative to the rather over done city break. Tips included sea kayaking in Croatia and trekking in Morocco, both trips we offer at Tourdust.

I'd love to see this emerge as a new category, but I guess unless it acquires a moniker (a la glamping, staycation .... yawn!!!!) then it isn't going to fly with journalists.

For what it is worth the promoted trekking trip in Morocco wasn't half bad, but could be so much better. If you are going to spend a weekend in Morocco, then I'd really recommend spending three days tackling Toubkal. You could fly Friday morning on the first easyjet flight from Gatwick to Marrakech, head straight to the Atlas Mountains in time for lunch. You'd head up through the Azzaden Valley on the Saturday, then up early on the Sunday to climb Toubkal and then return to Imlil. I'd usually recommend overnighting in Marrakech and then heading back to the UK on Monday.

You could squeeze it tighter, but Toubkal in two days is a bit of a dull trek missing the best of the mountains., it is also a fairly busy trail. Likewise you could potentially fly back on the last day of the trek, but the albeit small chances of the the road from Imlil to Marrakech being blocked by rock fall or floods mean you'd be better playing safe and leaving some sleeve.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Applications. For life not just for Christmas?

I've been doing a little research into travel applications on Facebook and have been amazed by their apparent failure.

Searching the Facebook application directory for travel applications brings up 200 applications (presumably there are more, I am just seeing the more 'popular' ones). Of those, only:

  • Just 5 have more than 5,000 monthly users.
  • Just 45 have more than 1,000 monthly users.

Apparently an active user is defined as "the number of unique daily active users who interact with your application in any way - whether it be by visiting a canvas page, interacting with a profile box, or clicking on a profile tab."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alternative WTM World Travel Market Guide

The World Travel Market is in London in a couple of weeks time. We'll be there in force, but figuring out what to do is a mission in itself. Their will be over 5000 exhibitors and dozens of events, so I've bucked the trend of a lifetime and got myself a little organised.

I've just spent the best part of a morning navigating the labyrinth that is the WTM web-site and thought I'd share the juicy bits. So here is my World travel market guide and schedule. Naturally, there is a leaning towards anything e-commerce, adventure travel and responsible travel related:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Delivering Great Customer Service Online

The key to delivering great customer service is by 'surprising and delighting'. How can an online company with online margins surprise & delight?
When the tsunami hit SE Asia, American Express put on extra shifts and called around all their Cardmembers they knew were in the area to make sure they were safe, you'll never see that on an advert.
As a matter of course, Amex cardmembers would call in complaining about a hotel charge on their bill. Generally, the issue was between the hotel and the customer, but Amex would often step in and take the hit. The concept is known as ‘surprise and delight’ and is a great example of how to engender customer loyalty and word of mouth through superior service. There are countless similar examples from other companies such as Nordstrom, and Southwest Airlines.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What is the point of blogging?

The time has come to investigate the actual benefits of all that time put into blogging.

I must admit, I have been entirely remiss in my absence of blogging activity recently. Mainly because we are incredibly busy building the best adventure travel site in the world. Still I'm turning over a new leaf and am determined to make sure my blogging activity delivers a positive return.

What have we gained from writing this moderately successful blog?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travolution summit write-up

Interesting insights from at the Travolution Summit

For those that follow me on twitter (@bencolclough) you would have seen a flurry of messages yesterday about the Travolution summit.  The summit was a fantastic event where a bunch of smart people in the world of online travel got together and listened to some great presentations.