I stumbled upon a site, epassportphoto.com that claims it can provide you with free passport photos. Has anybody used this site to successfully produce passport photos? I know that it costs around £5 for a 4 passport photos at a booth or photographers, so it could save you a few pounds but only if the photos are accepted. Otherwise you would have the hassle oF re-applying. The Times has highlighted a couple of potential hazards.
Firstly that the process may deform the original photos and secondly if you take up the free hard copy offer your photo could be misused, especially if that firm is based in another country.
Photo by Daniel Morris
I think I’d probably play it safe and go to my local photographers, who knows exactly what the photo should look like and pay my £5.
[tags]passport photos, free passport photos[/tags]
Last week Arnold at Foreign Perspectives mentioned the social networking site, Stumbleupon to me. I had a look at the site and registered my interest travel sites. I downloaded a Stumble tool bar and when I press the icon at the left hand side of that tool bar a random selection of travel sites appear one at a time. I was mainly interested in travel sites about Europe and I didn’t seem to be able to further refine my search options but maybe that will happen in the future. I discovered some interesting and unusual travel websites. I have also added a stumbleupon social bookmark link option at the bottom of my blog entries.
Have you used Stumbleupon, how do you find it?
[tags]social networking, travel websites[/tags]
I received my Podcast Factory from the France 24 TV news channel, my prize for commenting on the French Presidential elections. Now it claims on the box that “your voice on the internet in minutes”. This was deja vu as I’d read this when trying to install Google Adsense and integrate the WordPress blog into my site. Well that may be the case for the IT and techically literate but we mere mortals need to call on expert assistance, which in my case, is an SOS to our son Gary. He’s coming on Monday to get me up and running.
Podcast Bear by blogefi
I thought I’d do a weekly podcast rounding up travel news and blog entries for the previous week. If you have any ideas of topics you’d like me to talk about, please let me know.
There is a feeling that people are beginning to lose their enthusiasm for social netwoking sites leading to a warning to travel agents about linking to such sites. Some experts say it’s hard to tell which sites will survive in the long term with so many new sites being set up to capitalise on the boom.
Website as graph by pibua67
I joined several travel social networking sites such as Gusto and Trip Connect (and I have the T shirts to prove it), partly out of curiousity and partly because I thought it might enhance my reputation as a Europe travel expert. I must admit that I hardly visit the sites now, I’m too busy researching and writing guides and maintaining the blog. Are you as keen as ever on social networking sites or staring to get a bit jaded?
This year’s Science Festival is subtitled, “Science you can handle”. Several events are aimed at kids. such as Dig up a Dinosaur, Unwrap a Mummy and Lego Robosports. The event take part at various venues including the Botanic Gardens.
Our kids used to love going to the Science Festival and I think it’s a great day out for the Easter holidays which isn’t too weather dependent.
I have been thinking about adding Google Adsense to my websites for a while. My first problem was I wasn’t able to do it myself. Google claims it is easy to install but I didn’t find this to be the case for me. I’d to wait until my son, my IT expert, had free time during his Easter Holidays to do it for me.
My other concern was the ads would affect the look and quality of my site. My son installed Adsense to European Cultural & Activity Tours first. The ads that came up were spot on, completely in context. However when he moved on the Europe a la Carte blog it was a different story. The first two ads which appeared were for make-up and for taps and sinks, totally unrelated to the blog. However during the day the ads seem to have become more contextual. I’m hoping this will continue to be the case.
When you visit a website or a blog, do you find the ads annoying? Or are they sometimes useful to you?
Are you a webmaster who uses Google Adsense, how have you found it?
I am a speaker at the launch of my local Womens Networking Forum this evening. My presentation will be on the topic of internet marketing. I have coined the acronym NAB
This is based on my article, “How to get visitors to your website without spending a penny” which you can read below.
As a small business I have to find ways to get visitors to my site without a large advertising spend. However while I may not spend money, I certainly put in a lot of time and effort!
1 You need to find a niche angle, something that makes you stand out from other similar websites. Every industry is very competitive and you need something to get your site noticed. I feature less well known destinations in Europe, like Lake Iseo in northern Italy, then I can come in the first few listed on a natural search (as supposed to a sponsored or paid for result). If I promote well known destinations like Florence, I will probably turn up on page 100 and nobody will find me.
2 Try to write as many articles as possible relevant to the product/service that you are selling on your website. I write articles and guides about these less well known destinations and promote these articles and guides as widely as possible eg submit to Ezine Articles and Helium. This way you can become an expert on your niche market and your site comes higher in natural searches.
3 Start a blog on your site. Again only post articles which are relevant to your product/service. I write posts about travel in Europe. I try to make at least one post per day. You must then get your blog listed on blog directories and make comments on other related blogs with links back to your blog. Search engines like the way blogs are structured and that fact that there is a constant stream of fresh content on your website. Again this brings you up higher in the natural search results.
I came across this article in the Times technology section advocating the use of multimedia technology to encourage visitors in Venice to venture into less touristy neighbourhoods. In the trial visitors were offered a mulitmedia two hour walking tour. Armed with PDAs loaded with flash animation, video clips and maps, they set out of their tour of discovery. Feedback from the trial was very postive.
This article exemplifies the culture of spoon feeding. Why do you need new technology complete with all the bells and whistles to get off the beaten track? Just do it, explore the area for yourself without being told what to do and see! Take the advice of Jan Morris, “The best way to find out about a place is wander around. Wander around, alone, with all your antennae out thinking about what’s happening and what you see and what you feel.”
When I write a destination guide I want to instill a desire in the reader to visit and explore that destination themselves, not provide a complete blow by blow intinerary for their visit. When I plan a trip for myself I do some research about my destination, decide on some priorities. However I don’t want to have a schedule set in stone. Why not read my 7 Tips for planning independent travel in Europe.
Online travel marketing is moving toward behavioural marketing . If you are in a travel site, technology can track what you have researched but did not purchase. You can expect to receive a personalised targeted follow up with information relevant to your search. Companies using this technology have reported a tenfold increase in conversion rates.
When I read this article it is not clear to me how the technology could legitimately gather a browsers email address in order to deliver the future targeted follow up. I found an article which explained that browsers were willing to consent to receive relevant advertising in exchange for the free download of computer software. However the article concludes that bombarding potential customers albeit with relevant advertising is not the way to build loyalty.
Would you be happy to receive these follow ups? I think it could be annoying if say you did make a purchase on another site and then receive more adverts about something you have already purchased. Some travel browsers visit so many sites when they are researching a trip that I don’t know if their inbox could cope with the aftermath! I also think that this technology will pretty expensive to buy so I assume it will be used mainly by large companies. That could turn out to be a good thing for small businesses like mine if potential customers know they can visit my site without fear of receiving more adverts in their email.
New research shows that UGC is more trusted than travel agents sites. I don’t think that these findings are exactly ground breaking. I would have expected a higher percentage of people it’s only 20% to trust user generated reviews than trust content on travel agents’ sites, that stands at 12%.
I have discussed this topic before. I think that only sensible approach is to use a few several different sources. I think that the system used by Active Hotels, one of the hotel affiliates I use, is a good approach. You can only submit a hotel review if you booked the accommodation through the Active Hotels website and using the email address provided at the time of booking. With sites like Trip Advisor anybody can log in and post a review.
Do you check the system for submitting reviews before you read reviews to help you assess their provenance?