Thursday, 31 October 2013

Choosing your Sleep Train bunk: why the top?


Sleeper Train – why the Top bunk? Wny Not

The Top bunk provides privacy, peace and quiet and the chance to take the overhead storage space in the berth. However…there are some let downs:

1 – Air Con – you suffer from the blasts of cold air during the night. It is therefore essential you pack a jumper…even in the hottests of countries. Nothing worse than a summer cold during a holiday. You can also wake up extremely dehydrated!

2 – The Berth Room light. The light goes off and you have navigate your way to the bunk. The morning arises and suddenly the light comes on, right in front of your face. If you wanted a wake-up alarm then the top bunk is the way to go. And why does it always tend to have the most intense bulb?!!

3 – No window – don’t expect to enjoy the views from the bed like the beds below you. Nope…you have to suffer the view of well…nothing! So make sure there is a window seat somewhere you can enjoy

4 – Balance – if you’re balance is rubbish, and your flexibility is minimal then climbing to the top bunk could be something that should well be videoed and YouTubed. That, or it gives you a chance to show off your military climbing techniques!!! Just put water in-take to a minimum throughout the journey…pee breaks are the worst!!!

Enjoy your journey!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Beijing to North Korea (DPRK) - to another world

Waking to a busy, lively train while cramped in the top bunk of a sleeper is not most people’s idea of enjoyment and excitement but for me it is one of those days in the year that put a smile on my sleep. I had managed to survive the night without rolling off the bunk, kept myself warm from the onslaughts of air con blasts from the roof of my berth (thanks to my Vietnamese silk sleeping bag), and had manoeuvred my way up and down the three bunks twice during the course of the night without disturbing anyone, in pitch darkness on a moving wagon! 

As you can tell I was mighty pleased with myself! The top bunk is not many people's choice but it certainly means people won’t disturb you. I then sit up - bang! I hit my forehead square on the train roof! Good morning! Half crunch and that's the space in my bunk compromised. 
Then I need to manoeuvre out of the bunk, changing clothes and packing while the body is still waking up and muscles aren't quite stretched. It makes me wonder how I did this during the course of the night. Especially during my mid-sleep pee break!

Settled on the bottom bunk with my friend Emily we engage with the scene whipping past our window. Large limescale hills fill the background immersed in greenery, fields packed full of crops for as far as the eye could see. Small villages, packs of houses - neither the cottage kind, nor the high rise we had experienced through much of the country from Beijing so far, instead these were well-constructed brick/concrete abodes. The city had met the countryside. 

China is fast becoming a first world leader leaving behind its third world roots that I had come to understand as a child 20 years ago. It had leapt ahead. The train system seemed well designed, if somewhat delayed for a 14-hour journey, but the tracks are immaculate. Long roads of concrete embedded with thick iron railway tracks. Robust tunnels drilled into the descriptive countryside and above ground routes illustrating the countries commitment to sustainable travel. This is not a railway built for the sake of it; this rail network connects towns, cities, people, communities throughout the country with high-speed bullet trains and quality night sleepers that spreads travellers between air and land. 

For always the beauty of train travel is the opportunity to digest the scenic offerings of the country, take in the culture of locals travelling to visit friends and family and taking a step back from the chaotic nature of air travel and the stress of security. Though everywhere in Beijing they do rank their security of utmost importance, as we enter Tinnanamen Square and so too the train station our bags are scanned - though to be honest as I took a second look I wonder if its actually more routine than security caution! At which point it was just a hassle than stress. 

Beijing train station is huge and the two-storey departure lounge reflected the sheer size of the country and population. As we waited in our departure hall with hundreds of others taking the same train it certainly does dawn on me how well organised this country is, especially in comparison to near neighbour - India - whose chaotic platforms and deteriorating departure halls are a stark contrast. Yet both developing world leaders, as part of the BRIC countries, what's interesting to see is how each Chinese person is reasonably supported by the state, something India has failed to do - perhaps the nugget of communist capitalism, or a future for China to be weary of?!

See India travel post.








Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Snowmo-sexual - Arosa launches its 10th Gay Ski Week

I've been. It's great! Seriously - it's a fantastically organised week for which you need plenty of energy for.

Arosa Gay Ski Week is not just about the slopes but also the evening parties. For me, I was exhausted by day 3 - but the atmosphere, the energy and the events keep you going to the bitter end.

Arosa has just announced its line-up for year 10 - and it is a must-see!

Check out my review of the event from 2012 here: http://ryanchaynes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/arosa-gay-ski-week-becoming-snow.html

I went for work, with one colleague, but most of the time I was left alone - and actually alone is a wrong word to use, I was left to experience it without my companion but met many more through out my stay.

The most memorable has to be either the Drag Race or the evening Pool Party :-)




Halloween - from Gaytravel.com

Guest post: By Sophie Needelman

Editorial Coordinator, www.gaytravel.com


Halloween is nearly here, but it is never too early to do a little ghost hunting! Spirits do their haunting all year-round, so regardless of when you get your travel on there are always ghoulish ghost towns to visit. Many of the country’s top travel destinations feature their very own ghost crossings, rich in history and haunted-ness! You might even be lucky enough to have a ghost sighting of your own.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas is a relatively new city, but it definitely has its fair share of haunted hotspots. Cemataries and hotels around the city have a plethora of stories that live up to their spooky reputations. The Capitol Building, Lake Highlands High School, and the Lawrence Hotel are all known for their hall-roaming ghosts. Many of these haunted hotspots are also the best-kept secrets of Hollywood royalty. Spirit tours around the city offer both indoor and outdoor options, so whatever time of year you visit you can get your haunted fix.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio’s history dates back to colonial times, so it has plenty of ghost stories to offer visitors and locals alike. The Alamo was the site of the bloody and epic battle for Texas’ independence, and its historical significance keeps the ghosts coming back for more spooking! Spice up your visit with a trip to the haunted stomping grounds of spirits like Mission San Jose, the Menger Hotel, and of course The Alamo!

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is known as one of the most haunted cities in America, and its history is rich with ghosts and terror. According to the legends, New Orleans was used by Native Americans as a sacred burial ground because of its location on the Mississippi River. The city itself was built by prison inmates sent over from the then-King of France. Between the crime and various weather catastrophes that have struck the city over the years, New Orleans is a prime ghost town! Hotel Provincial, the Omni Royal Orleans, and the Wyndham Bourbon Orleans Hotel are a few of our haunted favorites.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is known for being the birthplace of coffee, but it is also home to many ghosts and haunted spirits. Famous Pike’s Place Market is one of the most haunted places in the state because it was built on a Native American Tribal Cemetery. Seattle also has its share of spirit-inhabited bars and theaters. Jules Maes and Calamity Jane’s are two of the city’s oldest bars and have acquired many other-worldly visitors. The rainy weather in Seattle only puts the icing on the cake for this spooky town!

San Diego, California

San Diego is one of the most haunted cities of the West- and for good reason, too! The Hotel Del Coronado not only has its own share of ghosts, but is a beautiful place to spend an evening regardless of the season. The Whaley House is also one of San Diego’s most notorious haunted stomping ground located in the cultural Old Town district. Various other theaters and hotels around town are known for being frequented by spirits, so take some time out of your sunny visit to this beautiful coastal destination to pay homage to these haunting hotties!

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah has a wonderful elegance full of historic charm, friendly, locals, rich southern comfort food and pleasant Georgia weather. But peer behind the curtains of Spanish moss dripping from any beautiful oak and you’ll find a sure ghost town. From the slanted sidewalks framing the Gothic Revival architecture to the hallways of a haunted bed-and-breakfasts or Savannah’s many spirited cemeteries, this Southern city has plenty of scary sites to offer.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon has the reputation of being most haunted city of the Pacific Northwest thanks to its strange history and large number of ghost sightings throughout the years. The city’s most famous haunted houses is Pittock Mansion, where visitors have claimed to see apparitions and heard footsteps coming from empty rooms. In addition to the Pittock house, other Portland haunted places include the Bagdad theater which is a movie theater built during the roaring 20s that supposedly houses a number of spirits. For outdoor enthusiasts, Willamette River is home to a phantom rowboat that makes an appearance from time to time. Check out all of Portland’s gems, haunted and otherwise!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Guide to Beijing, China: Getting around, what has the city have to offer?



China – can it sustain growth? Getting around Beijing

I may have only spent time in Beijing, and took a train across the country, but the sheer size of its towns and cities, the growth of the skyline, and its modern look just exemplifies the place that China holds in the world.

Beijing has been flattened and rebuilt with many big block faceless buildings. History and culture seems to have been surrendered, even the Hutong area has been and is being rebuilt.

Speaking to a local, he tells me of the property bubble and how it is growing out of control. Rates and costs are rising, and this is unsustainable.

Sustainability is the theme here. So many people, so much growth and so many fighting to make sure they get the slice of the cake. I watch people as I travel and here in Beijing it’s no different, except there are so many more people here to watch.

I am first amazed by how everyone seems out for their own. People queue jump and push in line, they force their way onto the metro before people have disembarked. They seem to want to be there first before someone else gets there. And its easy to understand why, 1 billion people, if they are to have a chance they have to push up front. Natural selection and the fittest will survive seems to be very evident.

It’s also surprising how large the Beijing people seem to be, obesity is certainly a problem and growing by the day. Hundreds of fast-food outlets with McDonalds and KFC, to be honest this is a relief away from some of the very heavy Chinese food.

TAXIS
The roads are packed and it is likely you will not get anywhere fast, so use the metro if you can, only in the early hours of the morning are the roads quieter. Most of the taxi drivers I had seemed rude. In fact one evening I asked 3 taxi drivers to take me somewhere and they all Declined. I tried to show them somewhere on my map and they declined, this could be because they could not read. This either indicates their eyesight ability or their literacy levels.
In most cases it's quicker to take the metro and walk between locations, though expect a 10-15 minute walk to locations, plus only costs 2RMB

SHOPPING

Silk Market 
The home of replica branded clothes (shorts, tshirts, dresses, trousers etc) including Superdry, Armani, Abercrombie & Fitch etc, silk products, handcrafts, and tailored clothing. There’s a lot to feast your eyes on, and many ready to feast on your wallet:
- Expect to have to haggle hard, the buying process is more ridiculous than India and can often be much more offensive.
- Remain unbelievably calm
- When haggling don't speak just use their calculator
- They will try to charge you a ridiculous price for example a replica Superdry Tshirt is quoted as 700rmb. You should only pay what you feel the value is. Place a counter offer of 30Rmb, this will go back and forth until a final offer is agreed. It is likely you could get it for 50rmb but It's about being tough with negotiation.
- The experience left me bitter, angry and upset. They seem to be very much playing games with tourists, so it's important not to take it seriously (like I did) and play the game back. There's plenty of shops selling the same items so you can always move to another seller, at which point they are likely to say they will accept the offer. Thank god I was not alone on this trip…

EATING

The Den by Bar Street
4 Gongti Dong Lu, Gongti, Chaoyang District
·      Western food
·      Burger bacon and egg with fries and salad. Very good. 45rmb
·      Popular with westerners especially expats

CULTURE


798 - arts district 
Visit the arts district, it somewhat reminds me of East London and Shoreditch, or Brooklyn/ Williamsberg. It is very cool, and very Chinese new art. It feels like an escape from the busy surrounding city and is a certain must visit if you have 4 days in Beijing. It only takes 45 minutes to get there. Follow these directions.

909 bus (2rmb) from exit C at Dongzhmen subway (Line 2)
6km journey out of the city North East towards airport 

798 has many bars, coffee shops and restaurants, art houses, craft stores, galleries, so it is easy to while away a lot of time here.

HISTORY
Visit Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Drum Tower, Bell Tower, and Hutong area while here, all this will take you just one day. You will find it incredibly busy, but it is pretty much all within walking distance. If the clouds look heavy and grey take an umbrella! Don’t be caught in the heavy rainstorms.

While we were in Hutong we grabbed a lunch and a massage, the area was once the old part of Beijing, rebuilt it still has many of the trademarks of former times, with smaller streets, one-storey buildings, many restaurants and shops and pretty much the back-packer tourist area. I felt little vibe here due to the fact it had been heavily rebuilt, but this is what I found from much of Beijing.

EXCURSIONS

The Great Wall, Ming Tombs
We took a day trip out to The Great Wall on an excursion that included shopping outlets and the Ming Tombs. To be honest, I wished I had opted only for The Great Wall and taken the hike of the Jinshanling part of the wall, instead we took the Mutuanyu, with a cable car up to the top and a toboggan down to the bottom (which is quite fun). The wall length is limited for walking, but provides a wonderful view of the Wall and the surrounding landscape.
The excursion cost us 180RMB

The Beach, BeDaihe
We were spending 5 days in Beijing, so I needed to escape. We were advised to visit the beach. On reading more details we found it is a popular tourist destination for Russians, and so to it is – with all signs being dual language Chinese and Russian where English is forgotten. We took a train in the morning (7.35am) arriving at 9.30am, we were on the beach by 11am and enjoying a fresh Crab and Fish lunch at 2.30pm. A train back at 4.40pm and we were in Beijing again by 7pm, ticket 180RMB return.
When booking a train ticket, look out for the Train Ticket office in the far right side of Beijing station as you look at it. There is an English Desk and you will need to look hard. Alternatively queue, speak English and they will find someone for you. This process could take about an hour, so give yourself plenty of time.

To/From Airport
Take the train, it’s only 25RM and only takes 30 minutes to get to the Metro, then it is very easy to figure out from there.

Safety
I felt safe in Beijing, no fear of pickpockets nor did I feel threatened, but it’s worth being aware of your surroundings

Currency
Working 10RMB to the £ helped me budget a bit, but it does seem like Beijing is an expensive city and not the cheap I was expecting. Just be aware of costs.

Technology
Download a VPN Direct Application, especially to access Facebook
WeChat – excellent for connecting with any local
Jack’d – connect with gay locals.

See my China Gay Travel post

The big Gay World Rainbow Hotels website won Best Hotel Website award - Whoop!


World Rainbow Hotels (WRH), www.worldrainbowhotels.com, the world’s leading collection of gay & lesbian-welcoming hotels, was named as the best hotel website at the Travolution Awards travolutionawards.co.uk www.travolutionawards.co.uk in London on October 17 2013.

The awards are unique in recognising companies, brands and individuals who excel in the fields of online travel distribution, digital marketing and technology. Judged by a panel of proven business leaders, experts and entrepreneurs, they are the UK travel industry’s highest accolade for innovation and excellence online.

The 1,200 hotels in 129 worldwide destinations displayed on the website have all been put through a rigorous set of screening criteria, including analysis of their current involvement with the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) community, compliance with non-discrimination policies and same-sex benefits for their staff.

Member hotels are encouraged to undergo LGBT-welcoming training and required to put together an “Out & About” information guide providing tips about their local gay & lesbian scene, which can be downloaded from the hotel’s profile on WRH’s website.

Sharon Wimborne, eCommerce Director, said, “We are delighted to have won Travolution’s Best Hotel Website award. We feel we have developed a unique online proposition as well as some innovative ways for the LGBT community to share experiences and contribute to the assessment and suitability of LGBT-welcoming properties around the world.”


Nicolas Wijnants, WRH Brand Director, said, “We understood that LGBT travellers needed more than just a web-listing of gay-friendly hotels and events. It was essential to build a strong community of hoteliers, customers and travel agents where they could share information, advice and travel tips relevant to the LGBT community.”

[Oh and in a side note - I also worked with them  - great team!]



Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Top Travel Websites - part 1 (some are gay too)


Gay travel information websites – getting the low-down part 2

Following publishing my favourite gay travel websites, I have been inundated with requests to add more to this list. And it is true, that list was surely only Part 1. So on Part 2, we expand our selection slightly.

Some of them gay, some of them just helpful if you are an independent traveler. So enjoy the list and let me know any others I should be visiting when planning.
Budget Travel

Some excellent advice and resources for the budget traveler. It covers a wide range of Destinations, as well as providing some guides on best travel and what to look forward too.

Guiajando

This is for the Spanish, a great website with plenty of detail on destinations, each with their own pages. I know the editors and they are so passionate about providing quality content, that from this service they have achieved funding for Itinerium, which means if you can’t be bothered to do the planning yourself – one of their editors will do it for you.
http://www.guiajando.com/

PurpleRoofs

If you’re looking for gay travel, and help with all your accommodation needs, check out Purple Roofs selection of Bed&Breakfast, Inns, Hotels and even get your entire holiday booked with their referred Travel Agents and Tour operators.
http://purpleroofs.com/gay-travel-events.html

Shermans Gay Travel Blog
It’s all thing travel, but its great to see some articles featuring gay travel. It’s all pretty generalistic, but handy to get some ideas for your trups.
http://blog.shermanstravel.com/gay-travel

New Gay Travel Guide
Dedicated news service for gay travel, giving updates on where to go, where to be careful and loads of advice too. Good for reference material.
http://www.newgaytravelguide.com/

Gay Travel Information Blog

This is more advice for gay travel and good as a resource for when deciding the destinations you are heading.
http://gaytravelinformation.com/

Dream Euro Trip

Full of personality and truly focused on Europe and delivering quality advice. So check out his destinations, get an idea of the cost and travel as frequently as you can across Europe.
http://www.dreameurotrip.com/

Monday, 21 October 2013

Revisiting Greenwich Market

It's my favourite market in London and it's set in a quiet town, with a fantastic park - with views of the city. It leads up to an old London village overlooking London town. This is Greenwich.

There's always to much to see, the stalls are fascinating with entrepreneurs trying their hand at selling their quality products. The food market is always bustling. I never really usually eat here, but today I gave in. It was much needed, as I tucked in to a tasty burrito.

We stopped at a traditional Greenwich pub for a couple of pints of lager, and a packet of crisps, as we sat and watched people, gossiping about the people around us.

This time we also explore the Maritime Museum which was free entry, it's definitely fun for kids. Or stop at the Cutty Sark.

Walk through the Park, visit the Observatory, and enjoy some real British bangers, as a snack

Want something Gay? Go to The Prince of Greenwich, and sometimes you will find that the Rose & Crown can get pretty gay, as it was previously a gay pub, but now it is more mixed.



Remember to Check out Greenwich Market when you're in London.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Lisbon, Portugal - gay guy hanging out in the city: I love you Lisbon

Lisbon Lisbon Lisbon - I love you Lisbon!.

I didn't know what to expect before I made plans to go to Lisbon. Okay, I lie, I had started to develop some expectations. My friend and business partner, Flavio, has lived in Lisbon for many years - raving about it all the time. My university housemate was also living there for a few months, and perhaps her silence by email and Skype was enough of indication to know there was more to Lisbon than meets the eye.

Transport

Prices during the summer were extortionate, EasyJet was the best deal all round, however at nearly £200 I knew I had to leave it until the kids returned to school, at which point October proved the best time to visit at just £100. The return flights on a Sunday are pretty late, so I booked space at AirParks for the car - and plus petrol, only worked out a few pounds more than going by train - and much quicker.

Lisbon Airport is connected by the developing metro station, and took me to Rato within 45 minutes.  Just West of the City, Rato is just a 40 minute walk to the centre, and easily accessible by the Tram number 28. Plus its spitting distance from the main gay scene. It's not long before you're in Bairro Alto to start your night, and then head to gay Rato and crawl home.

Exploring
Tram, Metro, Bus, Taxi and by foot. Lisbon isn't that big and you can really get around on foot, but be fit - as there will be a lot of hills to climb and its all on cobbled streets. When the cobbles get warm, their smoothness becomes slippery and you can find yourself slipping down the roads.

Visit the National Art Museum, walk along the river front and head to Centrale.  It's that simple.

You will however, get lost in Bairro Alto and surrounding areas, as the streets have no shape and order to them. So whether you have a printed map or a SatNav, I assure you, you will have navigational issues!

Food & Drink
It's so cheap! Whoop! Seriously! Look forward to that.

An average meal in the evening: expect to pay about €12 - 15.
This included for me, Grilled Sea Bass, Chips, Salad, 2 glasses of wine, beer, coffee

An average lunch: expect to pay €3 - 7
If you just want a basic sandwich, or opt for the famous Portuguese cheese and ham toastie, with a drink/coffee, this will set you back just €4.

I generally had breakfast at my friends apartment, simple bread, yoghurt and coffee to kick start the day.

You need plenty of water with you while exploring the city. It's pretty much always nice in Lisbon. It gets cold November - March but certainly nothing like Germany or the UK. In Middle of October the temperature was 28 degrees and blue skies for all days.

SuperBock - the most served beer. It's simple and easy to drink, but nothing to get excited about - but of course I did, since this was my first taster! Love discovering new beer!

Chapito - head to this multi-use venue. There is a restaurant overlooking Lisbon, with an exquisite sunset! We enjoyed a few beers and Green wine here. But the food looked excellent and there seemed to be no complaints from the diners. During the day you can find circus acts here who are practicsing, and it's apparently used by other groups of local people.

Traditional Portuguese Restaurant/ (cafe to the British).
Perhaps the best place to get food. They are small and squeeze a lot of people into the space, but the food is incredibly well priced, it's quick and very good!

Discovering the Gay Area
Don't do this by day. Do it by night, it is much easier to figure out where the bars are. It's all incredibly discreet during the day. The bars don't tend to open until 9/10pm, so have patience. Find out more in my Gay Guy Guide. Main bars include Les Marais, Woolf, Trump, Bar 106, Tres, Lux

Visit a Flea Market
I was told the flea market is open pretty much every day until 4pm. We arrived about 1.30pm to discover a large flea market. Some of the items were extraordinary, and probably could fetch a good price, and some items demonstrated the desperation of the poor. Portugal is suffering financially, and its residents are pretty poor.

Belem
Spend an afternoon in Belem. Here you can explore Jerónimos Monastery, its a real beautiful building!
Grab yourself a Custard Tart while here, it is worth the 15- 20 minute queue wait. Also, enjoy some ice-cream, the flavours are brilliant!






Costing
Flights - £100
Accommodation: Double room hostel €70 for 2 nights










Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Gay Skiing - The rainbow winter sports: Gay Snow Happening, Solden, 22 - 29 March 2014

It's coming for its 16th year, Gay Snow Happening in Solden from 22 - 29 March 2014.

The programme gets more packed every year and the hype escalates, one of the most exciting events in the gay winter calendar and I hope that I can take part soon. there is nothing better than a gay ski week to drown the misery of winter. The parties on the slopes, the late night dancing sessions and curing your hangovers in the bitter cold snow, the heavy warm food and the friendly socialable gays that attend.

Gay Snow Happening has hundreds of gays from all across Europe and beyond to enjoy Austria's top resorts. As the organisers say "Among the most entertaining attractions ranks the jovial Hut Evening at Annemarie’s Hühnersteign: after dinner the quaint mountain hut turns into a unique music and dance temple just perfect for unlimited party fun until the small hours. In Sölden's bar, pubs and restaurants several great events and cosmopolitan programs are scheduled at night – top DJs and the "Forever Tel Aviv" party series organizing also the farewell evening together with Cologne's  SEXY Mega Party."

Every day is packed with parties, and while you might be wrapped up during the day, you can be sure to enjoy the warmth by night. There are also some new additions, including the new restaurant with a rooftop terrace and excellent Alpine Cuisine menu of fresh local products and Austrian wine. . It's the highest restaurant so you can be sure to enjoy spectacular scenic views.

Enjoy a good old gay ski week with skiing, snowboarding, parties, gays and much much more!

For more details:
www.gaysnowhappening.com
www.soelden.com

www.facebook.com/gaysnowhappening

Images:
image 1 -
© TomOnTour.com
Fotograf Thomas Bömkes


image 2
© Ötztal Tourismus
Fotograf Frank Störbrauck

image 3
Bergbahnen Sölden©


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Talking Tech - Hotel Owner - Ryan C Haynes becomes a columnist

So, I've just become a monthly columnist for UK publication Hotel Owner where I will be talking the world of Technology. giving my insight and advice on how hotels should approach core developments in the technology. Check out my monthly column as I post it here.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The future of independent booking – as hotels and online travel agents (OTAs) see it

So I was privy to a presentation from Google talking about the trends it sees in travel and the forecast for the industry – the thing with Google is that 1) it sits on huge amounts of user data from our searches, our blogs, our reviews, our thoughts, our status updates and our videos and 2) it receives billions of pounds in advertising from the travel industry – so it definitely has an interest in the market…

Interesting trends:
43% people move between devices when researching travel
Desktop saw a reduction of searches by -6%
Mobile saw an increase in searches by +71%
Tablet saw an increase in searches by +131%

Admittedly I work across all 3 devices, but my tablet is only connected to WiFi so I do tend to end up working on my mobile or Desktop - I still love my laptop.

The UK, according to Deloitte, is one of the most advanced for using mobiles, with smartphone penetration at a height of 72%.

It must people pointed out, however, that if you do a search on Google for most regular terms it is likely your results will be the big online travel agents, therefore to filter these out, you should consider long-tail key words that focus on Location, Season, Events, Interests etc…so if you’re looking for a hotel

AVOID:
-       Hotel Munich

USE
-       3star, hotel munich, boutique, special Oktoberfest events, towards the north of city

If you have interest in a particular event or location in the city, name it in your search term, this will give you an array of new results that will include independent hotels.

What the hoteliers on the panel did note, is that the OTAs do offer travelers the ‘Distressed’ inventory – this is rooms that have not yet been sold. Therefore a greater opportunity to get a good deal on these rooms.

Another place to look for checking hotel rates is meta-search website http://www.hipmunk.com/ that offers the Discomfort factor…how much are you willing to lose out on for the sake of a good rate at a hotel…give it a test run and see if it suits your needs. An alternative is http://trivago.com/ offering comparison in products for you.

What all this shows us, is that the way we may soon research travel is going to change. The hotels are fighting the OTAs, the OTAs are buying new companies to stay ahead, and the technology is changing fast. Furthermore, the way, we as travelers must interact with Search Engines has to change to give us the results that we want.

So – are you ready to make a change in the way you buy your travels?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Top Gay Travel Websites


Gay travel information websites – getting the low-down part 1

I wanted to share with you the websites I use to find out gay information when traveling and out and about. I know my blog is one way of helping you, but any experiences you do have, please share with me and on my blog so we can build fresh content together.

Check these out.

GayTravel.com
This website connects gay and lesbian travelers with gay friendly destinations, hotels, cruises and tours throughout the world. It is like a virtual gay travel magazine with a mission to provide visitors with the most comprehensive and accurate information available to make your vacation pleasurable and comfortable.

Qguide.com
QGuide.com is a growing social travel network that lets you discover, connect and share your interests, passions and experiences with other like-minded travelers and meet locals. It focuses on taking the gay and then taking you out of that experience - enticing you to venture out of your comfort zones to discover the beautiful wonderful wider world through a gay eye. Here are blogs and content from other gay tavelers

myGayTrip.com
This growing French gay destination and travel information provides reviews of places, venues and events and gives you the low-down of what is coming up. Discover new places with some excellent sexy imagery through the gay French eye.

GayCities
This growing website and mobile phone application is putting you in the heart of the gay world wherever on the globe you are. This simple location-based application will provide all local bars events and clubs. Still developing with content but ever receiving more reviews and rankings from members, GayCities is becoming an excellent source of information. http://www.gaycities.com


Patroc.com

This gay travel guide may seem basic, but there are some hidden gems within the content. Patroc can occasionally pop-up on search engines when looking for gay events across Europe, so it is definitely worth delving in on your next European trip to learn more about the cities and its activities.


GaysOnTour.com

Check out Gaysontour.com for events worldwide, they seem to source many bear, leather and fetish parties and Pride events. So if you like to check out something different or you have a particular interest when traveling then this is an ideal source for your travel plans.


The Longest Way Home

Providing travel inspiration from some of the greatest traveler and writers the world has seen, thelongestwayhome.com covers countries and cities across the world providing the information on the must see places


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Top Gay Travel Bloggers

For me, these guys are becoming the best gay travel bloggers that I follow, gain inspiration from and go to for advice, as well as dealing it out to them when I can – of course.

Check these ones out:

Dan Allen
A freelance journalist and travels the world working for numerous publications including AOL, Miami Herald, tripoutgaytravel.com among many others.

Visit his ever-growing collection of journalistic work, with a portfolio of his photography. “From entertainment to politics to travel, it's all here... from Congressman Barney Frank's post-9/11 take on Jerry Falwell in 2001, to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's first full interview with the LGBT press in 2005, to a report on Greenland's first-ever gay pride event in 2010. There's also far more Eurovision Song Contest coverage than any American (or most Europeans, for that matter) will care about.”

Ed Salvato
Ed is editor in chief of ManAboutWorld, the world’s first gay travel magazine built for the iPad. A gay travel expert having worked for OUT&ABOUT, Out Traveler, PlanetOut Travel, Advocate Travel and Gay.com Travel.

Amy Lame
Originally from USA and is now a London resident working as a presenter, writer, and performer. This award-winning multimedia legend has written for many exclusive publications including the Huffington Post and works with the BBC. She travels and writes cultural articles

Carlos Melia
Forever on Facebook, ongoing video content of his travels and an informative blog, somewhere new all the time - Carlos brings the world together through his reports. He is also a travel agent and wedding planner, if you’re thinking of some first-hand help, plus he really does specialize in LUXURY.

Travels of Adam
A graphic designer turned traveler, now blogger. Adam is always on the road lifting rocks and finding what can’t be seen by the naked eye. His blog = “a hipster travel & lifestyle blog for sharing personal experiences and alternative & indie travel tips from around the world.”