Online travel agency donates 100% of profits to charity

teleotravelFor those who love to travel, there is now a way to see the world while also doing a good deed. A brand new online travel agency, Teleotravel, operates under a generous philosophy and donates 100% of its net profits to charity.

Explains Adam Beardwood, the Founder and President of Teleotravel, “My idea for Teleotravel came out of a need to create a sustainable way to financially help charities in a consumer forum. That is, people and businesses can participate in ending extreme global poverty as simply as doing something they are already doing, like buying travel…My hope is to capture a small percentage of [the online travel booking market] which could potentially raise millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars for charities.”

Travelers making a booking on the site can choose from a list of charities that they would like the net profits from their booking to go to. So, why do you have to choose a charity from a predetermined list? Because the team at Teleotravel want to make sure that these bookings are making a significant impact. Instead of myriad charities getting one single donation, a set group of specific charities can receive significant contributions each day. As of now, the official charity partners of Teleotravel that can benefit from bookings made on the site include:

Says Beardwood of the mission of the site, “My partners and I did not start this business in order to build up our own wealth but to help others succeed in rising out of poverty, may that be nationally or globally.”

To learn more or to make a charitable travel booking with Teleotravel, click here.

A profile of travel writing school Matador U

matadoru traveling writing courseAs someone who has been traveling around the globe since before I can remember, I have always dreamed of being a travel writer. While I would often blog about my trips to my friends and family, write about my trips for school papers, and create websites and content for (unpaid) internships, I never realized that travel writing was something that normal people could actually make a living out of.

Matador has always been one of my favorite travel websites, so when I saw that they were offering a MatadorU travel writing course, I became interested. I did a bit of research, read reviews and feedback from other students, contacted the instructors, and, after deciding it sounded worthwhile, signed up. Plus, I liked the fact that they allow you to try the course for a week for $10 to see if you like it, risk free.traveling writing course with matadoruThe total for the course is $350 which gives students access to various lessons, resources, and support forums. With all the course offers, I can honestly say it is the cheapest yet most worthwhile course I have ever taken. Before even get started, there is a pre-course that helps you setup your blog and learn what steps to take to get the most out of the course. After that, there are 12 weekly chapters (although, you are allowed to take as much time as you need to complete them), each with key terms, lessons, examples to make the lessons clear, and assignments that are critiqued. Unlike many of the assignments that I completed in school, what is great about MatadorU’s assignments is that each one becomes content to help build your blog. There are also assignments that help you create photo essays, podcasts, portfolios, and advertising pages to help monetize your site. Some other important lessons learned from MatadorU include:

  • creating successful pitches
  • finding and approaching editors
  • crafting compelling beginnings, middles, and ends to your story
  • creating characters and dialogue
  • writing in different tenses and using all of the five senses
  • writing different types of articles, for example, destination pieces vs. reviews
  • crafting a successful bio
  • how to apply for press trips and etiquette to abide by if you are chosen
  • tips for successful freelancing
  • tips for travel writing full time (for example, how to get insurance)
  • how to successfully use social media as a travel writer
  • how to work on the road

And much more (seriously, that isn’t even half of what they cover). Really, though, if there isn’t something covered, you are free to seek help by contacting the instructors or posting in the community forums where your peers, as well as staff, comment. The forums are not only a great place to learn and get advice about travel writing, but are also helpful in creating contacts, finding potential project leads, finding out about writing contests and jobs, and allowing you to talk to like-minded people in your niche.

By the time I had reached Chapter 3, I had not only begun contacting editors and sending pitches, I had started making money. My first article that I successfully pitched and sold was for an online adventure travel magazine about hiking in New York. While they normally didn’t pay for articles, they liked my idea so much they gave me $50 to create a mini-hiking guide for them. While this isn’t a ton of money, just starting out, I was pretty excited, especially since for years I had been writing for websites that didn’t pay me a dime. It also gave me the drive to really put all of my efforts into the MatadorU course and get the most out of it, giving me the confidence to pursue higher paying avenues (many times, successfully!).

Aside for the immense amount of information they give you and the feeling of a strong support system, there were two things about this course that really made me feel like it was worthwhile. The instructor in charge of the course, Julie, is the most helpful teacher I have ever had. I was always amazed at how much thought she put into giving me feedback on my assignments and my endless questions and e-mails. She has taken the time to Skype with me about future steps in my travel writing career and has even set me up with some networking projects. I am not sure how she finds the time to give each student so much attention, especially since she is a travel writer herself, but she does.

The other factor that has really made me a fan of MatadorU is all of the resources that I have, and always will have, access to. Just the Magazine List alone, with publication information, submission guidelines, and editor contacts for over 100 travel-related magazines, was worth the cost of the class. There are also pro-modules that are helpful to alumni, as well as a Market Blog that posts press trips, job leads (I have actually gotten paying assignments and jobs from this), and a weekly Writing Lab where you can have any piece of writing you wish to submit critiqued.

So what did I get out of the course? A lot. By taking this course I have not only helped enhance my writing, researching, note-taking, social media, and blogging skills, but have also seen that it’s actually possible to be paid to do what I love most, travel.

New online class teaches travelers how to make money on the road

location indepdence; working from the roadOn Wednesday, October 12, 2011, at 9PM EST (6PM PST), Unconventional Guides will host an online class on working from the road and how to make a living while traveling. The class promises that “if you are determined and committed, you can make this happen”.

The class will cover the following topics:

  • The truth about passive income
  • A 5-step plan that will allow you to make money on the road
  • Providing a service vs. creating a product
  • Different forms of work and various travel styles
  • How to handle taxes, mail, and health insurance
  • Non-profit and for-profit business creation
  • Volunteering abroad
  • Freelancing
  • Answers to more than 40 frequently asked questions

The class is only open to a limited number of students, so if you’re interested, click here to sign up.

Travel industry spending big bucks for you to see them online

travel industry online ad spendingIf you saw a banner ad today, there’s a good chance it was from a travel company. The industry is recovering as the country moves away from the recession, and airlines, hotels and rental car companies want to claim their share of your cash. To reach into your wallet, these guys are moving online, and they’re spending a boatload of bucks.

Unsurprisingly, the retail sector leads the world in online ad spending, pumping $5.16 billion into it last year – with an expected $5.73 billion to come in 2011. That’s good for 20 percent of the online ad market in 2010 and 2011. The travel industry is a lot smaller. It spent $1.81 billion last year to capture 5.6 percent of online advertising spend. In 2011, eMarketer expects travel companies to push their investments higher, with online ad spending forecasted to reach a whopping $1.95 billion.

You know what’s funny? In 2010, travel companies were responsible for 7 percent of online ad spending in the United States, but the extra $1.4 billion coming this year isn’t good enough to keep that level. In 2011, travel’s share of the online advertising pie will drop to 6.8 percent, according to the eMarketer estimates.

So, what should you take from this?

Travel companies are looking for growth. The market is coming back, and travelers are taking to the road again. Improved service and additional routes are nice, but it’s also important to get in front of potential buyers. After all, we know what kind of wheel gets the grease!

American Airlines and Orbitz tangled in antitrust battle

American AirlinesThe online travel agency battle continues … and it’s getting ugly. The latest move comes from American Airlines, which is suing Orbitz and Travelport for alleged anticompetitive behavior. So, what started in November as a battle over fare distribution has escalated into an antitrust war.

Through the end of the year, Orbitz and American Airlines fought it out, ultimately winding up in court, where American emerged victorious. Along the way, the two sides in this commercial combat – travel suppliers, such as airlines, and online travel agencies – found other fields of battle, with Expedia, Delta, CheapOair and BookIt among those entering the fray.

American is claiming that Orbitz is trying to “control the distribution of airline tickets,” according to a report by legal magazine Corporate Secretary. The article gives some insight into the legal aspects of what’s happening:

‘The lawsuit raises innovative but real questions about market power and behaviors in the current airline structure,’ says Spencer Waller, professor and director of Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies at Chicago-based Loyola University. ‘But I don’t think this lawsuit will get to a resolution on the merits of antitrust claims. I view this case primarily as a continuation of the dispute and negotiations over fees in the online travel agency.’

For American, the disintermediation of online travel agencies would lead to direct ownership of the consumer, as well as wider margins on each transaction. Corporate Secretary continues:

‘The dispute raises real antitrust concerns because firms have substantial market power, and higher fees are being generated that are being passed on to consumers,’ Waller adds. ‘The antitrust law is looking at it from a consumer perspective and in the end, this law would want the airlines to produce lower fees.’

We hit a period of calm earlier this year, but the war in the travel industry is heating up once again. The parties are back in court, only a few months after American’s last victory, and it looks like we’ll all have to wait for the judge.

You can read American’s filing here.