Travel-Related Websites That Really Engage Their Customers

travel-related web sitesThey all talk about it. “Like us on Facebook,” “Follow us on Twitter” and “Read our blog,” say travel-related websites selling everything from guidebooks to airline flights, gear and gum. Many give us little reason to like them, follow them or do anything other than buy their products on the way to the next online destination. But some travel seller sites actually do put some time and effort into creating a reason to visit other than to buy something.

The task of buying a hotel room for a night is easy to define. The short list of variables includes location, price and availability. Easy. Any number of search sites can gather that information, whirl it around and present viable options. Hotel.info does more. On their blog we find The Ultimate Guide To Cooking In Your Hotel Room that brings us unique, interesting content that in and of itself is a good reason to visit their site.A Different Kind Of Hotel Search
travel-related web sitesProviding step by step directions and video, Hotel.info teamed up with chef Nicola Whistle (the Secret Restaurant) to hack hotel room food. Using things commonly found in a hotel room, like a shower cap and iron, Chef Whistle cooks up some delicious dishes. Poached egg on toast with steamed asparagus for breakfast? Cooked in your hotel room? Yes indeed, it can be done and visiting hotel.info shows travelers exactly how to do it. Visitors to this site actually have a reason to like, follow and maybe check in with their #ultimatehotelguide hashtag from @hotelinfo_EN on Twitter from time to time.

Still, visitors would probably leave the Hotel.info site if their search results were not productive. Running a test search, Hotel.info vs. Kayak, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Expedia and others, results were similar but engagement was not. They all ask for our like and follow but only Hotel.info had additional content worth a look.

15,000 Things To Do On Planet Earth
Another travel buy site that earns our vote is Viator. This travel tour buy site caught our attention last year with their “Win Your Dream Travel Job” contest that had four winners tasked with traveling through 20 countries in 60 days in both North America and Europe, and documenting their adventures on camera. Viator also earned likes from cruise travelers, saving them money with Viator Shore Excursions offering more than 500 shore excursions in over 80 of the most popular ports around the globe. But more moving past simply selling tours, Viator engages site visitors with features like inviting travelers to submit photos and a rich library of tour-specific videos.

Selling a no-wait Skip The Line Guinness Storehouse Entrance Ticket for visitors to Dublin might be reason enough to buy. But Viator builds on that value with recent photos and a short video that is an accurate representation of the tour. A new Viator Tours & Activities App makes finding and booking activities for almost any given destination we might visit while traveling easy too, with more than 15,000 curated trip activities in hundreds of destinations including photos, video and reviews.

Clicking a “like” or “follow” button takes just a split second. But consider that click as a vote and be sure your vote counts. The best travel-related websites not only offer good pricing but come equipped with unique content that makes for a better overall value.

Wanderu’s Site Lets You Research And Book Bus And Rail Travel

chicken busIf you’re a traveler, then you’re a Kayaker. Not a paddler, but a devotee of Kayak.com, the airline (and hotel and rental car) search engine that makes booking the lowest fares a breeze. If you’re a traveler, then you’ve also probably cursed the fact that a similar site doesn’t exist for bus and rail travel.

We can now count our blessings, thanks to Wanderu. According to Thrillist, this ingenious domestic search engine offers “hundreds of routes, operators, and schedules into a free, trip-aggregating database.” You can even make bookings, which is like a giant gift from the Travel Gods.

As soon as Wanderu or a competitor makes this info available for international travel, budget travelers won’t have anything left to complain about – except maybe the quality of their guesthouse banana pancakes.

[Photo credit: Flickr user DavidDennisPhotos.com]

Where The Hell Is Matt? Gets Zapped By Tesla Cannon

In case you’re unfamiliar with gadabout/YouTube sensation/random dancer Where the Hell is Matt?, I suggest you click here. Or, you can take the easy way out and read this synopsis: Matt Harding is that guy who made a bunch of videos of himself doing a goofy dance in front of various global landmarks, and achieved that peculiar level of fame unique to those who have gone viral.

In the video below, Matt is shown getting bombarded with 10,000 volts of electricity by a Tesla cannon. I had no idea what that is, because my editor just assigned me this post. I’m glad, because I was watching a really bad Greek film on Netflix.

Anyway, a Tesla cannon, according to Fallout Wiki, is a “shoulder-mounted directed energy weapon using technology pioneered by Nikola Tesla.” I also needed to look up who Nikola Tesla was, so don’t feel bad (maybe I should feel bad)?

Matt, we appreciate your taking one for the team in the name of travel. Next, we’d like to see you dance in front of a herd of stampeding Cape buffalo in Uganda.


Travel Cheaper And Smarter With Offmap

Offmap is a new discount travel websiteAdventure travelers now have another option in their never-ending quest to find the best travel deals online. The newly launched website Offmap promises to cutout travel agents and resellers, partner directly with local guides and use innovative technology to deliver trips at deeply discounted prices. Judging from their first few offerings, they just might be on to something.

The site just launched yesterday and requires visitors to create a login profile before they can view the available options. That can be accomplished either by logging in using your Facebook account or by supplying an email address and password. Once you gain access you’ll be able to not only peruse the trips that are currently available, but also invite friends to join the site and read the Offmap Blog as well.

At the moment, Offmap has three itineraries for travelers to consider. Those include a trek through the Peruvian Andes, an active summer escape to Iceland and a short kayaking tour of the Hudson Valley in New York. Trip descriptions give Offmap members a good idea of what to expect on their journeys and include a daily schedule, a list of what is included and information on the tour leaders.

All of that is very interesting and helpful of course but what is likely to catch your eye most quickly are the prices. Offmap says that they can offer up to 70 percent off similar trips from other travel companies and it is hard to argue with them based on what they have available at the moment. For instance, the trip to Peru includes six nights lodging, most meals, a three-day trek through the mountains and a tour of Machu Picchu all for just $850.The Offmap team says that they can achieve these prices by partnering directly with local tour operators and eschewing chain hotels for smaller boutique lodging. But they’ve also come up with an innovative way to engage travelers in a more independent fashion too. Each trip comes with a custom built, interactive guidebook that is currently available as an iPad app or in PDF format. (An iPhone version is coming soon!) These eBooks don’t require an Internet connection to work and include detailed maps, suggestions for self-guided sightseeing tours, tips on dining and nightlife and hints from past travelers. Using the app and local guides, travelers are actually getting an interesting mix of both independent and guided tours.

The site will have just a few travel deals available at any given time and once they’re booked, they’re likely gone. That means if you see something you like, at the price you want, you should book it quickly. You’ll also want to check back on the site on a regular basis to see what new travel deals are available. Check them out at Offmap.com now.

Offmap's electronic guidebooks

New website helps travelers find their next adventure

Adventure travel website Kumutu will help you find your next epic trip!A new website promises to help adventure travelers find their next getaway, as well as discover new destinations they weren’t even aware of. The goal is to connect consumers with tour operators and guide services from around the globe, in an effort to make booking an adventurous holiday all the easier.

The recently launched Kumutu is the brainchild of CEO Ryan Off, who came up with the idea of an adventure travel aggregator after growing frustrated with other online options. The site already has more than 900 adventure travel companies already signed up, and they’re targeting to build that number to 20,000 by the year’s end. That means that consumers will have a wealth of options at their fingertips when it comes to booking their next trip, and online ratings and reviews will help us to decide if the option we are interested in is right for us.

As you would expect with similar websites, Kumutu offers you the option to search by activity, such as cycling, kayaking, mountaineering or by country, with nearly 60 destinations, including Antarctica, currently available. The approach is very straight forward, and easy to understand, with your options being presented in a quick, clean manner.

Perhaps the best way to search is by using the Kumutu map however. When this option is selected, you’re presented with a Google powered view of the world, with specific operators represented with a push-pin on the map. Clicking on a pin in the location of interest gives you a pop-up with a very brief description of the tours on offer. Clicking on the tour operators name will take you to a page that is specific to that company, with far more information about what they do and exactly what kinds of adventures they offer.

Kumutu is a nicely laid out and very easy to use travel aggregator, but we have seen a number of these types of sites pop up over the past year or two, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to stand out in the crowd. If they hit their goal of 20,000 tour operators by the end of the year however, Kumutu could become your one-stop shop for booking all of your future adventures.