Travel

All I want for Christmas

Surprised but chuffed to be asked for my recommendations for Christmas presents from the huge selection available to people flying to and from Heathrow over the holidays.

The airport has launched a gift website www.heathrowgiftlist.com that showcases some of the items you can get at tax free prices on the way in and out of the airport.

You can also win your own gift list in a prize draw if you think you can do better than my choices

Willie Walsh live

At a BA cocktail with The airlines boss, Willie Walsh. He’s talking as I type.

He’s confident merger with Iberia will go through.

It’s been a tough year. Enjoyed the Las Vegas inaugural which was over his birthday. 32 hours of biggest birthday party ever.

New New York all business calss from London City is going well. People have questioned whether they lost their marbles but he is confident it will do well and travel will pull out of recession.

He says dynamic packaging is also doing well for them.

Prize draw for tickets on London city to JFK. Winner are Stephen Bailey and April Hutchinson.

Hotel wi-fi, the latest news…

Support keeps pouring in for the free hotel wi-fi campaign with more messages via email and comments added to the site.

Heather Turner of Forfeng Designs in Connecticut, USA, sent this message:

“As both a frequent traveler and someone who deals with many people in the lodging industry, I wholly support the idea of free WIFI in lodging. I refuse to stay anywhere that charges for it and I think it scare/detracts from many guests booking at places that charge for it.”

And Mr Rajul Chande, Editor, LondonHotelsInsight.com who has launched a sister London campaign after reading about worldofjames.com’s has issued an open letter to hoteliers in the British capital with some bloody good reasoning as to why hotel’s shouldn’t charge for connectivity.

You can read it here:

http://londonhotelsinsight.com/2009/11/11/free-hotel-wifi-an-open-letter-to-hoteliers/

World Travel Market day two – random musings

Slovenia has announced a new cross border initiative with an Italian and an Austrian region. It seems a but strange to have a country teaming up with regions… Did the whole of Austria and Italy not want to join the playingtogether.com campaign where Slovenia is joined by Italy’s Fruilli Venezia Giulia region and Austria’s Carinthia www.playingtogether.com

I interviewed Dubai’s tourism director for the UK and Ireland Ian Scott and he put up a fiery defence of recent attacks on the Emirate. With regard to the infamous sex on the beach case he said: ‘We have 1million Brits coming here a year if you include cruise passengers. You can’t expect them all to be trouble free visits. It’s a bit like the X Factor, everyone is going to have an opinion.’

TUI’s CEO Dermot Blastland was as entertaining as ever at a seminar on what travel will be like in 2023. After jokingly admitting he was getting cabin crew to drop pounds in an effort to cut down flight weights and hence fuel costs he said it is likely the package giant will stop working with hotels that don’t meet certain environmental targets.

How come so many celebs turn up to the show but no one gets told about them? Apparently, Michael Caine and Dannii Minogue were floating round on a couple of the stand but no one seemed to know any details.

I really enjoyed another night of not going to random events but learning more about social media at travelblogcamp (www.travelblogcamp.co.uk) organised by consumer blog www.travel-rants.com. While it felt a little like crashing the school chess club thanks to other  people’s vaster knowledge of the nerdier side of travel, there were some interesting points made… If there was one thing I was surprised by it was that  those who were not corporate bloggers were looking at ways of monetising their blogs. Does no one do it for the love of it? A vow from me? I may try and make money elsewhere on the net but you will never see ads or affiliates on worldofjames.com

World Travel Market day one, random musings

I know I keep banging on about this but the world’s biggest travel expo not offering wireless to journalists is plain daft. The press room has about 40 terminals and wired links for people to plug lap tops into and there are hundreds of journalists all wanting to get online to report back – it just doesn’t work.

And while I’m at it… I’ve had conversations with at two different PRs from mega hotel groups who secretly agree with the free hotel wi-fi campaign… they just need to push their bosses into doing it. It will be a massive PR coup for the first group to offer it universally.

Abu Dhabi’s big announcement at their press conference was the opening of a new global green travel convention in the emirate for December next year. The venue, participants, speakers and content have all yet to be decided… Greenwash to gloss over questionable green, eco and sustainable practices?

The Maldives is opening up to midrange and independent tourism. Given the Indian Ocean country has traditionally kept tourists apart from the muslim population it could be a strategy that causes some unrest when Western ‘decadent’ practices start to spread.

So nice to sit through an Israel press conference for an hour and learn absolutely nothing new. I know they are fighting a battle to attract tourists but I was hoping for some radical announcement on their plans.

Egypt has a new logo and new ad campaign, it all looks flash and the ads are nice… will it attract any more people to go? I doubt it. The opening of the country’s ‘White Med’ coast next year could be an interesting development.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation held their annual awards in a nearby bar after the show closed… a nice event but I do wish they’d make sure the winners were there to pick up their awards.

Good to see about 100 people eschew the traditional Monday night parties and head to the travel tweetup instead… Hoping tonight’s travel blog camp will be equally as interesting.

All hail The Chief

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Me and The Chief

Super excited at World Travel Market in London this morning to meet one of my heroes, former South Africa and Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe.

The Chief was on the South Africa stand at the show, promoting the country’s 2010 World Cup campaign and took five minutes for a picture, some recommendations on where I should go on honeymoon next month and his thoughts on Leeds United.

The former centre half who spent a decade at Elland Road said the Garden Route was a sure-fire hit for the honeymoon but he also urged me to go and see his old team the Kaizer Chiefs.

On his beloved Leeds United, he said the club’s predicament was sad but that he believed Leeds are back on the way up. He did say he had not them team play this season: ‘I’m aiming to go back up soon,’ he said. ‘But there’s no one there I really know any more.’

It was good to see Lucas happily smiling after losing his wife Feziwe to bowel cancer last year and his own mystery illness earlier this year.  He  has launched a charity fund in her honour and also does stellar work with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

BGTW Awards

In contrast to the very very strange World Travel Awards last night, tonight’s British Guild Of Travel Awards was a surprisingly good bash.

My previous experiences of the do have all been very much of the necessary evil type but tonight’s was a nice, relaxed affair where they seemed to get the blend of socialising , schmoozing and the awards part pretty much spot on.

Aside from me not knowing who TV presenter Jenni Falkner was when I was introduced – swallow me up ground – it was a damn good do. Well done Melissa Swales and team for organising. Thanks to our gracious table hosts Siren Pr for a fab night.

Free wi-fi campaign update

Given I was at an award ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London last night and they are still charging £50 for 24 hour internet access, I thought I’d update on the free wi-fi campaign.

A nice message has just come in from Gina who says:

‘Our family has been traveling for the past year and two months,  mainly in South America.   We found an abundance of hostels all over South America with free WiFi access.

I can’t remember being charged once for WiFi access in South America- either they had it or they didn’t.

We have been back in the US for a little over 2 months, still traveling around.  We have stayed mostly in mid-range hotels and have found across the board that the Choice/Clarion/Comfort Hotels don’t charge for WiFi, nor do Days Inn.

We grab a hotel discount guide when we enter a new state, which gives hotels an opportunity to advertise their rates and services.  Interestingly enough, the low-end chains like Super 8 and Motel 6 usually offer free internet as well (although we haven’t stayed in these chains).  It is usually the higher end hotels like Marriot that charge for this service.

I agree with you that if they have WiFi in the hotel, they should offer it as part of their rate.  Like you, free WiFi is at the top of our list of requirements and plays a significant role in where we choose to stay.   Good luck with your campaign!

Gina’

Another message has come in from Rajul Chande who is the editor of LondonHotelsInsight.com.

He’s put together a list of hotels that offer free wi-fi in London on his blog…

Check it out here…

http://londonhotelsinsight.com/2009/11/06/the-good-guys-top-rated-london-hotels-with-free-wifi/

and keep them coming please!!