THIS JUST IN
Travel Bloggers Speak-Up
Budget Travel Online held a roundtable discussion with today's top travel bloggers on September 13, 2006, at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. Here is a transcript of the discussion. It has been edited for length and clarity.
MICHELLE PRELI, General Manager: Budget Travel Online: I thank everyone for joining us tonight. I am a new addition to the Budget Travel team and I am very happy to be here in such a creative and exciting time in the industry.
This is kind of an anniversary party for us, and we've had a great first year so far. We've got a lot more planned in the future with a lot of exciting features, so you have to stay tuned for those, and I hope you log on over the next couple of months because we will be rolling them out.
As you know, the web has proven to be a really useful tool for travelers, which is why we're here tonight and we've assembled our panel. The rise of travel blogs and web sites really brings a lively new dimension to the industry in how travelers get their information. There's a big hunger out there for the information delivered in a way that people can access all the time. So we invited these fine folks here tonight to talk about how they actually cover destinations and how they interact with their readers, and how they've impacted the industry and given this new, kind of independent travel voice a hearing. I'm calling them bloggers, but I will let them tell us if they prefer a different term.
We have Mark Johnson from HotelChatter.com, and also he's the founder and -- you can applaud.
He brought his own personal fan club.
He's the founder and publisher of HotelChatter.com as well as Jaunted.com, which is a travel site as well. So, if you check out HotelChatter.com you'll find everything from great service information such as Good Rate/Bad Rate, which is a feature they have comparing hotel rooms in the same city to see where you can get the best value. They also have -- which I love -- "Room With an Anti-View," because we have all been in one of those. They also do some nice investigations. They have been in the forefront, for instance, of the hotel bed bug coverage, which is no small feat. They have participated in other media coverage of that. You will find some other things discussed there, too, like, you know, did Nicole Kidman really demand they change the light bulbs in her hotel room? I want to know!
Next we have Erik Olsen, and he is editor of Gadling.com. Gadling spans the world. It dispatches its folks actually on the ground there. With things like "Photo of the Day" and "Word for the Travel-Wise" you get a kind of cultural view of the destination. For instance, I read today that there's a World Toilet Summit in Moscow happening! But I also read about Museum Day on December 30th, which is very practical information -- and for all you out there who want to participate -- there are nearly 500 museums that will be opening their doors to everyone for free. So, it really spans the gamut.
Next we have Randy Petersen, who I am very pleased could be here. He jetted in for us. Thank you very much, Randy. He is an expert on something that really every traveler is concerned with these days, which is frequent flyer programs. He has a new book out on the subject called "Mileage Probe" and that's to help us make every mile count. If you go onto his website you'll find a host of forums dealing with every aspect of loyalty programs, and in the blog section of his site you'll learn things like how you can actually transfer Delta miles among other Sky Mile members, which are all useful things to do. So, we thank him for being here, too.
Last but not least we have Joshua David Stein. He's the editor of Gridskipper.com, and he took over the helm of that site this past July and he is still standing. Gridskipper, if you haven't checked it out, bills itself as "an urban travel guide" and it really does cover all parts of the travel experience from night life to shopping to dining, in a very lively and cheeky way, is that accurate?
MR. STEIN: Yes.
MS. PRELI: Okay --
-- and I will mention that you can log on and vote for the world's sexiest city. You have that up there now?
MR. STEIN: Yes.
MS. PRELI: So you can vote for that, and I do have to mention that since today is Wednesday -- I always on the following Thursday, I check out "This Week on the Runway," which is a wrap up of the Project Runway show on your site, and so we are missing that tonight to be here.