Sep 30, 2008

The Best Travel Tips Come From Other Travelers

This is why Lonely Planet and sites like it are so popular. Travelers want to know where to go and stay mainly from those who have been there because fellow travelers usually do not have an agenda. Some think hotels or discounters and their sites have an agenda and certainly won't tell you the WHOLE truth. While this may well be true, it does not mean hotel review sites are to be ignored. In fact, they should be used BEFORE you choose a property or lock yourself into a choice without doing research.
The reason for this is to get a more comprehensive overview of a property. If you combine a hotels own internet site (where understandably they are intent on putting their best foot forward) with other neutral sources, you should be able to piece together a commendable part of the travel puzzle - choosing where to stay.
For instance, some people choose by price - some by location, some by amenities and some by intangibles like highly rated properties or personally recommended hotels. But what is a personal recommendation worth anyway? It is nothing more than an opinion, albeit a valued one of you know the person well. Buit let me ask you this: If you knew the exact perfect place you wanted to stay in
Hawaii because it was recommended by others and had everything you wanted including price and location, would you NOT stay there because a good friend had a horrible billing experience at the same place?
This is the problem with hotel reviews - they can be personal yet useless. A tremendous help or a rant to be ignored. What is needed is for you the traveler to clearly DECIPHER what reviewers are saying and then make a logical determination from them. Some people do not want to take the time to search for reviews so they go with the 'numbers'. Discount sites use a 1-5 system with 5 being fantastic. So what if you find a property with a 4.3 but they only have 3 reviews? Is that an enough of a sample from which to really form an opinion? What if a property has 25 reviews but the average is 3.1 - just a little over the average mark. This obviously means as many people liked the property as didn't like it. Does this help a lot?

There is an art to travel if you look at it from the standpoint of making it as easy on yourself as possible. Reviews do this but the fact remains that not all review sites are equal and neither are all reviews. In the end, it can simply come down to numbers (which is a valid criteria) or gut feelings. I tend to use both in my analysis but then I realize the more research you do up front, the more enjoyable your trip usually turns out to be.
David C. Reynolds is a longtime veteran of the Hotel business who offers common sense, money saving advice on how to find rooms, booking hotels as cheap as possible, travel and ground transportation tips, understanding hotel reviews and occasional destination 'specials'.
He is the author of three travel tips books as well as a blog devoted to travel. If you would like more information about understanding reviews,
visit his blog at
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Sep 28, 2008

International Conference Calling

In our modern day world conferencing is an efficient way of doing business. In this day and age it's safer to use a conference call than to travel. Its also much more cost efficient. Ideal for family conferencing and rapid problem solving in the business arena. The current US average cost for either local or international conference calls is $0.15 to $0.30/min with a limit of 6 legs. Broadband phones now have full conferencing service and video conference capability. Here are the major benefits of doing business using a conference call:-
  • Quick.
  • Cheap.
  • Facilitates crisis management and rapid or fast track problem solving.
  • Eliminates travel, car hire and hotel bills.
  • Informs all the attendees simultaneously.
  • Spread company ethos.
  • Training and seminars
  • Facilitates idea sharing and multiple input for problem solving.
  • Prevents multiple individual calls by sharing information in one call.
  • Attendees have access to all their papers and information.
  • Have scheduled times.
  • Can be held regularly
  • Can be held wherever there is a telephone.