Tech/Travel News Commentary for May 15 2012


My quick analysis finds Expedia to be the strongest U.S. Travel Booking Brand. I used this very cool trick from Avinash Kaushik’s latest blog entry to measure brand strength. Since there’s no way to directly measure brand strength using standard quantitative analytics tools, Avinash shows how to use unaided brand recall as a proxy (it’s a great proxy—if people can remember your brand without being prompted, you’ve got a strong brand). He uses Google Insights for Search to measure the number of searches for your brand, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time for your product category.  I tried out his technique using some of the most popular U.S. Online Travel Agents/Search Engines. I’m happy to report that Expedia has had the highest brand strength in the U.S. over the past 12 months.


Relative Brand Strengths of some U.S. Online Travel Agencies
Relative Brand Strengths of some U.S. Online Travel Agencies


Here’s a plot of Brand Strength over time generated by Insights for Search. (Click to enlarge.)


Brand Strength over time for some U.S. Online Travel Agencies
Brand Strength over time for some U.S. Online Travel Agencies


Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Here’s an example of how a small travel destination with limited resources can use skill and creativity to get some publicity. Check out this entry in the Google Earth Model Your Town completion:


Groupon’s Getaways joint program with Expedia is going gangbusters, offering 45% more deals for 2012-Q1 versus 2011-Q4. And 30% of buyers were first-time Groupon customers.


SEATAC’s new Car Rental Facility garners high praise. The travel enthusiasts at Jaunted call it “Slick and Sexy.”


One of the latest trends in online travel is affinity search, in which, for example, your travel search engine finds hotels meeting your criteria that are near a Point of Interest. But who knew that popular Points of Interest would include Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets? Please excuse our search teams while they go add a Whole lot more of locations to our Geo databases.

USA Today Travel

Zagat survey ranks Hertz tops in auto rental

USA Today Travel

Newly launched Flight+ is Apple’s App of the Week. It tracks any flight on a map in near-real-time, shows interactive terminal maps, gives options for cancelled flights and syncs with TripIt


After reading Budget Travel’s story on a Rental Car Accident in Mexico, I think I’ll take a taxi. You need to understand what insurance to buy and even then, you won’t be covered for a required cash settlement if you are found to be at fault for causing an injury.


Joel Oleson takes his family to northern Thailand with a day trip to Myanmar and writes up his usual interesting trip report.

Traveling Epic



Outlets including the Wall Street Journal are reporting that GM has decided to stop advertising on Facebook, because GM’s marketing team determined that its Facebook ads haven’t met expectations. However, sources say that GM’s ad Facebook ad strategy was suboptimal and that competitors like Ford have had success there.


Perhaps the chief drawback of Google’s popular Android mobile OS has been fragmentation as hundreds of thousands of permutations of the freely available OS are rolled out in different versions by different manufacturers on a multitude of devices. The developers of OpenSignalMaps have prepared a striking visualization that illustrates the problem.


Google may be tweaking its Android strategy to reduce fragmentation and improve end user experience. Reports say that Android 5.0 “Jelly Bean” will be launched on as many as 5 “Nexus” branded phones from different manufacturers. This is similar to the model Microsoft has used for Windows Phone. If the approach works, Google will chip away at one of the advantages of Microsoft’s less commercially successful ecosystem.


Everyone should not learn how to code, says Jeff Atwood, author of one of my favorite blogs, Coding Horror. I think he has a point. Not everyone is cut out to be a coder and we need people to be good at other things, like teaching and plumbing.

Coding Horror Blog

Follow the path of a single Gmail messages from beginning to end in this Google multimedia presentation and learn details about datacenters, spam filtering and more.


Just One More: A partially self-replicating milling machine. We software folks have been using programming languages to write themselves since Hart and Levin wrote Lisp in Lisp at MIT in 1962. Now the hardware hackers are working on doing the same thing.


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