Harbin Ice Festival China

The Chinese city of Harbin is preparing for its annual ice festival. This year is the 30th anniversary.
Harbin, in north east China has built an ice city using 180,000 square metres of ice and 150,000 square metres of snow.
Watch the video below which is currently featured in the travel section of The Guardian.




You can visit the Harbin Ice Festival as part of a Winter Wonderland China tour organised by our clients Travel Local.

Travel Local Appoints Simply Clicks for SEO Campaign

IndoChina River Boat Travel Local

IndoChina River Boat Travel Local

Asian travel specialist Travel Local has appointed Simply Clicks to handle their organic search marketing activity. The deal was essentially sealed at this year’s World Travel Market in London.

Travel Local specialises in authentic private tours in Central Asia and the Silk Route, the Indian sub-continent, China, Taiwan and Mongolia and IndoChina and south east Asia. The full list of destinations includes the following destinations:

Central Asia, The Silk Route & The Caucasus

  • Georgia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tajikistan

SE Asia & Indochina

  • Vietnam
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • Cambodia

Indian Subcontinent

  • Sri Lanka
  • India

China & Mongolia

  • Mongolia
  • China
  • Taiwan

The key point of difference for Travel Local is that they utilise local travel companies to organise local transportation.  Organising travel components locally leads to a better, more authentic trip – as no-one knows a country like a travel company based there. UK consumer payments are protected by the Travel Trust Association.

Simply Clicks was appointed to handle Travel Local’s PPC management in September.

Morzine Catered Chalets Promotion

We are now into the middle third of September and already the talk amongst friend is of the upcoming ski season. I have already booked a catered chalet holiday with a group of 14 friends. A few cold early autumn days and it is obvious that winter and the dark evenings are on their way. Skiing makes the winter seem so much brighter. What more to brighten friendly discussion than talk of an additional ski holiday, especially one that involves a touch of luxury.

Hot Tub at  the Chalet Les Lanchettes Morzine

Hot Tub at the Chalet Les Lanchettes Morzine

With that in mind, I notice that Adventure Base have a Morzine catered chalet promotion. The best deal involves taking a ski break soon after the New Year. 5th January to be exact. It may still be cold and dark in the Portes du Soleil at that time of year but the price on offer is just £560 per person for a full week’s accommodation at the Chalet Les Lanchettes. The price includes airport transfers from Geneva, in resort transfers and full catering.

Chalet Les Lanchettes is one of the most luxurious catered chalets in Morzine, including, amongst other things, a roof terrace hot tub. As the following description illustrates the chalet is extremely well equipped:

Chalet Les Lanchettes Overview

  • 3 double/twin rooms and 2 quad rooms
  • Sleeps 10-14 people
  • All rooms with en suite showers
  • UK TV and Wi-Fi
  • Hot tub
  • Ski locker with boot dryer
  • Ski back to chalet
  • Just 5 minutes from the Prodains ski lift to Avoriaz

Chalet Les Lanchettes Morzine Description

Chalet Basement

  • Boot room and ski locker

Ground floor

  • Spacious living and dining area to relax after a full days skiing
  • The kitchen is tucked away from the living room, allowing you to unwind while our chalet staff get dinner prepared
  • Terrace with hot tub
  • Bedrooms 1, 2 and 3 all with ensuite facilities

Top floor

  • Bedrooms 4 and 5. These large spacious bedrooms sleep up to 4 people.

Morzine is well placed in the Portes du Soleil ski domain, adjacent to Avoriaz and close to the Swiss border. It’s possible to take the Prodains gondala up to Avoriaz and ski over into Switzerland. The current price may not be around for long. So get your skis on!

Completely Croatia Gets Guardian Traffic Boost

Completely Croatia, the specialist Croatia holidays tour operator, received a welcome website traffic boost from The Guardian newspaper. The Guardian featured an article on 10th June covering the filming locations of TV show Game of Thrones. Although the article is largely focused on filming locations in Northern Ireland, the article also mentioned locations in Croatia, including Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island.

Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most popular holiday destination. Lokrum Island, although available for visits has no overnight tourist accommodation.

Dubrovnik Old Town and Banje Beach

Dubrovnik Old Town and Banje Beach

The web analytics show a large number of visitors have clicked on the website link on Guardian.co.uk. The analytics of the Completely Croatia site indicate that the average Guardian visitor looked at 4.26 pages. The Croatia tour operator also received one direct online enquiry from The Guardian link.

Penguin 2.0 Update Impacts Travel Websites in Big Way

Three weeks since the introduction of the Google Penguin 2.0 update and there have been major impacts observed on several leading travel industry websites including travel agents, tour operators and airlines. The data for both click volume changes and percentage change in total link volume comes from a report shown on eConsultancy that tracks the top 25 winners and losers of click volume since the launch of the Penguin 2.0 update. The surprising issue is the number of travel industry sites that feature. Five of the winners and six of the losers come from the travel industry.

Penguin 2.0 Biggest Travel Winners

  1. TeletextHolidays.co.uk +68,228 +68%
  2. HolidayHypermarket.co.uk +26,621 +105%
  3. AlphaRooms.com +22,808 +1,000%
  4. TravelRepublic.co.uk +11,246 +176%
  5. Monarch.co.uk 9,192 +57%

Total travel industry winners = 138,095 clicks.

Penguin 2.0 Biggest Travel Losers

  1. IceLolly.com-105,712  <-75%
  2. SunMaster.co.uk -22,230 <-75%
  3. Cheapoair.co.uk -17,094 <-75%
  4. GlobalLateDEals.com -12,900 <-75%
  5. BestforTravel.co.uk -10,726 <-75%
  6. DirectLineHolidays.co.uk -7,385 -65%

Total travel industry losers = 176,047

The balance of lost traffic totals 37,952 clicks. This would imply that the lost search visitor traffic has been spread out amongst a wider range of winners than the small number identified here. On its own, the search visitor losses of IceLolly.com account for more than three-quarters of the gains made by the top 5 winners. Interestingly one term, “Cheap holidays”, apparently accounts for a large proportion of this loss. IceLolly.com ranked 1st for this term prior to the Penguin 2.0 update and a manual check shows it currently ranks 35 for the term.

I suspect that the biggest issue surrounding Penguin 2.0 is the devaluation of sitewide links. I have yet to carry out any analysis into the sites in the eConsultancy tables but suspect that devaluing certain classes of links is perhaps the source of much of the change.

A wider issue is the impact of the loss in site visitors. And the impact that this has on each individual travel business. Each of these travel businesses has lost between 65% and 75% of their organic search traffic. If I get time, I will return to further analyse the causes behind the changes.

April Ski Deals from Adventure Base

Adventure Base, the Chamonix and Morzine chalet specialist, has some fantastic deals for late April skiing. The April ski deals involve both catered and self-catered chalets as well as two luxury apartments that feature a hot tub.

MORZINE – PORTES DU SOLEIL

14th April

Chalet Lanchettes Morzine now available self catered – Whole Chalet £2,000.

Chalet La Cordee Morzine now available self catered – Whole Chalet £2,300

Apartment La Galerie Morzine 50% off! – Whole apartment now £1,000 Self catered.

Apartment Le Petit Balcon Morzine 50% off! – Whole apartment now £800 Self catered.

CHAMONIX – MONT BLANC

14th April

Melee Apartment Argentiere 6 person 20% OFF – Whole apartment now £1,440 Self
catered.

Melee Apartment Argentiere 8 person 20% OFF – Whole apartment now £1,760 Self
catered.

Chalet Viper Chamonix
20% OFF – Whole Chalet now £1,232 Self catered, £2,808 Fully catered.

Chalet Iceman Chamonix
20% OFF – Whole Chalet now £780 Self catered, £1,900 Fully catered.

Chalet Maverick Chamonix
Catered 20% OFF – Whole Chalet now £2,785 Fully catered.
Now available self catered – Whole Chalet £1,500.

21st April

Melee Apartment Argentiere 6 person 20% OFF – Whole apartment now £1,440 Self
catered.

Melee Apartment Argentiere 8 person 20% OFF – Whole apartment now £1,760 Self
catered.

Chalet Viper Chamonix
Up to 50% OFF – Whole Chalet now £1,000 Self catered.

Chalet Slider Chamonix
Up to 50% OFF – Whole Chalet now £750 Self catered.

Chalet Iceman Chamonix
Up to 50% OFF – Whole Chalet now £620 Self catered.

Chalet Maverick Chamonix
Now available SELF CATERED!!! – Whole Chalet £1,100 Self catered.

Croatia Holidays Featured by The Independent

The Independent 6th April 2013 - Croatia Holidays Challenge

The Independent Croatia Holidays Challenge

Croatia holidays were back in the national news last weekend. The Independent national newspaper featured a Croatia holidays break in their weekly Travel Challenge on 6th April. See image to the left. The weekly challenge is where The Independent invites three holiday companies to offer their best break for a specific destination.

The timing of the Croatia coastal break was for a 7 day holiday that included the May Bank holiday weekend and had to include flights from Gatwick and transfers to the accommodation. Our client, Completely Croatia took part in the challenge along with two rival tour operators.

Completely Croatia offered the most upmarket of the three holidays. Featuring a stay at the 5 star Hotel More Dubrovnik, as well as a tour of the old city of Dubrovnik. The price of the Completely Croatia holiday totalled £829 per person. The flights were with Easyjet. Their competitors offered less luxurious accommodation and lower prices.

PM’s Indian Trip Leads to Criticism

Hot on the heels of all the other controversy surrounding David Cameron’s trip to India, we now have the Chief Executive of UK Inbound adding to the criticism of the Prime Minister. Mary Rance, the executive of the UK’s inbound tourism agency, has stated that she believes it is the current high levels of Air Passenger Duty (APD) that is really the problem holding back trade and tourism between the two countries. She claims that the UK’s high level of flight taxes is deterring Indian families from travelling to the UK.

A recent Visit Britain press release stated Indian tourist numbers to the UK have dropped from 371,000 in 2010 to 348,000 in 2012.

 Mary Rance, chief executive of UKinbound, said: “Visitors from India spend on average £900 per stay in the UK, about 60% more than the average visitor, a considerable contribution to the country’s finances.

“The combination of APD and the cumbersome, expensive visa process are a disincentive for anyone planning to visit the UK and certainly do not help the Prime Minister to convey the message that Britain welcomes businesses and tourists.”

India has a strong visiting friends and relatives relationship with the UK. But with flight taxes rising at the UK end and Indian Visa prices rising at the instigation of the Indian Government, it seems both governments are squeezing as much as possible from both business and leisure travel between the two countries.

Visas Become Political Hot Potato

Visas have become a political hot potato over recent weeks. On the one hand we have the business lobby arguing for more relaxed approaches to visas. This lobby, made up of a coalition of travel industry insiders and business agencies such as the CBI, argues that the UK government is making the UK unattractive to wealthy foreign investors and deterring expert employees from applying for jobs in the UK. On the other you have the hang’em and flog’em brigade demanding ever tighter controls over who should be let into the country. Meanwhile, governments both at home and abroad, see international travel as a politically expedient tax raising cash cow ready to be tapped at every opportunity.

Only six weeks ago it was announced that the Indian government was raising the price of Indian visas. It seemed to me that the Indian government was only getting its fair share of the Indian visa food chain as tourism from the UK to India grows. This week we have an alliance of tour and airport operators arguing that the stringent rules on visa entry from China is encouraging Chinese tourists to go elsewhere in Europe and exclude the UK from their travel plans. The airports, in the guise of the Airports Operators Association are involved because, apart from landing fees, Chinese tourists are apparently some of the biggest spenders at airport shops. The Airport Operators Association and the UK Travel Retail Forum have written to George Osborne.

There is no doubt that the UK government takes Britain’s overseas business interests very seriously. India, China and the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are one of the few current sources of substantial trade growth. Last week saw British Prime Minister, David Cameron, visit India. Cameron declared that Britain was open for business as he led a 100 plus business delegation to India. According to the Daily Telegraph’s report, India is worthy of special attention from the Prime Minister because of its size and the fact that English is widely spoken. Too tight a constraint on Indian visas risks choking off this potential growth.

2013 ABTA Convention Starts a Day Early

ABTA have announced today that the 2013 ABTA Travel Convention is to start a day earlier than previously announced. The announcement was included with the publication of the outline flight and business schedule for the 2013 Travel Convention, which appeared this morning.

ABTA Travel Convention 2013
The Official ABTA Convention 2013 Schedule

The convention in Dubrovnik, Croatia, will now take place from 20th to 22nd October 2013. The event officially gets underway with a ship visit for agents on the morning of Sunday 20th October. Sunday’s official business concludes with the traditional welcome party and bar.

The first official business session gets underway on Monday morning. The event is centred on The Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, a large hotel with 308 rooms and suites.The final business session closes at 16:00 on Tuesday 22nd October.

The biggest event of the convention is likely to be the Host Party, hosted by the Croatian Tourist Board, which takes place on Monday evening, 21st October.

Apart from the Croatian Tourist Board, the other main sponsors appear to be Cosmos, Fred Olsen Cruises and the Daily Telegraph. Cosmos launched its Croatia holiday programme whilst I was their Sales and Marketing Director. They have been big supporters of both ABTA and Croatia. So it is good to see them taking a prominent position.

As mentioned several times before on this website, the UK market for Croatia holidays is booming. UK tourists were up 24% in 2012. In hosting the ABTA travel convention, the Croatia Tourist Board are making a real attempt to move Croatia into the UK travel industry mainstream.