Friday, 28 December 2012

Gay French Riviera: EuroPride 2013 Marseille

Gay French Riviera: EuroPride 2013 Marseille: Start making your travel plans now, because EuroPride 2013 next July 10 - 20th in Marseille is going to be nothing less than spectacular...

The South of France - what a place to hold European's biggest gay event. Check out this Gay Riviera blog for more details.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Thank you - & Merry Christmas

Dear all my readers,

Thank you ever so much for making my year. It's been one amazing experience, traveling to new destinations, rediscovering those I have been to before. Meeting new people, finding new ways to travel, and writing this content has just been a pleasure and watching my numbers of visitors significantly increase has just been one fantastic feeling.

So THANK YOU.

I wish you all, your family and friends an amazing Christmas.

Happy Holidays

Ryan

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Scandinavian operators pull rooms from Expedia

Scandinavian operators pull rooms from Expedia

Telling the story of rate parity - or is it price fixing. Should hotels be forced to sell at the same price on all channels? Should they have full autonomy when it comes to pricing their rooms, or be influenced by third party sellers.

What strikes me here is that the hotels are trying to remain independent and control of their rates, however they are being forced to comply to BAR pricing structures, that provides little benefit. OTAs too are failing to recognise their strength, they are not just a hotel booking engine but a full travel product booking engine. They need to look at providing transparent, and engaging travel packages where they can earn better commission from a combination of products, rather than singularly selling products.

This will allow the industry to diversify away from rate parity...but will it really catch on?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gay Market News.: More Trouble For IGLTA

Gay Market News.: More Trouble For IGLTA:

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association has careered from one crisis to the next this year - but the troubles appear to be far from over. Concerns have been raised for the very survival of the IGLTA. 

2012 has seen an almost continuous sequence of serious problems. Here are just a few of those: 

  • continuing resignations of important IGLTA personnel
  • IGLTA's disastrous consumer outreach program 
  • members being stripped of voting rights
  • ongoing corporate governance problems
  • members goaded into paying a fee for a report available for free from a partner organisation
  • ethics allegations against the Board which are unanswered - and unresolved.  

Now, new questions are being raised as to the veracity of IGLTA's claimed membership numbers.

The escalating series of bad management decisions is causing many to wonder how the association they once cared about has become such a shambles. As 2012 draws to a close that is sadly the situation faced by what was once the premier organization representing global LGBT tourism. This year has seen a slow and continuing decline result from a series of poor management and Board decisions. 

How many real members?

Read the rest here

Monday, 17 December 2012

A pre-Christmas weekend in Madrid


There's nothing like visiting a different city ahead of Christmas. Last year I went to Leon and experienced the Fete des Lumieres. This time I headed to the Capital of Spain to enjoy the markets, tapas, festive spirit in a country whose fortunes are not what they were.

Yet the city shopping streets were packed; stores busy with shoppers hunting for Christmas gifts, and families filling the streets with children in awe at the Christmas decorations. The city lit up at this time of year really made a difference to the dark, drab, quiet streets when I visited earlier in the year during January.


Saturday I visit Chueca Market, newly renovated in the past few years, this market was falling a part and losing it's appeal. However with a complete refurbishment it is now a popular meeting place to enjoy tapas from the varied international cuisine food outlets and that of the best of Spanish; fish counters are certainly not worth missing. Stop and enjoy a lunch and some wine.

Later in the evening stopping by Mercado de San Miguel. Another renovated market busy with people early on a Saturday evening, tasting sherry, tucking into tapas and enjoying small entries of the Spanish taste.

Sunday, other than shopping, it was time to explore the history of Madrid in shape of the ancient Egyptian temple of Debod, given to the Spanish in 1968. Set on top of the hill in the city in direct line of the long summer sunsets. This is worth a visit as it's fascinating to learn how they transport and rebuild a 2,200 year old temple - and it's position has been well designed.

The locals of Madrid were in full spirits, showing the city at its best.

Friday, 14 December 2012

eRevMax – RateTiger on Channel Management and OTAs

eRevMax – RateTiger on Channel Management and OTAs

Check out my interview

Eating out in Calais - a real french experience

When I was in Calais I came across this fantastic restaurant that I must tell you about. So if you go to Calais, visit this traditional French restaurant. They have a lovely set menu for €30 inclusive of wine and aperitif with the real mountain experience.
Newly refurbished, Le Ch'ti Charivari, is set in the heart of Calais town between all the other restaurants. There are others across the country.

Check it out: www.chticharivari.eu




Thursday, 13 December 2012

Gay French Riviera: Mama Shelter - Marseille

Gay French Riviera: Mama Shelter - Marseille: I am told Marseille can be a very secretive city.  That in order to find the coolest people, places and events you have to find that one person who will let you in on a secret that will lead you to all the exciting stuff.

If that really is the case, then here is an easy way to get a head start on all that, check into Mama Shelter!


Check out full details

Last minute holiday planning - Gran Canaria - the gay tacky holiday type, or is it?

Tacky if you had planned to go trekking across Israel and Jordan, before tensions grew with Palestine - it was an amazing itinerary: the crusade of Indiana Jones was planned to visit Petra, while visiting the gay nightlife of Tel Aviv (okay not very Doctor Jones, but very me!)

So, hardly wanting to put my life beyond reasonable danger, nor on hold, I opted to make a quick emergency change to my travel plans. with 8 days before departure and Christmas on the side, this was an unwelcome prospect....so how did I do it

Facebook
Without a doubt my friends saved me from making the worst mistake.
- "Where Shall I go", I cried....

I received expensive long-haul options and challenging short-haul destinations. I had only 8 days, 6 of them working long days in the office, the other 2 a pre-booked weekend of DIY...I had no time to plan. It had to be simple, needed little research as possible.

Thus, several mentioned of Gran Canaria, a small island with all-year-round sun part of Spain but off the coast of North West Africa - I was told it had a big gay scene, with great weather and beautiful landscape and country-side. I was sold.



Flights
I had already booked cheap flights to Tel Aviv with EasyJet, how was I going to change this? would I lose my money - £200? No! EasyJet were a godsend and changed my flights to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. I lost maybe £30 and my £50 pre-booked and paid for car parking, but at least I was going away. Their change policy seemed straight-forward, and I would recommend anyone calling them if they have a problem. Their customer service is excellent.

Accommodation
Here I made an error and I would encourage people to take heed of this advice. Don't go for the cheapest non-refundable rate, in most cases the difference is only a few pound/euros/dollars.

Fortunately all but 1 of my hotels were refundable, I lost one night's accommodation, for a measly £5 saving! (in total I lost £50)


It was then - do I opt for Hotel or Self-catered? Didn I want cheap buffet style meals at the hotel, or the option to cook my own?

I opted for an apartment, near the Yumbo, the gay area - I was advised it would be central to the gay nightlife. They couldn't be more right, plus I heard nothing from my apartment, it was so quiet, clean and large. This 2 bedroom apartment was maybe a little too big for me, but certainly good for the price.




Car Rental
Well this was perhaps my biggest black hole money pit. I wouldn't advise for your first visit, especially if it is a week. I used the car only for airport return (€80) and two day trips exploring the island through the bendy road between the hills of the former volcano. I used it to also go to the beach, which was an 'okay' walk. I spent £160 which was not worth it for one person (£66 to rent + £40 for insurance + €85 petrol - I only used half a tank).

They do have brilliant bike hire schemes here, and I would advise this any day. A great selection including Cannondale, Specialised and Cervelo. The roads are't busy and if you like to challenge yourself, Gran Canaria is perfect.




Itinerary
You will probably spend 2 - 3 days nursing hangovers after a 6am party finish, 2 days on the beach and 2 days by the pool - any remainder day I would suggest you take an excursion - there was a gay boat trip, unfortunately it wasn't running, but they can arrange a boat tour for you.

Day 1

Land, out for dinner in Yumbo at 10.30pm, on to bar-hopping end at Mykonos and Mantrix
Finish at 4am - DRUNK
 
Day 2
Discover the sand dunes and the gay nudist beach - bit chilly and windy but bearable - siesta, then out for dinner and party from 9.30pm
RETURN @ 6am

Day 3
Run to the beach over the dunes - meet the boys, bath, get hit by a sand storm (very small but not nice)), head to the apartment pool, sangria - head to sauna - then dinner
Early night, 10.30pm - KNACKERED

Day 4
Early rise, coffee and breakfast on the balcony
Head to beach, then siesta
Head out for dinner and party at Yumbo 10pm, out to Drag show
Back - 6am - DRUNK

Day 5
Lunchtime rise, drive out to the country with lads, Spanish tapas
Quiet night in Yumbo, meant to be an early night - finish at 4.30pm

Day 6
Day by the pool, early meal at 9.30pm, out to party - Drag show
Back @ 9am

Day 7
Sat by the pool, slept - back for a 2hour siesta
In bed by 11pm - KNACKERED

Day 8
Big drive to the highest point in Gran Canaria, climbing for 1.5 hours.
Lunch in San Mateo, Shopping in Yumbo
Siesta for 2 hours
Dinner at 9pm - Out to Drag show
Back at 5am

Day 9
Packing, Beach, half chicken with chips & salad €3.90
Left for Airport










Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My feet get wet in Vietnam - my first steps in water of the East

This was one exciting moment for me - dipping my toes in water of Asia. Okay, so it felt little different to any other sea water, but being so far from home made me realise the vastness of this great Earth!

Gay Kiss on TV - American Race competition

amazing-race-gay-couple-wins-6What a great way to start the day, learning of a couple who won the American Race TV competition, who happened to be gay and confidently gave one another a celebratory kiss live on TV all in the moment. Not a care in the world - a natural sight and one that should be celebrated.

Well done lads!

For more http://americablog.com/2012/12/gay-couple-wins-amazing-race-big-prime-time-smooch-gmail-crashes.html

Monday, 10 December 2012

Cost of Distribution: Out of control or a real expense

By Michael McCartan, Chief Executive Officer, eRevMax International

2013 could be a turbulent year for the hotel industry should the price-fixing fiasco take a further step forward. Proving yet again, following the collapse of the financial markets in 2008 and 9/11, that while hospitality maybe an old industry dating 1000’s years, the environment of online sales is still in its infancy and terribly immature.

Online travel sales channels have taken as much as they can since the internet launch of 1995 subjecting properties to insane rates of commission during tough trading periods – that made these resellers big beasts and created a David and Goliath scenario. Big brands have at various times tried to contend by withdrawing from these sites which resulted in lost market share and reduced volume bookings. Yet it wasn’t only the hotels who suffered, these sales channels couldn’t live without their big brands either. Hotels have found their way to handle their Goliath, but is he someone they have to live with?

On both sides of the Atlantic there’s be a tough price war- between the consumer and hotel to push rates lower, and between hotels and suppliers to get the Best Available Rate, resulting in this accusation of ‘price-fixing’ within the industry. Whatever the result of the current inquiries in Europe and America times are changing, as even Expedia appears to look to move from its traditional Merchant model to Agency model.

These changes, with the constraints of rate parity removed, could be the start of hoteliers gaining back control of their prices and inventory as they focus on developing relevant products for the selected resale channels to make the best yield possible. But the challenge now is retaining occupancy while pushing that revenue up, without being caught in the crossfire of commission rates and volume booking websites.
For the article: http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3210/cost-of-distribution-out-of-control-or-a-real-expense

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Snow snow go go - gay ski gearing up for 2013: Gay Snowhappening meets Hannibal

Solden: Annual Gay Ski Week
6 - 13 April 2013

Sölden, November 2012 – It‘s a very special time of the year when Annemarie warmly
invites her gay guests to the Hühnersteign Mountain Hut where an atmospheric après-ski
happening awaits them, when internationally renowned Gay DJs entering the turntables for
popular house music parties and handsome gay sportsmen running the slopes on skis or
snowboards together: Tirol’s Ötztal Valley is getting ready for the next edition of the
ultimate Gay Snowhappening. Gays & friends from all over Europe are going to meet in
sporty Sölden already for the 15th time! The program includes plenty of skiing and
snowboarding, endless parties and fun-filled highlights scheduled between 6 - 13 April 2013.

The 2013 Gay Snowappening will see an undisputed highlight: for the very first time guests
of the Gay Snowhappening have the chance to visit the avant-garde theater spectacle
“Hannibal” performed on the Rettenbach Glacier Stage. The admission to the event is
included in the Gay Snowhappening Event Pass. Snow-grooming machines are elephants,
skiers in the role of modern warriors, climbers and parachutists enter the scene as well.
Riders on skidoos cross the Alpine glacier landscape while flight acrobats try to hinder them
heading towards the South. A truly unique and outstanding spectacle featuring top-notch
light effects, music and video shows coupled with pyrotechnical attractions. Hannibal will
take place on Friday, 12 April. For videos and more details on the glacier stage please check
www.hannibal.soelden.com.

The entire week boasts top events and action-packed programs in a row: entertaining ski
and snowboard days promise a varied ski holiday – boredom is literally unknown! Among
the most entertaining highlights ranks the jovial Hut Evening at Annemarie’s Hühnersteign.
Please book your tickets already in advance as there is a limited number of guests. Several
events and cosmopolitan programs are scheduled at night – like top DJs from Cologne,
London and Tel Aviv or the popular 2013 Sinners Party from Munich. Of course welcome and
farewell parties take place at Bierhimml and Snowrock-Café has its special karaoke night.
Many other attractions await you as well: fun race, fondue evening, moonlight bowling or
taking a bath in the giant Hot Pot!

Last but not least, the famous Drag Queens Melli Magic and Mataina from Berlin will appear
as incomparable drag artists on Sölden’s stage - performing their charming and funny
entertainment. The ultimate Gay Snowhappening has already become one of the undisputed
highlights of Sölden’s ski season, being a part of the scenery like the area’s scenic 3000-
meter high mountain peaks.

More detailed information available at:
www.gaysnowhappening.com
www.facebook.com/gaysnowhappening

Friday, 23 November 2012

Taking on the Spartan Beast - London, Brandshatch

12 miles, forest, mud, obstacles, climbing, crawling, fighting, fire, water and pure energy zapped across the course that took me 2.10 hours to complete.

The Spartan an an adrenaline fueled sport designed to take every ounce of power from your muscles. Sunday 18th was a beautiful day, perfect for the course, not cold nor wet. What lay ahead was anyone's guess, the route was not exposed to us participants.

11am we set-off, running around the BrandsHatch F1 race-course, diverted into the nearby woods and climbing through nettles, brambles, trees and bushes, climbing robe ladders, pulling ourselves up robes, lifting sandbags and crawling through water filled tunnels. The course seemed to go on forever. As we thought we were near the end, the route jutted off into a completely different direction, just for us to face more obstacles.

As we came to the end, it was up a 15ft high wall, jump down, fighting the Spartans then crawling through ice, where just above our heads the barbed wire! I was thankful to finish as my stomach craved to be filled.

In all Spartan is a good course for those looking to do something like this for the first time, however it lacks imagination in the course, and half of the equipment was broken, which was disappointing. But a good leg-up to Tough Mudder...!


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Favourite Budget Airline - goes to Russia - EasyJet

Great news for travelers, excellent service, great bargain and brilliant destinations. Another smile has been put on my face by EasyJet....

EasyJet to launch first flights to Moscow outside London

FROM: http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?c=setreg&region=2&m_id=Y!T_~An_rdm&w_id=8458&news_id=2004027

EasyJet will launch the first ever scheduled flights from Manchester to Moscow next spring, when it will also start flying to the Russian capital from London Gatwick for first time.


The airline will also launch flights from Manchester to Prague and Thessaloniki in the spring. It will base eight aircraft at the airport from March 2013 and hire about an extra 80 cabin crew, pilots and ground handling staff to support the new flights.


The four flights a week service to Moscow will go on sale in the next few weeks. The airline, which announced record profits yesterday morning, said it had been awarded the rights to fly to Domodedovo airport by the Civil Aviation Authority.


EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said: "We are pleased to announce the launch of the first ever scheduled services between Manchester and Moscow. These new services exactly fit easyJet's 'join the dots' strategy which is to add flights to destinations from multiple bases across Europe providing passengers with convenient point to point services.


"Russia has a fast growing economy and is a country rich in culture and history - so a direct link from the North of England has been long overdue. With our strong European network we look forward to connecting Moscow with other European cities.


"We are also pleased to be able to announce further expansion from Manchester with the arrival of another aircraft in March 2013. This is great news for the regional economy creating much-needed jobs in the city.


"Moscow and Prague will appeal to business and leisure travellers alike with Thessaloniki promising to be a popular choice for holidaymakers from the region. We look forward to welcoming passengers onboard our new services in spring next year."


Manchester will become the only airport in the UK outside of London offering Moscow services. The airline expects to fly over 60,000 passengers in its first year of service between Manchester and Russia.


The additional aircraft at Manchester will also enable easyJet to launch new routes to the Czech Republic capital city of Prague and Thessaloniki as well as add more frequencies to popular destinations like Paphos and Santorini.


The airline will offer three services a week to Prague on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays along with twice weekly services to the Greek city of Thessaloniki on Mondays and Fridays.

WTM 2012 – Hoteliers really ready for maturing channel management technology

While in parts WTM 2012 seemed quieter than in previous years, attendees were much more ready to develop more sophisticated revenue management strategies as their pricing structures and sales environment becomes more complex. Hoteliers are much more aware of channel management and the functionality required to optimise the performance of their sales channels.


As they look further into how to improve their RevPar through direct selling, better commissions and improved visibility they realise the importance of having the right tools to support them. Channel management is an outgoing, but if used right the cost can be covered in a matter of months, while also helping the revenue manager to yield more.

Our partners Xotels, just prior to WTM, explained the key to deciding on the right channel manager for your hotels .

Channel Management: an ongoing challenge for hotels - part 1

During the Travel Technology Presentation, The Three P’s of Hotel Sales, Best Western Belgium explained the benefits of the right data and direct access to various channels for over 55 properties.
LateRooms explained the challenges faced in the new consumer buying pattern and the points of influence in social media.

While eRevMax identified the opportunities ahead for hotels and how technology must be approached to meet these changing demands.

WTM is an opportunity for hotels to benchmark technology providers and learn about the market, even our own junior team came away inspired and enthused – learning much more about the industry than you can simply by reading articles and making phone calls.

However we have much more education to do, as we launch RTSuite 3 to start optimising and automating channel connectivity solutions for hotels to achieve more bookings at better rates! Check out our new RTSuite 3 in the video below to know more.
 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

GayTravel.com takes to the road - cruising city tocity

Gaytravel.com has taken to the road with a fully branded GT Cruiser. The gay wagon will be making journeys city to city across the USA with GAY TRAVEL splashed along the side. An exciting development for gay travel and this gay travel information website. Plus they are running a fun competition to SPOT the cruiser.

COMPETITION:

It couldn't be easier to win a great staycation for you and three guests right here in San Diego!
HOW TO ENTER:
If you see the GT Cruiser out and about in San Diego just take a quick photo with your smart phone and email it to gtcruiser@gaytravel.com to be entered to win. All entries must be received before December 10th 2012.
WHAT YOU WIN:
  • 2 Night hotel accommodations for four at the Lafayette Hotel 
  • Bar set-up in your hotel room
  • Dinner for four at IMIG'S Kitchen and Bar
  • Saturday Brunch for four at Baja Betty's
  • $100 Gift certificate for dinner at Hillcrest Brewing Company
  • Sunday brunch for four at Urban Mo's 
  • Door to door service in the GT Cruiser all weekend
WANT A HINT ON THE GT CRUISERS LOCATION?
Enter your information below and we will text you hints on the GT Cruisers location to help you in capturing your photo!

For more information on Spot the Cruiser, click here

Thursday, 8 November 2012

WTM Preview: Trade show charts the rise of the travel blogger


ARTICLE OF INTEREST
The travel industry is starting to appreciate the value of blogging, says Oliver Gradwell, founder and chief executive at Travelbloggersunite.com
For many years, few travel organisations were fully aware of the potential benefits travel bloggers can provide, and were at best, lukewarm about investing in blogger engagement.
But the last few years have seen travel bloggers experience a rise to prominence, and the change to the schedule at WTM is just one example of this shift in attitudes.
At last year’s WTM, travel bloggers found themselves at the heart of the scheduling, with networking events, seminars and tweet-ups throughout the week.
So what happened to instigate such a change? The industry was beginning to realise the power of the travel blogger to change brand perceptions, amplify campaign messages and, to all intents and purposes, become online brand ambassadors.
READ MORE

Friday, 2 November 2012

Video - launching a new product

So I finally got my first chance to properly launch a new product and take it in hand to do as much around the product on multimedia as possible - it's all about marketing. So I am excited to place this video here, the script and producing in which I was involved.


Monday, 29 October 2012

Les Memoires de Paris

Ce Weekend je suis alle a Paris, c'etait ma premiere fois depuis un an. Cette fois, je suis alle par l'Eurostar mais avant j'y etais alle en avion.

Vendredi soir, nous avons bu et donse dan le Marais. Nous avons visite le Raide Bar ou nous avos rencontre les amis de mon ami. je l'avais rencontre il y a trois ans, mais cette fois il est arrive avec son nouveau petit ami, qui habite a Lausanne en Suisse. Il travaille a l'universitie de Lausanne.

J'ai ete au Raide Bar pendant mes deriere vacances. J'aurais pense que j'aurais aime Raide Bar, mais non - il y aurait trop de monde et la musique est trop forte. Apres nous sommes alles a un autre bar poire des cocktails. J'ai bu un cocktail qui s'appelle - Expresso - les ingredients sont l'expresso, la vodka, et le whiskey. C'etait tres bon.

Pour finir nous avons danse jusqu'a 04:00hr. Nous leur avons dit bonne nuit et nous marche a l'hotel. Cela a pris seulement 15 minutes.

Le matrin suivant une alarme nous a reveille a 09:00hr. Elle sonne pendant 20 minutes avant que directeur de l'hotel a l'eteindre. Mais nous avions attendu dehors pendant 5 minutes. J'avais mal a la tete. J'avais bu trop.

On a mange le petit dejuner et on a visite Notre Dame et Le Louvre. On avait fait la queue pour l'entree pendant une heure. Pendant ce temps il a fait froid et il a plu.

Mes pieds ont ete mailles. Jai vu la Mona Lisa dans le Louvre, elle est tres petite. Nous avons marche le Louvre pendant trois heures. J'ai eu tres soif, et j'avais besoin d'eau. Si j'y allais encore, je prendrais de l'eau.

Aussi, si j'avais su que Notre Dame fermait tot, j'irais plutot.

Apres on s'est asses dans un cafe et j'ai pris une cafe et un gateau au chocolat. Sur de moment le soleil a brille.

Quand j'irai a Paris encore, je prendrais mon appereil photo. Je souhaite j'aurais pris plus de photos. Mais, j'ai fait quel ques les bons souviens de Paris.








(Excuse my French, I am learning and using my lessons to develop my writing).