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.


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

Happy Holidays


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:

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 how did I do it

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.

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.

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.

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

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: