Tips for Travel Blogging.

Tips for Travel Blogging.

img_4472Ahhh September, the start of my favorite course, “Niche Tourism and Travel.”  In this course we develop Travel Blogs, build Twitter feeds and Create Facebook Pages. Students usually look at me with bewilderment when we start, so in keeping with past advice, I offer you the following tips on how to start.
1) Make sure you set up your “About” Page. By setting up your About Page your readers can connect with you and see what they have in common with you. No one wants to take Travel advice from a nameless, faceless person. On the flip side, know who you are writing FOR. If you Niche is adventure travel, use language that adventures understand. Most importantly understand the passion and commitment that your readers may have about your topic and aim to connect with this.

2) Keep your articles short, but not too short! Around 250 – 350 words, it makes it nice and easy to read.Ubizane South Africa

3) Add awesome visuals, if you need some, make some or ask your friends or family for pictures from travels they have been on to use in your blog. You can even use vintage pictures of travels with your family, here is one of me at the Ubizane Game Reserve in South Africa in 1983. Oh! Add links out like I just did with Ubizane, it gives the reader a deeper experience.

4) Tell a story, each blog post should engage the reader with content that is interesting and engaging. Content is what will keep your readers coming back to visit.

5) Tag and Categorise your post. This will make it easier for people to find and navigate your Blog.

6) Just get started already! Even if your story needs work, practice makes progress. Your Travel writing will improve with each Blog you post and remember, once you put it out into the world, you have enriched a community of Travellers who likely care about the same issues as you. Be Brave! Be Bold, Tell your stories and see what happens!

7) Ask your readers to like you, it is easy on WordPress. Add a widget that allows users to “Follow blog by email.” Having a call to action is always a great way to connect with your readers. This way they will get a notification each time you post a blog.  Check out mine on the top right of this page and hey…. follow me. (please)

Happy Blogging, we are all part of the community, no judgment, go for it!

Snowshoeing in Haliburton and tips to the Graduating Class of 2015

Snowshoeing in Haliburton and tips to the Graduating Class of 2015

A little birdy recently told me that people wanted me to blog more. “I can’t cope”, I moaned, “I am teaching awesome classes, raising a beautiful family, trying to stay warm and studying an MBA! How can I blog?” He told me it could be worse.089

All week I have thought about that. It could be worse. Oh Man, yes it could.

096I had a pretty good weekend, I travelled to Haliburton Ontario, went hiking, tried Snowshoeing for the first time, ate some great food and enjoyed myself. But, after the two days of fun, it was time to pay the piper. I needed to catch up on my missed studying hours. Because my friends, if you play, you have to pay.

Actually being a student again has really shown me what it is like to be a student in the modern world. It is a juggling act, a fine balance between the many callings of life. Sometimes when I walk into the classroom, I notice the students faces are weary. Ready to learn, happy to be at the school but weary . I think this is because in 2015 we are all the Kings and Queens of multitasking. I get it guys! I to am a little weary right now, but education does open so many doors! It is important, so how do we get through the next few weeks of mid terms, assignments and activities? Here is what I am going to do…perhaps you want to join me?

1) Plan your study hours. Look at your schedule over the next three weeks and set aside times for study. Just like you would with your shifts at work. Make it a firm schedule and stick to it. Despite working full-time I am committed to studying 25 hours a week for the next three weeks.

2) Take care of your health. Make sure you exercise every day. Walking counts as exercise. If I give you a break in class, use that time to walk around the halls. I get to a Yoga class three times a week I find this really helps with my focus.

3) When you study, study smart. Practice writing the test. Don’t just sit with a text-book and read for hours, you will retain little. Rather sit with paper and pen and practice writing what you know. I found that I had forgotten how to hold a pen and write for long periods of time 🙂 I now practice writing for three hours blocks, once a week.

4) Eat well. Everyday make sure you have two pieces of fruit and two servings of vegi’s. If you are not make sure you are taking a multi vitamin. Give your brain and body the nutrients it needs.

5) Take time for your loved ones. Call your parents, tell them how you are doing, connect with your friends, connect with people. You will feel so much better knowing you are connected and loved, it is a basic human need.

6) Cut back your hours at work if you are feeling overwhelmed. I have a student in one class that has 9 hours of class in one day. This student can barely focus during the class. The student planned the class timetable around work shifts.  The problem with this strategy is that if you are not able to focus in class so that you can work, you are really defeating the purpose of going to school. You need to work, I get it, but if working prevents you from being successful at school, you are getting nowhere.

7) Sit in a sunny window. If we get a sunny day like today (okay it is minus 23 degrees in Ontario today but wow it is sunny! lol) sit by the window and let the sun warm you. Why, because it makes you feel good! That is Victoria science 101.

So, if you are feeling weary, remember, it could be worse. We are almost though the winter, spring is coming, the end of the semester is in sight. Just breathe, follow my tips and remember, there is always Coffee, lots of Coffee.

 

Walt Disney World 2014

mouse earsHi Everyone, I have been travelling like crazy this month and have finally recovered from my most recent trip to Orlando and am ready to Blog! I will be reviewing; Two Walt Disney World Theme Parks, The Walt Disney World Swan Resort,  Southwest Airlines and Transportation in Orlando I should have all the reviews posted by the end of the week.  But lets start with my thoughts on getting around Orlando.

Transportation in Orlando

On arrival at MCO, Orlando’s airport, it is super easy to find transport to your hotel. Many people have asked me if its better to rent a car, take a taxi, or book a shuttle to get from the airport.  I took a taxi. It makes no sense financially for a family to take a shuttle.  It is $36.00 round trip per adult for a shuttle with Mears Transportation. A one way taxi fare is $67.00.  We have rented cars on previous trips but found it was more of a hassle than just taking taxis for the odd times you need to go off property. If you are staying on the Walt Disney World Resort Property, everything is connected by a complementary network of buses, water taxis, trams etc. It is efficient, easy to use and very relaxing. The Swan Resort charges $16.00 plus tax per day to park, this adds up quickly. During our week we left the Disney Property twice. Each time using a taxi. A trip to Wal-Mart for supplies, cost $18 each way. A trip to the Outlet mall for fabulous shopping was $20 each way. The rest of the time we used the complementary  transportation to get to all the Disney attractions.

If your accommodation in Orlando is not on Disney property or you would like to visit Universal Studios and do a lot of shopping a car rental makes more sense. Remember however,  you will have to pay $17.00 per day to park you car at the Disney Parks. But, if you are going primarily to be at Disney, (like we were!) I would suggest staying at a hotel on the Disney Property. It makes everything so much more convenient, to give you an example, we spent one day at Disney’s Hollywood studios, took the quick 8 minute water taxi back to our hotel, had a shower and dinner and then returned for the evening fireworks, simple, fast and easy to do. Here is a picture of us returning to our resort on the water taxi.water taxi

 

Next Post….Review of The Walt Disney World Swan

Past Grads, Jack Johnson and Commitment

In the past two weeks I have heard from some of my Grads, whose success stories have put wind in my sails.  I had the privilege of hearing Malcolm Gladwell speak at the “Art of Marketing” conference in Toronto,  and finally got to see Jack Johnson, play some of my favorite music at his concert in YTO.  I am feeling pretty upbeat about life and the future in general.

The Tourism industry also  seems pretty up beat, Air Canada Rouge has just announced non stop service from YYZ-HNL which is thrilling to those of us in Toronto that are in love with Hawaii…IMG_2206

 

What do I take away from Gladwell, Johnson and my always inspiring Grads? Be creative, be passionate and be committed, because when you commit, your dreams come true.  Gladwell, so eloquently reminded us at the Marketing conference, that creativity is easily found,  it is the courage to commit, to dig deep and be conscientious about meeting your goals that will lead you there. Are you conscientiously committed? If so, you are almost there, just keep going.

 

A note to my Grads….

A note to my Grads….

It has been a long two years for my 2014 Grads and we are now in our final week of classes. Many students have great jobs lined up to jump into in the next few weeks and others plan on travelling and exploring the world this summer prior to getting their first job in the travel industry. As I prepare my class this week, I can’t help but reflect on my first jobs in the industry and how they shaped the way I view the world today.

Today we are so connected that we are disconnected with reality. The summer that I was 19 years old,  I backpacked through Europe on my own, with no cell phone, no internet, and no social media and yet, I felt connected to the world, I missed my family and friends deeply all while being confident that they loved me and missed me too.  I  did not feel like I was missing things at home and I was experiencing real connections every day while I traveled. Today, I think with Blogs and Twitter, we get all sorts of little snapshots about peoples lives that can make us feel like we are missing out, this holds us back, weighs us down. I want to encourage my Grads to not let social media make you feel that your life is not as exciting as others. Live your life for you, not to post on Facebook.

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This is the time for you to explore who you are and try lots of jobs, roles, activities and take some risks with what you want to do. Trust me on this, your twenties is the time for risk taking. I have no regrets in my life, but I do wish I had taken more risks when I was your age. This pictures is of me in 1991 standing at the “Beach Bar Paros” on the island of Paros in Greece. I worked here to fund my travels (I am the blond one in the black and pink tank top, second from the right, the others are the family that I worked for) It is memories of my risks and travels that help me when I have to be an responsible adult today. It is my travel memories that keep me going when I am marking papers late into the night. Life is not always easy, you too will need your memories and experiences to help you when things get difficult. Looking back helps you move forward and now is your chance to create those memories, take some risks, make it happen.

I am not going to write some corny list about what you need to do but I am going to say this. Now is your moment, your chance to soar, your opportunity to do great things. Do not let your exhaustion from exams and classes lull you into a slumber where your summer slowly slips away. Get a job, buy a plane ticket, do something, and please stay in touch. It has been a great privilege knowing you all. Now back to planning your last class, Selling New Zealand.

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Pictures of me on the beach in Santorini  and arriving in Ios 1991

What makes a great travel blog?

As I sat down in front of my computer to start marking student’s travel blogs, I had a stack of Rubrics sitting next to me. There were certain things that students had to do to achieve marks. They needed tags, categories and three well written Blog articles that were approximately 250 words long.  What I didn’t ask for is PASSION.

Its hard to quantify passion. When you read a blog you can tell, “Ya, this kid has passion. its great to see what they are doing with their Travel niche,” or “Man, this guy is just putting in the required effort to pass this course.”

Which one are you?  I for one, am all about passion. Too bad there isn’t a rubric for that.   Here is a picture of me, at the top of the hill in Vezenobres, France 2010, thinking, passionately, that when I finish this run, I need a glass of wine. Live with passion, it just reads better.

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River Rafting, Eco Tourism, Niche Tourism and Marketing

River Rafting, Eco Tourism, Niche Tourism and Marketing

Today was a good day. I drank water out of a stream, paddled down a river, acted out a Native American legend and got to watch my students learn about Niche Tourism. There is no doubt that learning by doing is the best way to learn. I watched my students see the importance of Tourism on local populations first hand as well as truly appreciate the importance of Marketing.  We spent the day participating in several forms of Niche Tourism. Many of us not even aware that this experience could be found in our backyard.

As students of Tourism and Travel and Marketers we have to ask why are we not aware that experiences like this exist so close to home? As Tourism professionals it is important to provide tourism products that are easily accessible to the public…If you build it, they will come may be a nice mantra, but the reality is that if the public is unaware of a product they will not come. It is our jobs as Marketers to make the public aware of our product. Today is a case in point. How is it possible that I have lived 45 minutes away from the Grand River for almost twenty years, but have never been until now? The essence of Marketing is about meeting clients wants and needs. I have wanted this type of Tourism Product, Tourism Providers have developed the programs to meet my needs….but with out knowing it existed my Tourism dollars have gone elsewhere.

I have wanted to find a place like Paris for years. It offers a great product in the natural beauty of the Grand River, home to  Bald eagles, Deer, Otters, Beavers and more. It offers great providers of Niche Tourism in The Grand River Rafting Company as well as Tribal Vision Dance. So how do we Market this destination for Tourism?  How does a small town, with limited tourism dollars, spread the word about their amazing products?  I would start with Social media. With a limited budget and a few give aways, you could spread the word in a very efficient way.

The challenge I put out to you students, is how do Niche Tourism Providers, share their great products with the world? What would have worked to get you to Paris today, if I had not arranged this field trip? Lets talk about it in class next week.

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