Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lost Island – Google Maps PR Prank 2012 or Fly’s dung

- Would you like to join me for exploring trip to “Sandy Island”? I found this great place just off the New Caledonia coast.
- No, it isn’t!? It’s just fly’s droppings! What a shame…

You think geographers and cartographers in 21st century know everything about our globe. They can measure it with 1cm accuracy thanks to very accurate satellites and laser devices, explore it flying over things and taking aerial photos. However recently has been “discovered” Google among other providers made up some islands together with their names! You can clearly see below this is an artificial mark on the top of the satellite raster but it was given name – “Sandy Island”. According to Wikipedia its existence was questioned in 2000 (well before Google Maps existed) but it was not publicised. In 2012 it get full attention.
So, What happened?

Go to Google Maps search “Sandy Island” – unbelievable it does exist. First you would thought there should be thousands of places called “Sandy Island” and you are wrong not many of them around about 10 fairly well known. Second someone who made up this island together with its name must have a lot of fun now.

View Larger Map

Phantom Island of Coral Sea shows us clearly Internet published data can be greatly inaccurate. In some cases we perhaps put too much faith in this medium. Even “Sandy Island” existed prior to internet maps it looks like mistake was replicated in digitalised based on offline materials and taken for granted as correct in online world.
It is worth to mention here non of the existing big online map services is homogeneous. You would think so but this is not a case. In UK alone services like Google Maps or Bing Maps use at least 5 providers for satellite imagery and maps layers. After all GIS (Geographic Information Systems)  it is big complex structure and although Google and Microsoft  are some of the biggest organisations in the world they can not cope with global scale mapping on their own. With so many providers worldwide there is no wonder you will have lots of mistakes.

So how “Sandy Island” made to charts? There are few possible scenarios:
1) Raster problem – one of the satellite imagery providers for example NASA created image with couple of dead pixels this was interpreted as island when picture was processed
2) Copyright mark – a lot of cartographers make some insignificant mistake in order to recognise their work. In case map is replicated illegally this mistake is also replicated. There is only one but – this is not done on sea charts for security reasons
3) Prank – sometimes in 1990s someone decide to create island for fun – junior cartographer in some equivalent of Ordinance Survey when digitalising maps decided to create an island. If this would be the case this is the guy who has now so much fun watching all these articles.
4) Fly’s dropping – try to imagine this cartographer in late XX century produces digital vector version of the map based on satellite image. A fly flies over and… “Sandy Island” is created. Trust me however funny this sounds it is possible – I did create few maps in my life :-)

- Do not organise your holidays based only on Google Maps ;-)
- Always keep in mind internet is full of errors so do not take it for granted all data from Wikipedia is correct or this is true because you did “Google it”

Battle Of The Bloggers – How good at Travel Blogging are you?

Inspired by the travel bloggers at the WTM London at the Excel London recently, we have been paying close attention to what is happening in the travel blogging community. A few weeks ago we helped set up a competition which all budding travel bloggers can get their teeth into. The competition is run by popular 18-39 travel company – Topdeck Travel.

Topdeck Travel’s “Battle of the Bloggers” Competition gives all bloggers (whether already established or just aspiring) the opportunity to win a unique and once-in-a-lifetime prize. The winners will jet out to Topdeck’s Island Suntanner in Australia or Kiwi Encounter in New Zealand!

All you need to do to get a chance of winning your dream holiday is:

  •  Write a 500 word post on your blog decribing your favourite travel experience. (It must describe a Topdeck Travel destination).
  • Post a video entry on youtube describing the same experience, and tag it #battleofthebloggers.
  • Fill in the entry form on the Topdeck site.

In order to find out more or to enter the competition, just follow the link
The  competition is only the start of something that could become fruitful long term cooperation between young blog publishers and an established travel company.

If you have any multilingual skills or other unique to you publishing features up your sleeve, I would recommend using them!

Good Luck!

WTM London 2012 – Travel Online Technology – 5 Points to take away!

Earlier this week Travel Trade Show WTM London 2012 took place in Excel London. For 4 days people from all over the world were doing business accross all travel sectors. One of the most busy ones was Online Travel Technology sector. As one of the most non-invasive forms of wealth distribution these travel shows always attract a lot of attention and with advance online technology travel market specialists look towards Search Engines and Social Media as money saving solutions.
Question is – did you join any technology seminars this year? If you didn’t there are 5 main points which were discussed this year. You can treat this article as your guide to online travel technology and advertising 2012: WTM London 2012 Break from Technology Seminars
- Bloggers
- Search
- Video
- Mobile
And the most important one:
- how to use these techniques fully combined for your holistic marketing strategy.
I must admit this fifth point is something we’ve been waiting for over the past five years.

This is quick review of what happened during 4 days of seminars
1) Bloggers get their proper recognition this year. It was joyful to find in the seminar rooms dozens of bloggers. For the very first time I can say travel industry recognises bloggers on this same level as technology sector does.
On Tuesday in Platinum suite you could feel buzz like never before. This will only get bigger.
Take away point – find connections with travel bloggers ASAP if you do not have some already!

2) Search Marketing. No one needs to be convinced what benefit can you have from website. We had people from major players on the podium including chaps from innovative side of Search – Semantic Search. Where you can talk about artificial intelligence in search.
What you could learn here is that Google is so big regarding product span and operations that an external Search focused specialist knows more about their products than an internal representative :-) (it was fun to watch). Of course this showed how advanced online marketing techniques are these days.
Search – Yahoo!|Bing setup is still confusing regarding advertising opposite to Google where GDN and your AdWords pannel can cover all aspects of online advertising including YouTube, Gmail, Google Places and G+
You still have no straight forward approach to introduce advertising within Hotmail, MSN messenger, Yahoo publishing properties. This of course creates Bing platform less competitive especially for businesses with budgets below certain threshold. Sometimes people like Yahoo!|Bing alliance forget there are thousands of businesses which spent millions and millions of businesses which spend only thousands.
Google fully recognises this and this is the reason you can still create revenue on Google form campaign which has spend of £50pcm! Incredible but true.

Take away point two – make sure you always hire specialist from search to keep your team updated. Your team is not focused on general trends in search make sure you not running blind – talk to search engine specialist ASAP

360 picture of Europe stands on WTM London in Excel in 2012

3) Video – bigger then ever before YouTube annotations as way forward for linking videos made their stage this year. Good for annotations but what about content productions. There were some interesting results there too.

Take away 3 – Get your videos linked together  and do not spend money on video production. Ask your customers to do it – give them a bit of claim to fame.
4) Mobile – If you do not do it this year apparently you will be dead by the end of 2013. This was main message from specialists in this and other online marketing areas. Apart from couple of funny figures mainly “guesstimated” you could found out from speakers we have 4 billion internet enabled mobile devices in operation in the world and 5.9bn mobile phones altogether. All predictions for 2013 say this number will be higher then number of people in the world as soon as end of Q1.

Take away – four – make sure you have your mobile presence sorted – hot stuff is coming mostly from Android market and make sure you’re making a division between phone screen and tablet screen
5) Holistic marketing. When you decide to go ahead with promotion just make sure you talk this same language offline and online have decent approach to print as this will still run but needs online connections like QR codes and short URLs for each offer. Make sure when you do something you do this across the whole web. And perhaps the most important. Try to avoid country specific offers. This are old days tools now there is no borders. Your country local campaign will make it to social media in minutes and trust me you do not want to upset your followers from different countries and tell them they have to wait for this same offer another 2 months.

Take away number five – give it a go – all at once, use this same language, make easier  to customer to  switch marketing channels and make sure 4G is still ages away so create solutions which take advantage of downloadable material in case customer has no access to connection.

Now is all up to you – Go get your business in 21st century style cheap and effective.