A little update from Steve

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Well it has been a busy time for us at umi. Whether it has been getting our clients live with umi Marketing or helping our new clients using Bookitwith it has been an non-stop few weeks.

There has been some positive new from umi Hotel as well with the www.umihotellondon.co.uk site winning a Travel Mole Best Hotel website awards which was a great achievement. We have also some exciting possibilities for some new umi’s which of course we will let you know as soon as we can.

I have had a busy few weeks travelling too, with a trip to Venice for the day amongst other trips. Going up to the University of Salford tomorrow (that is where I went to University!) to attend an event in Media City. Really excited to see the transformation up there and will also get some nostalgic memories of my graduation day (which took place at the Lowry centre… that’s LowRy not Lowy!) . I also will be heading down to umi Brighton on Thursday afternoon to attend a little Summer get together that they are putting together in aid of some charities in the UK and Cambodia. Then off to Buckingham Palace to look around the state rooms on Friday afternoon…. ooooo la di da.

That is enough from me but will update you with some photos and other information.

Great sporting experiences in July in London

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The sun shines bright and the nature is alive in July, so it is the right time to do outdoor sports. In the following you find suggestions for everyone, for cyclists, water-sport lovers and the ones who want to find their balance.
It does not matter if you are a beginner or a pro.

Did you ever have the wish to feel like a participant in the Olympic Games?
Now you can test your fitness on the Olympic road-race route for 2012 from London to Dorking.
The course leads you through the beautiful countryside from the Mall over Richmond Park to Weybridge and then down to the Wey Valleys until Surry Hills.
The whole course takes 43 miles, but beginners can use the train and cycle only along the part of the route they like to.
The area is, with its riversides and flat valleys, very lovely and photogenic. Therefore you can easily spend two days on the course and rest at The Talbot in Ripley or pop in the pub Seven Stairs for a short stay.
If you have achieved your goal and you are in Dorking, cycle upon Box Hill and enjoy the beautiful view and the feeling that you made it.

For all water lovers and the ones who like cool things – try kitesurfing near Brighton.
The team of Kitesurfkings in Shoreham near Brighton can teach how to handle your board and chute for a safe ride over the sea with adrenaline rush . The three-day-course for beginners takes place on Shoreham Beach in West Sussex, a few miles from Brighton. It is perfect not only for teenagers, but also people up to their 60s can enjoy the sport.
For lunch or a break after your sporting activity Due South in Brighton is the right place to eat a pan-fried sea bass. The ones favouring sweets will fell in love with the chocolate desserts. When you prefer the healthy lifestyle, V Bites a vegan cafe is to be recommended.
Going to Shoreham takes you only about an hour by train from Victoria Central Station, so nothing stands in the way for a few active days by the sea.

Bournemouth is another beautiful place by the sea with its beach, pier, gardens, surfers and sea kayaking. There you can find your own balance during a yoga session on the beach.
Frank Markham, a qualified teacher can show you some moves in self-defence and martial arts. The yoga lessons are held on a silent and remote part of the beach from May until September come rain or shine. The equipment is given, but the yoga course should be prebooked.
During your stay in Bournemouth enjoy lunch or dinner at the Bistro on the Beach or the Goat and Tricycle, an old Victorian pub. Find accommodation at the Urban Beach and enjoy yourself at the hotels’ own sauna, gym and off-site pool.

Enjoy July with all its sporting activities!

By Marina

Google Panda and the Travel Industry … My thoughts

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Well Hello there.
I am not one to be controversial but I thought I would let you know my thought on some things that have been happening with good old Google recently.


There have been some major changes recently in the way Google ranks websites within its index and its fair to say there has been a definite loss of confidence in the travel market due to these changes, a sector which Google has made some inroads in recent years, indicating the travel market as being a key vertical for their sector.


Many people in the industry have been arguing recently that the new search system is inaccurate and unpredictable.
It’s not just the travel sector either; many in the search marketing community have been up in arms about the changes.


The Panda Update as it is known was designed to reduce the amount of spam and content built purely for the benefits of the search engines. The aim is to reward the highest quality websites and marking down those sites that are considered to be content farms.


When Google first launched the Panda update it completely wiped out about 12% of the rankings – which is massive and considering the interconnectedness of websites out there had a really big impact. Google then spent a month or so improving the Panda update, but it’s still not quite right.


What’s worse Google has also said that the Panda update isn’t like other parts of their algorithm in that it’s a separate entity that’s designed to tidy up the rankings and it’s run on an “every now and then basis” whereas it’s other algorithm factors run at the same time. If Google run the factors every month then you can safely assume that it could be weeks before you know the impact of some of the SEO work you’ve been doing. This approach just isn’t cutting edge enough – when the rest of the world is going real-time Google are taking a backward step!


The biggest problem is the effects of this update are unpredictable (because they happen on an adhoc basis) and they aren’t massively accurate. We have been publishing content on our sites for years – this is news and events from around the area, it’s there to provide more information for our customers, not to rank on the search engines. In our line of business it’s essential that you give visitors a good idea of what’s happening around the area.


I’ve been at quite a few travel events since the update and as soon as I start talking about Google this update comes up over and over again. People in the travel industry just aren’t happy about it – as much as anything they seem to feel targeted by Google, which is especially sad as Google has suggested this is one of their key markets for future development.


There has been a move towards social media since its inception around 6 / 7 years ago and this is something we’re likely to see more of in the coming weeks.


Experian’s Internet Research Division Hitwise recently estimated that around 10% of all internet visitors are arriving at websites from Facebook, roughly 14% of all traffic received from websites is from a social media site – and that’s an increasing trend and something that we in the travel industry ignore at our peril.


The way we consume media on the world wide web is changing and Google is starting to look antiquated both in terms of the mode of our consumption but also in the way it moves it model further from its founding values to greater commercialism.


As more and more people use social media channels it become more important, that’s never been more apparent in the area of travel and especially youth travel where individuals often use social media sites to plan their travels in conjunction with their contacts.


Google needs to be very careful about making these kinds of changes and alienating a significant chunk of the market, especially one that targets the audience of its biggest rival.


I hope this doesn’t come across as waffle but the whole team who work on web and SEO at umi Hotels have been scratching our heads in regards what was going on, and thought we would share our thoughts. If you have any ideas please let me know as the more we work together in the industry, the more we will be able to understand it all.


Hello from Bangalore

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Hey guys. A quick hello from Bangalore India , where I attending the a travel show. Has all been a bit of a whirlwind few days where I have been to the IPL cricket, then a few bars and today spent the morning and early afternoon with some lovely people sightseeing followed by a chill by the pool in 35c heat. Had a snack in the bar and watched Liverpool which was rather disappointing.
So India / Bangalore is a wonderful place. Although there is poverty there is a buzz and optimism to the City. There is a hustle and bustle and have thoroughly enjoyed both the culture and the food (you know how important the food is)! I hope to keep you posted with some more exciting things over the next few day. Take care and as some people know me as. Stevie bhai!

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