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.

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.


A Yankees guide to good old London town

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London: A big city with a small town feel

I feel quite lucky to say that I have been living in London for three months now and I couldn’t be more pleased to have had this opportunity in such a beautiful city. After getting over the brutal truth that I nearly threw half of my savings account away after the conversion to GBP, I was able to fully enjoy this city and all that it has to offer. Although I have been here for three months, and have only a few weeks remaining, I can say with certainty that there are areas of the city that I won’t have the opportunity to see at all, for there are just too many bloody things to see and do! As author Samuel Johnson’s sums up perfectly, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life itself.” However, I have taken advantage of the many sites and bites that can be found in London and here I share with you my thoughts of this city.

From the double-decker buses, to the iconic red photo booths, there was no mistaking that I was in London when I stepped off the plane. At first, seeing cars drive on the wrong side of the road was nauseating, but after narrowly escaping death while crossing the street for the first time, I quickly realized the importance of paying attention to those conspicuous “Look Right à” signs painted at nearly every crosswalk (thanks for looking out for us London!). I love how walkable this city is, and the pieces of history that are scattered along every street keep me interested and continuously exploring. The streets are not overwhelming and the buildings do not loom high over your head, as they do in the new cities of America. Rather, the city feels manageable and inviting.

Let’s talk lingo. Behind that infamous accent, which still makes me feel like I am on set of a Harry Potter movie, lies some of the most interesting words in the (British) English language. I have found that it is impossible to pass a day without hearing “Cheers,” and “Mate.” I am fairly confident that Londoners are capable of using these two words in any situation, from toasting in the pub to saying “thank you.” Confusion abounded when I hear the word “quid” for the first time. Excuse me, was that “squid” or “quid”? (A quick Google search provided that answer for me). One of the most important lessons I had to learn was that “chips” mean French fries, and “crisps” mean chips. It’s all quite confusing.

It seems that all cities are bursting at the seams with tourist traps, and London is no exception. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I spent my first weeks here touring the famous sites in the city, took my Facebook picture (even got a few nice profile pictures out of the deal), realized the dodgy scene that is Leicester Square on a Saturday night, and learned the hard way that the Tube closes at midnight (this aspect I will never understand). However, it’s safe to say that my time after these initial explorations was much more memorable. I embraced pub culture, and have taken quite a liking to hard apple cider (I’m still wondering if this can be considered one of my five daily servings of fruit). London’s food markets are fantastic on the weekends, as are the vast parks and lawns. Some of my favorite memories from my time here were from my random adventures wandering the city and popping into various cafés, shops, and museums.

London seems to me like a giant neighborhood, where I have come to know the people in the stores and cafés I frequent weekly. There is a laidback atmosphere that blankets the city (as well as a shield of grey clouds most of the time) and I have come to appreciate the Londoners’ sense of humor and way of life. I am envious that so many of you call this place home, but I know that I will be back later in my life to see this constantly evolving city. Cheers!

This has been written by Lucas Piazza , one of the marketing interns at umi Marketing . I think he has a great job and hope you enjoy his guest post!

Londres, un sueño hecho realidad

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Our new intern at umi Marketing give you a Spaniards Guide to London… In Spanish! Enjoy!

El 5 de abril cumplí uno de mis sueños que era el de poder hacer las prácticas en Londres y si tengo la oportunidad me quedaré a trabajar.

La atracción que tengo por esta ciudad me viene desde el verano del 2005 cuando estuve un mes en Eastbourne estudiando inglés, a partir de ahí siempre dije que mi sueño era el de vivir en Londres y por ahora ese sueño se está haciendo realidad. Los que me conocéis sabéis que aquí soy feliz y  aunque esté lejos siempre estaréis muy cerca. Os agradezco vuestro apoyo que es fundamental.

Llevo 15 días en esta magnífica ciudad y, aparte de seguir con mi racha ya que siempre que estoy en Londres no llueve, estoy encantado de estar aquí tanto por la ciudad como en el trabajo y con mis compañeros de piso, pero de lo que voy a hablar es de Londres.

Desde el 2005 ha cambiado mucho como es normal en una ciudad tan grande como esta, pero desde que estoy aquí la noto muy alegre, no sé si será por la boda del Príncipe Williams y Kate Middleton o si es por  la proximidad de la Semana Santa o por los Juegos Olímpicos pero lo que sé es que la noto diferente.

Hay un dicho que dice “Si estás aburrido de Londres, estás aburrido de la vida” y es verdad porque aquí puedes hacer muchas cosas de lo más diverso, por ejemplo desde ir a ver un musical hasta ir a un museo, o desde  ir de compras a estar en un oasis natural en medio de la ciudad como es Hyde Park; en definitiva que es imposible aburrirse.

Si me dan a elegir mi lugar favorito de Londres te diría que es todo Londres porque no sabría decirte un sitio en concreto porque depende del momento y de la situación te diría un sitio u otro.

Dicen que uno se siente londinense una vez vive aquí da igual el tiempo que esté, yo me siento un londinense más y eso que llevo 15 días nada más, eso es por la manera que ves la ciudad, ya que la ves como si estuvieras mil veces en Piccadilly Circus o si pasearas por el mercado de Portobello Road todos los sábados,… no la miras como un turista que va despacio paseado por la ciudad más bien todo lo contrario, vas a mil por hora para no llegar tarde a trabajar y para llegar pronto a casa a descansar.

Lo único que no me gusta y es porque están en reformas para las Olimpiadas de año que viene, es que los fines de semana cierran algunas estaciones y líneas de metro pero si se quiere mejorar hay que sufrir con los cortes y los retrasos que eso acarrea.

Para acabar, quería deciros que si tenéis la oportunidad de estar unos días en Londres no dudéis en visitar esta magnífica ciudad porque vale la pena ya lo veréis.


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