Online Travel Content That Sells

ExpediaWhat’s the key to creating successful online travel content?

From blogs, photos and videos to competitions, surveys and social media campaigns, travel companies are very adept at creating content that brings traffic to their websites – but are surprisingly poor at converting those visitors into customers.

So what should these companies be doing differently? In my new role as Editor-in-Chief for Melt Content, I spoke to three travel experts to learn how to create great content that sells.

The interview article was written for Melt Content and published on Travolution. Read the complete article here.

Audio Guides for Cities Talking

Since May 2013, I have written a variety of audio city walking tours for Cities Talking – and my team of writers at WorldWORDS have written even more!

You can now listen to extracts from one my more recent city guides, on the Castle District in Budapest, by clicking this here link – or if you’re allergic to shortcuts you can also go looking for it in the Eastern Europe section of the Guides & Itineraries page. And if you’re considering a trip to the city, why not download the entire three-hour walking tour through the Cities Talking site?

Plus, as an extra bonus thing, I did this here interview with them. Lovely stuff.

The New London Correspondent for Forbes

At the beginning of January, I took on a brand new position as the London Correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. The role involves contributing a monthly selection of Q&As on the British capital, ranging from handy hints like best city bars to cultural insights like quirkiest local customs, as well as writing two blog posts on London-centric topics during the month. With my latest blog published today, here are the four I have completed so far.

- Feast On These Ways To Celebrate Pancake Day … (11th February)
- Taking a Fashion Tour of London … (8th February)
- The Most Promising West End Musicals of 2013 … (29th January)
- Where Are The Best Views of London? … (17th January)

I will be contributing content on London every month for the foreseeable future, so you can can keep track of all my Q&A contributions on my Forbes biography page and watch out for my twice-monthly posts on the blog homepage.

Contributing to Vertu Select

I have been contributing short articles to the luxury digital publication Vertu Select for more than a year now, but there has been such a backlog that it has taken a very long time to see any of them published – and even longer to get my mitts on the prints! But now, they have kindly supplied me with the few of my articles that have made it to public consumption. The first, published in May, starts like this:

“The 20th century was a trying period for Ukrainian art. After a promisingly avant-garde start to the 1900s, during which many popular contemporary movements like Futurism, Constructionism and Cubism swept through the streets of Kiev, everything came to a very sudden (and very prolonged) halt in 1922 with the foundation of the Soviet Union. However, since the parting of the Iron Curtain in 1991, Ukrainian art has enjoyed a stuttering resurgence – and it’s set for an enormous boost this summer with the opening of Kiev’s first ever Biennale…”

You can read the rest of ‘Kiev Arsenale 2012′ by clicking on the image to the left. Or you can read my latest one about Eastern European cruises. Here’s the intro:

“Medieval hilltop castles, high gold-domed churches and ancient Mediterranean ports… Eastern Europe has a wealth of treasures just waiting to be discovered. As there’s no finer way to acquaint yourself with a city than with a late night excursion on the water, here are five of the East’s favourite evening cruises…”

You can read the whole article by clicking this here link (it’s external, you know).

If you’ve noticed a theme emerging, it’s that I specialise in Central and European destinations for Vertu. Hopefully, the remaining dozen-or-so articles covering this area, plus the few elsewhere, will appear in my travel journalism portfolio shortly.

Heart of Seoul: Five Grand Palaces in Two Days

“It’s 10am when the drum beat starts. The heavy thud-thud-thud of anticipation. The crowd falls silent – even the breeze drops to a whisper – as the relief guards appear at the gate. Resplendent in uniforms of crimson and cornflower, holding colorful banners aloft and accompanied by a cacophony of bugles and conch shells, they slow-step in synchronicity across the palace courtyard towards the on-duty sentries.

The Changing of the Guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of Seoul’s oldest traditions. This display of military might first took place in 1469 and today guards are changed six times a day, on the hour, in a festival of color where ceremonial costumes, instruments and weapons whirl past in all directions. A rare and welcome celebration of prestigious past in a city – and country – preoccupied with the future…”

This is the introduction of my latest article for Serendib, SriLankan Airways’ inflight mag. You can read the rest here.

Jesus Original Author of ‘Take My Wife’ Joke

Following the discovery of an old scrap of papyrus that refers to Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene, experts have also revealed that it contains the first written example of the ‘Take My Wife’ punchline.

The comedy ‘bit’, in which The Saviour riffs on the subject of parking the donkey, followed by a light-hearted attempt to get shot of His prostitute spouse, is “equal parts hilarious and sacred” according to Professor Peter Lord.

“A morality tale about the treatment of mules, followed by a jibe at a disciple – this is exactly the kind of tomfoolery one expects from the self-proclaimed Son of God.”

This is the start of a new comedy news piece written for the satirical British website NewsThump (related to this little item), and you can clicky here for the whole thing.

Secret London: Attractions Hidden in Plain Sight

“London is one of the world’s most visited cities, and its shop window attractions – the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum – welcome millions of visitors each year. However, there is also another, less-seen aspect to the city, where uniquely fascinating features are concealed amid the chaos.

To offer you a fresh perspective on England’s capital, Forbes Travel Guide has chosen ten of the most interesting London attractions hidden in plain sight…”

This is the opening to an article and slideshow on London’s greatest secret sights, recently written for Forbes Travel Guide. From the World’s Smallest Police Station to the Seven Noses of Soho, click here to learn something new about an ancient city.

Writing for Lime&Tonic London

For the last month or so I’ve been writing articles for the up-and-coming London travel guide ‘Lime and Tonic’, with entries so far covering everything from the World’s Smallest Police Station to the World’s Greatest House Museum.

And there’s loads more to come. You can read all my mini-entries – past, present and future – by clicking right here.

Off Mt. Everest’s Beaten Track

I feel like throwing up. My head is spinning, my stomach churning, my joints throbbing. I suck in a lungful of icy air but there isn’t enough oxygen. Yet still I ignore that pounding thought: ‘turn back, turn back’. After two weeks of physical and mental exertion, with my final destination only an hour ahead, I know I can’t give up now. So I plant a walking pole deep into the dirt track and drag my heavy body onwards. Slowly, I begin to move my legs, bend my knees, pick up my feet, and I struggle on through the white wilderness, closer and closer to the finish line. I’m going to make it.

That’s when it all goes black. Continue reading

The Search for Ischia’s Wild Seaside Spa

A few days ago (on Saturday 4th February, to be precise) I had a brand new travel article published in the leading British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. It’s all about a rather chilly quest to find the secret seaside spring of Il Sorgeto, which is (in turn) on the Italian island of Ischia, and this is how it starts…

““Have you got the eels?” I ask, teeth chattering, as my girlfriend steps off the yacht and onto the deserted jetty. She nods. “And the mullet, too? And the calamari?” She holds the bulging bag of seafood aloft with one gloved hand, as she pulls her jacket tight with the other, and I grin a chapped-lip grin. Now all we need is a scooter rental shop. One that’s open in December…”

If you’d like to read on, you can either view the print version here or take a look at the online version instead. Enjoy!