Cities in Colorado and the state of North Carolina are trying to go after VRBOs to get tax revenue. HomeAway is fighting back to protect its VRBOs from paying fines, back-taxes ... and probably even stay open as a VRBO. I bet more states and towns will get involved Read On:
Next will be AirBnB with all of its unauthorized Mom & Pops renting their sofa's and spare rooms. The big guys of course support this... if you are a hotel or a vacation rental manager paying your taxes and abiding by local and state regulations, why wouldn't you want the small guys to abide by the same rules??
An interesting article at Travolution suggested the travel industry losing 2B a year in poor site design... wouldn't it be more accurate to see the "loss" as business shifting to a BETTER travel website or moving to the phone instead of an online booking?
I wish I could prove how much business the vacation rental and hotel industry loses due to design and usability issues... Blizzard just completed an A/B test on a quick search widget (top right of homepage vs lower on homepage) and a visitor was 11.4% more likely to search inventory when the quick search was at top. Hopefully that is 11.4% more customers who don't leak out to a competitor's website!
We used Google Website Optimizer to do the testing which achieved a certaintly level of 99.2% over about 30 days of testing.
The early iterations of Google Plus are interesting to watch, but Google Plus is still only a curiosity from a business standpoint. Not only is there not a business offering, Google has warned businesses not to setup a Google+ account for your business.
Officially, Blizzard recommends you wait a bit longer on Google+… but read on for more specific instructions.
That said, it is easy to imagine how a business could use the existing functionality to build a business page and create a circle of “friends” and clients to communicate with. Right off the bat the Hangouts feature is a promising business tool. Blizzard tested Hangouts this morning with a video conference call and it worked great. It was an easy tool for a bunch of Blizzard employees and clients to get together at an appointed time and have a discussion. Hangouts allowed just audio or audio + video. Additionally, any user can share their screen. Hangouts is limited to 10 people AND the organizer of the conference can’t control it. In this sense, GoToMeeting is a much better option for a more push-type presentation. Here is a short video from Google:
We recommend that you:
Get a GooglePlus (or Google+ if you prefer, I use them interchangeably) account for your personal business just to acquaint yourself with how it works. Read Google + for Newbies if you want some great tips.
Try the “Hangout” feature to see if you like it for business meetings with remote colleagues.
Add the +1 button to your website, parallel to the “LIKE” button so early +1 users can start using it. Click here for directions on adding the +1 button to your website.
The “new” version of Google Analytics has several new reports that are worth studying. One report I like is the “site speed” report which is newly available in Google Analytics… it simply tells you how fast your website loads on average and also breaks down specific pages for analysis.
News: Übersuggest provides a useful service by collecting the auto-suggested search words provided by Google News as you type.
Video:YouTube Promoted Video Keyword Research Tool provides insights into what users are searching for on YouTube with options to source your suggestions from keywords, another YouTube video or a diverse array of demographic information.
Social Media: socialmention is a general social media search engine that provides a downloadable list of keywords that most often occur in conjunction with whatever it is that you search on.