WiFi Is Nice, But How About Some Electricity?

Wall_outletI'm on the road this week, which means blog posts are few and far between.  As I sit in the airport I appreciate the fact that wifi service is pretty reliable, but when did all the power outlets disappear?  I usually don't need to recharge while waiting for a flight but the delays have sucked my battery dry.  It's interesting how the only available plug in this particular terminal seems to be located in the one spot where you only get one bar on the wireless signal.

Btw, if you travel much and you're looking for a great wireless service, check out iPass.  I've used it in about a dozen different airports and several hotels and have never been disappointed.


Travel Guides as Online Brands

AirplaneHere's a brief story in The Wall Street Journal this week that talks about how a couple of travel guide publishers have been performing online.  The story features Wiley's very own Frommer's brand and provides some comScore traffic stats (which are noted as understated) as well as an annual advertising revenue range of $10 to $15 million for Dummies.com, CliffsNotes.com and Frommers.com combined.

Frommers.com is a great example of how a deeply entrenched print brand can indeed be extended online.  Heck, the first Frommer's travel guides came out 50 years ago, so who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?!


Greetings from Seoul, South Korea!

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Nah, I'm not really over in Seoul...but my oldest daughter is!  Despite the State Department's best efforts to delay delivery of her passport, she managed to make it to Seoul earlier this week to visit her best friend, Min.  She's only two days into the trip but all reports indicate she's having a blast.  She e-mailed a batch of pictures from their whirlwind tour of the countryside yesterday and I thought I'd share a few of them via my blog.


Local Events Maps

Local_map_2Have you ever found yourself sitting around on a Friday night or on the road for a business trip wondering what local events might be going on?  You could scan the local paper or try to Google a bit to figure it out, but why not offer a mapping service that pulls it all together?

Plug in your current address (home, hotel, whatever) and a map is displayed.  If I'm using Google Maps I can then click on the Traffic button to see the best route from point A to point B or I can click the Satellite button to get a bird's eye view.  Why not add an Events button that displays all the local movies, comedy clubs, concerts and other shows?  This map could include information on start times and even let you buy tickets from within the map interface.

This could be accomplished via a mashup of basic mapping services with a database of local events.  You could monetize it by charging for premium placement on the map and/or taking a cut of the resulting ticket sales.  Customer reviews/feedback could also be incorporated, making it an even richer service.

Does something like this already exist and I just haven't found it yet?  If so, let me know...I'd get a lot of use out of a service like this!

P.S. -- Ask has a service called "Ask City" that's close, but no cigar.  I plugged in my hometown and selected today but it showed a bunch of stuff that happened earlier in the week.  The e-commerce part of it is non-existent -- I'd like the ability to purchase within the map interface without getting redirected to another site.  They also use a multi-pane window approach, which isn't as effective as the little pop-ups Google tends to use.  Either way, it looks like a service that was half-built and then abandoned as they certainly don't have the seamless integration between the map and the events that I think could be hugely popular.  I'm surprised Google isn't all over this, especially as they try to offer more local services.


Scenes from the Road

Franco BnI was on the road in NY this week and wanted to share a couple of the more memorable sights along the way.  Btw, this is yet another benefit to being part of the Sprint Ambassador test program: I don't carry a camera with me, but I almost always have that Sprint phone in my pocket.

The picture on the left (click to enlarge) was taken at the Pittsburgh airport.  It's a mannequin reproduction of one of the most famous plays in Pittsburgh Steelers history: The Immaculate Reception.  I grew up in Pittsburgh and I remember watching that game against the Raiders, so seeing this display at the airport brought a smile to my face.

Speaking of smiles, take a look at that picture on the right (click to enlarge).  It's the computer book section at the Barnes & Noble store in New York's Union Square.  This is undoubtedly my very favorite bookstore.  It's enormous and always has everything I need.  And have you ever seen a computer book section this big anywhere else?!