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Spring Cleaning with Google+

Google+ Profile Image

The Early Days of Google+

In light of Google+’s well received arrival on the social networking scene, I am not about to jump on the ‘Facebook bashing’ bandwagon, but I have to admit that Google+ has kickstarted my waining interest in Social Networking again.

This dampening in my enthusiasm might have been down in part to the feeling that my social network of choice ‘Facebook’ was turning into an untended, overgrown, weed-ridden garden with far too many random and less than blossoming connections choking my News Stream. Indeed, I seemed to be spending an unacceptable amount of time Killing weeds from my news stream in the vague hope that they wouldn’t reappear.

To be fair to Facebook, they did put in some landscaping features to help maintain this ever increasing tangled mess of connections, but the news stream ‘filters’ and counter intuitive ‘ friend list’ functionality meant that I had little or no interest in spring cleaning my account and only had a vague notion of what content I was planting in which flower bed of connections.

Then Google throws it’s hat into the social networking ring (or circle) and  in a fanfare of tantalising ‘invite only’ Google+ accounts it seems like someone has finally taken the initiative and developed a means of sharing & receiving content within designated circles of connections. Early indications are that it will empower users to take control and cultivate their social networking gardens watching them  grow again in a more landscaped and orderly fashion.

Google+ has raised the bar in social networking and it is exciting times for us, the end user, as we wait to see how Facebook and others hit back.

Will you be using Google+ to Spring Clean your Social Networks or taking a different approach?

Roger Gibson
Marketing & Communications Manager
Thavorn Hotels & Resorts (THR) Phuket, Thailand
Roger Gibson

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Top 10 Tips for a New Life in Phuket

This is something I did back in January 2010, so if you are thinking of doing the same, here are some Tips based on my experiences.

1. Get your Travelling out the way first

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

because once you find a job in Phuket, you will be working your ass off. If you go the TEFL route you still have to work hard, but at least you get time off for travel during school holidays. For a job in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry expect to be working a minimum 5-6 days a week.

We come to these exotic parts of the world, to experience new cultures and wonderous things

Tah Prom Temple Ruins, Siem Reap

Tah Prom Temple Ruins, Siem Reap

and of course to hang out in some cool places.

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

but it is best to do this before you knuckle down in a job, so you are not thinking 6 months down the line, I wish I had more time to visit these places. (Of course you will still be thinking this, we all do, but at least some experience of travelling will soften the blow).

2. Establish a base and a plan to find a job.

Once you arrive in Phuket it’s time to get a semi-business head on. I decided to stay at a guest house in Karon Beach, which actually turned out to be a little bit like this

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

Chilling out in Koh Phangnan, Thailand

but for the most part I behaved and stuck to my plan, which was to hit all the 4-5 star resorts along the coastline and to hand out my Resume and Covering Letter. I chose Karon Beach, as it was pretty central to where I wanted to be looking for work with Patong, Kamala, Surin beaches to the north , to the south, Kata, Kata Noi, Nai Harn, Panwa and also Phuket Town to the east.

I didn’t want to land in party central Patong Beach and begin my job search from there as that would have lead to distraction.

3. Avoid distractions.

Because there are plenty here in Phuket.

distraction

It doesn’t project the right image if you turn up to a 5 star resort with your CV, bloodshot eyes, reeking of Sangsom and Red Bull buckets and with an entourage of pretty girls from the night before. That’s not to say you cannot enjoy the lively nightlife in Phuket, but maybe just on the weekends hey. Treat your Job Search like a Working Week.

4. Get a monthly Rental on a Motorbike or Car.

You will need your own transport when looking for a job in Phuket and this is by far the cheapest and easiest option of getting between the different beach resorts. Plus it looks better when you turn up for interviews. I figured I could walk from resort to resort along Karon Beach

Job Hunting in Karon Beach

Job Hunting in Karon Beach

but again, it is not a good look turning up to meet with the General Manager, dripping with sweat and sun stroke. Although, you will probably be offered a refreshing drink and a cold towel, it is unlikely you will be offered the job.

No, I'm fine - please take a look at my CV

No, I'm fine - please take a look at my CV

5. Local Thai Mobile Sim Card

This is essential, so get yourself one from the nearest 7 11 store when you arrive. Add your new number to your CV and your Covering Letter and try not to lose your mobile on a booze fuelled night on Soi Bangla. If a resort is interested in employing you they will need to be able to get hold of you, and it looks more professional to have a Thai mobile number and shows perspective employers that you are here to stay and mean business.

6. Resumes, Covering Letters and Recent Passport Photos

You will need a lot of copies of your CV and Covering Letter to hand out at the resorts, so the cheapest way to do this is print out a copy of each at an internet cafe and then go to a print shop and photocopy as many as you think you’ll need for 2 THB per copy. I also scanned a recent passport photo and duplicated it about 50 times onto an A4 sheet using Photoshop. I then printed this out at a Kodak shop and again it saved me alot of money rather than getting passport photos done at a shop each time I needed them.

7. Prepare a Job Search Spreadsheet

It helps to have a plan and keep organised when looking for a job in Phuket. I created a spreadsheet of all the resorts I wanted to visit including location, contact details etc. I then planned on which day I would visit each location i.e. Kata and Karon one day, Surin and Kamala the next. I printed this out and then updated the spreadsheet with Names, Numbers and notes about each place I visited, so I could keep track of the places I had been and also any new leads I generated.

8. Check the online job market first

Before you go out cold calling with your CV it is worth seeing which of the resorts on your spreadsheet are actually recruiting. You can then make adjustments to your CV to transform you into the ideal candidate and also write and print off a Letter of Application for that specific job vacancy.

9. Cold Calling works

Having said that, cold calling is an affective way for finding a job in Phuket (it worked for me) and most hotels and resorts are happy to keep your details on file if they haven’t any current vacancies, which could lead to opportunities further down the line. Always dress like you’re attending a Job Interview when you visit a resort i.e. no shorts and flipflops. Smart shirt, shoes and smart trousers/jeans should do it. Try and speak to the General Manager or Human Resources Manager as leaving your CV at the Front Desk is unlikely to achieve anything. If a manager is not available, then find out when they will be and go back at a later date. Update your spreadsheet straight after every visit so it’s fresh in your mind, keep business cards, make notes, remember names, follow up on tips or recommendations.

10. Networking

Phuket has a large Ex-pat community, so it is worth frequenting the usual haunts, such as Irish Bars, Sports Bars etc to see what opportunities are about. Remember, everyone’s personal circumstances are different and some people can afford to sit in a bar all day and night. Not You! If you are serious about finding a job in Phuket, remember to treat this as a Networking exercise and be careful of the pitfalls associated with Tip No 3.

distraction

While the quality of life out here in Phuket is fantastic, don’t be under the impression it will be constant girls, partying, hamoks and palm trees. Unless your lucky 😉 My experience is you will work as hard as you have ever done anywhere else, but when your work is done for the day, you can enjoy your new life in Phuket and all the benefits that living on a tropical paradise island brings.

The good life in Phuket

The good life in Phuket

On a side note, I am currently looking for talented native speakers of English to come and join our Social Media Team. If you are interested in starting a new life in Phuket, you can contact me via Facebook or Twitter, see below

Cheers

Roger

Top 10 Tips for finding your dream holiday in Phuket: Tip#3

Now you are well on your way to finding your dream holiday in Phuket. Your first port of call was Tripadvisor where you created a shortlist of potential locations and resorts. You then visited the leading Hotel Booking Sites to hone down your search further in terms of budget and to establish a base price for the hotels on your shortlist. Now it’s time to connect and engage with your shortlisted resorts on a social level.

Tip #3: Connect with your dream resort on Facebook.

Some people haven’t yet bought into the idea of Facebook, but believe me it is so much more than reconnecting with distant school friends. It can be a virtual goldmine of travel related information and is well worth the time setting up a Facebook account for this reason alone. Assuming you are one of the 500 million+ people that actively use Facebook, then you are likely to be part of the 78% of people who are influenced by the opinions of their peers (as noted by Erik Qualman @equalman author of Socialnomics). This makes Facebook your ideal platform for consumer research of any kind. Type Phuket into Facebook’s search box and the first results shown will be those profiles and pages that your friends have already engaged with on some level.

Facebook Search Results influenced by my friends

Facebook Search Results influenced by my friends

Imagine if you find that the top 3 results in your Facebook search for Phuket are actually the Facebook Profiles or Fanpages for hotels/resorts that are on your shortlist. How far will knowing your friends opinions about these places go towards influencing your decision on which resort to choose? How cool would it be to read the latest posts from your friends on your desired location in Phuket? This is easily done by selecting the ‘posts by friends’ option.

Facebook Post by Friends Search Results for Karon Beach

The social aspect of Facebook means you can then very easily connect with each of your friends or even engage them all together in a discussion about the best location for your dream holiday in Phuket.

Even if you’r friends haven’t posted about your desired resort, you can borrow someone else’s friends by searching for ‘Posts by everyone’ to see if anything about you favourite location or resort in phuket comes up.

Facebook Search Posts by Everyone

Facebook Search Posts by Everyone

You can quickly form an opinion of each location or resort on your shortlist based on up-to-date, socially generated information. If these methods don’t yield any results for your dream resort, then carry out a general search as chances are they have a Facebook presence. Request to become a ‘friend’ of that resort or ‘like’ their fanpage and that will give you a chance to engage with the resort on a level that was not previously possible.

Connecting with your dream resort in Phuket via Facebook means not only connecting with the marketing and public relations team at the resort, but also connecting with fellow guests who engage with this resort and form part of their community on Facebook. This can be a really useful method  of quickly obtaining information about a resort or Phuket in general from a variety of sources.

Island Tour recommendations from our Thavorn Beach Facebook Community

Island Tour recommendations from our Thavorn Beach Facebook Community

Once you have connected with your dream resort, you may also be able to take advantage of some great Facebook offers such as our Friends of Thavorn Promotion.

This is where your research on the Hotel Booking Sites will come in handy as you will have established a base price for each hotel and now you can look around on Facebook to see what special offers can top those prices.

Stay tuned for my 4th Tip for finding that dream holiday in Phuket.

Cheers

Roger

Top 10 Tips for finding your Dream Holiday in Phuket. Tip #2 Use Hotel Booking Sites to establish a base price.

After you have engaged in the services of Tripadvisor to help narrow down your search for that dream holiday in Phuket, my second tip is:

#Tip 2: Use Hotel Booking sites to establish a base price for your shortlisted hotels.

Hotel booking Sites such as Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia all make this task remarkably easy so take advantage. They all have very intuitive user interfaces and are great for filtering results, based on location, hotel star rating, budget, and hotel theme???? (Yes, you can even search for hotels based upon the type of holiday you are looking for in Phuket whether that be romance/honeymoonspa/relaxfamilycity trip).

They also incorporate great mapping functionality that helps you really visualise the location and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each hotel on your shortlist (such as great price, but 3 blocks from the beach). At every step of the way you can easily compare the room rates of your potential hotels and as the top Hotel Booking sites generally offer competitive rates, they provide a useful guideline as you begin to narrow down your search in term of budget.

If you like the look of a particular hotel, but it is proving just out of your budget range, don’t fret and strike it off your list. By using hotel booking sites to establish this base price for the hotels on your list, you now have a good idea of the price you have got to beat in order to book that dream holiday. That’s right, use these services to establish the price to beat then use the tips in my following blog posts to hunt down those special offers and promotions that are going to bring that dream holiday within reach.

Karon Beach Hotels on Expedia
Karon Beach Hotels on Expedia

Before we do that however, these sites really try to help you make that all important decision by reflecting the true state of the market place so use them to their full capability. Booking.com has a great feature where you can see what other customers are ‘also interested in’, which hotels have been ‘recently booked and when’ and ‘which hotels are rated highest’ by real customers.

Real Time Information about Thavorn Palm Beach Resort on booking.com

Real Time Information about Thavorn Palm Beach Resort on booking.com

It also has the ability to ‘like’ and ‘share’ a hotel or particular location, on Facebook, Twitter or by email, which in turn shows you how many of your friends have ‘liked’ or ‘shared’ that hotel or location. I would like to see the top sites integrating with Facebook Connect in the future, which I am sure would produce some highly innovative and useful additions to the site.

To help save you some time as you compare the prices of your selected hotels, I have provided some links below to popular phuket searches on some of the top Hotel Booking sites.

Agoda – Phuket
Agoda – Karon Beach.
Agoda Thavorn Palm Beach Resort
Expedia – Phuket
Expedia – Karon Beach
Expedia – Thavorn Palm Beach Resort
Booking.com – Phuket
Booking.com – Karon Beach Resort
Booking.com – Thavorn Palm Beach Resort

As I have stated throughout this article, when you have used the Hotel Booking sites to establish a base price for the hotels on your short list, shop around on the hotels’ own website or Facebook & Twitter Pages to try and find yourself a real bargain that might bring that resort that was previously out of reach, back into budget. Although the rates on Hotel Booking sites are usually competitive, alot of hotels’ reward customers who book through their own website and some have Facebook only deals.

For example, our Friends of Thavorn promotion is open to everyone who registers with their email address and offers exclusive, great room rates as well as the chance to ‘WIN a luxury holiday in Phuket’.

More about how Social Media helps you to really hone down your search for the dream holiday in Phuket in my next tip.

Cheers

Roger

Top Tips for Wading through TripAdvisor

You may have mixed feelings over the tropical Island of Phuket, with tales of touristy, overcrowed resorts yet sublimely, stunningly beautiful, deserted white sand beaches clouding the issue.

Heaven or Hell ?

Heaven or Hell ?

These types of feeling are not only isolated to Phuket, far from it, and before you book a holiday to any travel destination, you will more than likely begin dissecting thousands of TripAdvisor reviews, wading knee deep through other people’s, holiday joys and woes.

Wading through Tripadvisor Reviews

Wading through Tripadvisor Reviews

If this sounds like alot of hard work, that’s because IT CAN BE!!! While you are chained to your desktop, America’s Next … Reality Fad will be going on without you. It doesn’t need to be like this however and because you have decided to read these tips first, it will make the job a little easier, more fruitful and ultimately less time consuming for you.

1. Do your Friend’s opinions count?

I’m guessing they do. In fact over 78% of people are influenced by the opinions of their family and friends (Erik Qualman @equalman author of Socialnomics). To tap into this, TripAdvisor has added a great new addition where you can Connect with your Facebook account. This allows you to see your friends’ recent travel activity and also view their favourite travel destinations. I can see that many of my facebook friends have visited Koh Phi Phi, so I click on the link and it takes me straight to the page. It also shows me which hotels my friends have written a review for and as I trust BIG LEE’s judgement, this is likely to hold alot of weight.

Tripadvisor with Facebook Connect

My friends social activity through Tripadvisor with Facebook Connect

2. Safety in Numbers!

Before you dive headlong into individual reviews, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. TripAdvisor Ranks each hotel and resort in a particular destination based on it’s customer reviews, so you can see which hotels have consistently received Top Ranking ‘positive’ reviews.

Phuket Map - Numbers indicate Tripadvisor Ranking for each resort/hotel

Phuket Map - Numbers indicate Tripadvisor Ranking for each resort/hotel

3. Save valuable time by narrowing down your search

If you know you are only interested in a family beach resort with pool and activities for kids, then tick the boxes under ‘Amenity Type’ for ‘beach’ ‘pool’ and ‘kids activities’. TripAdvisor will filter out the unsuitable properties thus saving you valuable time in the process. In fact, I have done it for you here, saving you even more time.

4. Look for common trends in reviews.

Look for common trends across a number of reviews rather than hold a single review in too much esteem. We all know people who see the world through Rose Coloured Glasses and we also know people for whom nothing is ever good enough. There could have been an isolated problem at a resort or the guest could have had a bad holiday for other reasons (like they just found out they can’t stand their partner).

5. Look at how hotels deal with negative reviews.

TripAdvisor gives hoteliers the opportunity to respond to reviews. There could have been a good reason why the pool was sub-standard, but if the hotel doesn’t address this then it looks like they either don’t care or they agree with the reviewer.

Luxurious Freeform pool with Swim up Bar

Luxurious Freeform pool with Swim up Bar

6. Scrutinise the source of troublesome reviews

If a particular review is putting doubts in your mind about your desired resort then scrutinise the credibility of the source by checking the reviewers profile. See what other reviews they have posted and if they are the kind of person for who you would happily follow their advice. Remember, you’re idea of the perfect holiday might not be the same as your grandparents.

Are these your kind of people? (Actually, Yes)

This Party Rocks !!!

7. Deal and Offer Coupons

You can take advantage of some great discount coupons on TripAdvisor by clicking the Deal and Offers Tab. Remember to always check other sources as well, such as hotel booking websites, Facebook pages, Twitter and hotel websites as these coupons might not be the best deals you can find on the web.

8. Member Profile Area

TripAdvisor has the handy feature where you can save all your research into your own member profile area which includes your recent travel searches and any hotels you may have added to your shortlist.

My Member Profile on Tripadvisor

My Member Profile on Tripadvisor

Here are a few Tripadvisor searches on Phuket to get you started.

Visiting Phuket, Thailand
Karon Hotels
Thavorn Palm Beach Resort
Inside Phuket: Written by travelers for travelers

9. Ask the Tripadvisor Community

If you have any burning questions then the Tripadvisor forums are a great place to look for answers. Again, to get you started, I have listed some useful searches.

Tripadvisor Forum – Phuket
Tripadvisor Forum – Karon Beach
Tripadvisor Forum – Thavorn Hotels and Resorts

10. Don’t get distracted.

Remember, you do have a life outside of TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor can become entertainment in itself, especially when you uncover reviews like this.

“I spent the night in the (hotel) room and experienced a friendly spirit. This presence got into bed with me, an old lady, she was nice and I just patted her on the head and we had a comfortable restful sleep. I think I will ask for a different room next time.”

but you must resist the urge and use it for it’s intended purpose, to help you find your dream holiday destination

If you would like any insider tips on Phuket then please leave me a comment or contact me at any time via my Facebook and Twitter pages below.

Cheers

Roger

Use Social Media for your Travel Research

Hi Welcome to my travel/social media blog. I’d like to kick off with a travel tip for you all. You’ve decided that Phuket is the holiday destination for you, so when researching where to stay, why not check out social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as most of the hotels and resorts on your short list will have a presence there.

Most people when researching their chosen holiday destination on line will visit travel review sites such as Tripadvisor, but many have not even considered seeing what other people are saying about a particular hotel or resort on Facebook or Twitter?

Often, you will have a hotel or resort in your mind and although the review sites have helped narrow down your search, it can be really useful to start a conversation with someone who has already stayed at the hotel to seek out their opinion on any questions you may have.

Whilst Tripadvisor does have a forum for answering such questions, a resort’s Facebook page can be the place to quickly obtain exactly the information you require. Often, if you post a message on the wall of the Facebook page, in next to no time, a fellow guest is only to happy to assist, as illustrated in my example below.

Thavorn Beach Village and Spa (TBV), Phuket, Thailand

Please click image to read guest comments

I think this instantaneous level of engagement is fantastic and helps personalise the whole process of travel research where often the reviews which help form the basis of your decisions are from anonymous sources with an axe to grand.

Roger

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