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?
Find me on Google+
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/honeymoon, spa/relax, family, city 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are a few Tripadvisor searches on Phuket to get you started.
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.
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.
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.
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.