A New Mapplet for See Your Hotel

September 12th, 2007

Hopefully it will get integrated in the directory, but until then you can test it with the “add by url”. It is at http://www.3rdcrust.com/mapplet/syh.xml. It functions as a layer, you activate it and you see the hotels for the current viewport it updates whenever you move the map.

Review of Darin.cc or what we would do for links

August 30th, 2007

I found a blog about Search Marketing at darin.cc.  It has nice information about Pay Per Click management, and other SEM, SEO stuff. From what I see, this blog is poised to get pretty big. It has all the right hooks: content, links exchange and promotions. Now you can win a Free Nintendo Wii and get link to your blog if you post about his blog. Previously I got killed at Pay per click for seeyourhotel, I may try again with some of the newly acquired information.

You know what convinced me to write this? Obviously it’s the link back. The first thing I did when I saw the blog was check if it was going to get a good PR in the future. It was well positioned to get a PR4 maybe even 5, also it is running an ad on johnchow.com so it should do all right. Then I started to read more and more of the blog to see if the content was of enough quality to warrant a link. It was Ok, it is not ground breaking, but seems like yet another good introduction to SEO and SEM.

New Features, we will need a help page

August 27th, 2007

We’ve added a proximity filter and list of considered hotels. By clicking on the map you add circles that you can recenter and stretch to highlight hotels inside. If two or more circles are present then only the hotels in all the circles are highlighted. This lets user choose hotels at the intersection of their points of interest. We still present all the non-matching hotels with transparency so alternative can still be looked up. As for the list, now each infowindow has a link that let “Add For Review”, so it is easier to get back and forth between 2 or more hotels that needs more consideration.

We already saw that the site was not performing as well for user arriving in a general world view. With only the zoom in marker, they need more information on how to use the site. With those two new features it’s just more imperative that we add a help page with directions on how to use the interface.

I still think it is clean and uncluttered, but we will certainly wait to see how those are assimilated before adding anything else to the interface.

I was wrong!

August 21st, 2007

I always thought that even if Google Earth was a nice product, it was too much of a niche product. So when we did See Your Hotel we obviously put all our efforts on Google Maps. At Google Developer Day 2007, the Google people kept insisting on how they would index kml and that we should supply that data to build a better index. I was not convinced, but it was easy enough for us to start producing kml using Rails “respond to”. Nothing happened for some time, we where happy at least Google could index more of our site even if we didn’t get any traffic. One day that changed we saw Google Earth clients downloading our kml files directly. And in the next day some people even made reservations using those files. I was wrong there are enough people using Google Earth to matter, and so I put up a list of KML files for hotels by cities. It is not pretty, but you can at least find all of the cities for which we have data in one place. I have to work on some more useful interface, but in the meantime here is the list.

John Chow Contest, Too Late For Me…

August 13th, 2007

I already bought my pages on The Million Dollar Wiki, so I can not take advantage of John Chow blog contest, but you can. He’s giving away a 24″ wide screen LCD monitor and a signed copy of the excellent (I Have one already) book, The 4-Hour Workweek! Find out how to enter here. The contest is being sponsored by The Million Dollar Wiki. The real benefit to you is that he setup a coupon code to save $10 on a page. Use the code JohnChow and you’ll have a page for 90$.

In case you are wondering what are my pages:

Hotel
Cruise
Mortgage
Refinance
Life Insurance
Home Insurance
Car Insurance

We don’t know yet what we will do with them except the one for hotel that will refer to seeyourhotel obviously.

Million Dollar Wiki, Sounds Familiar?

August 8th, 2007

Yet another twist on the million dollar homepage meme. But if you ask me, I think it is a really great idea. It’s like squidoo meets the million dollar homepage. Go check out the milliondollarwiki. There’s a lot of keyword worth a lot of money there and if you grab some now, you’ll be probably very happy in a year. There is no garantee, but it’s an interesting bet.

New Corporate Website

August 2nd, 2007

We decided almost from the start that seeyourhotel would not be our company. We organize this so seeyourhotel is just a project of 3rc Crust. That’s the name of the mother company. But until now only seeyourhotel had a web presence, now it has changed. We proudly introduce www.3rdcrust.com. This is the site where we will maintain the company information. This is probably where this blog belongs.

For now it is more oriented toward the service side of the business. For now all of our profits come from the service side of the company and this is what allows us to try different ideas. Tell me what you think of the site.

Conversion, raise it!

June 29th, 2007

The conversion rate is really the one statistic that influences your bottom line. If you have a ton of incoming traffic, but you don’t have a good conversion rate, you’re bust. Serving a lot of traffic for no gain is not funny. What is great is that it is cheaper by the day to handle traffic, so you need less and less paying conversion to make money. Now to our case, the seeyourhotel site, we are not yet driving too much traffic to the site, but we have conversions.

We track two kinds of conversions. The first is when someone decides to check the details of the hotel on hotels.com. The seconds is when they do a reservation. We have a very good idea of what is happening for the first conversion, but the second is really just on hotels.com site, so we have only the number. Here are those numbers for April, May and June (1-29). We were not running ads all that time. April conversion rate for goal1(Send traffic to hotels.com) is 17.29%. For goal2(make a reservation) is 0.41% globally which means that from goal1 to goal2 the conversion rate is 2.36%. May conversion rate for goal1(Send traffic to hotels.com) is 8.89%. For goal2(make a reservation) is 0.30% globally which means that from goal1 to goal2 the conversion rate is 3.33%. June (to the 28) conversion rate for goal1(Send traffic to hotels.com) is 11.84%. For goal2(make a reservation) is 0.30% globally which means that from goal1 to goal2 the conversion rate is 2.52%. Maybe those numbers are decent, but I see them as pretty low except for goal1. We send a good percentage of our traffic to the hotels.com site, but then the conversion is pretty low.

One of the big problem until now was that the look and feel on the second site was radically different then what we had on our site. We have changed that today to have matching logo and colors. I want to see if the numbers will radically change or stay like this and that’s why I wrote this post. I’ll do a follow-up in August, July will be the first full month with the integrated look.

Google Developer Day 2007

June 4th, 2007

I had the chance to go to Google Developer Day 2007. It was a very well organized day at San Jose Convention center. I was mostly interested in the Geoweb track of presentation so I attended Opening Keynote, Extending Google SketchUp: A Developer’s View, Google and the Geoweb, New Features in Maps API, Making Maps Mashups Discoverable with Google Mapplets and Fireside Chat: Geo Product Team.

The event was well organized, it was just like any other professional conference, and even better the wifi coverage was flawless. Also who can complain about free food all day long and an excellent selection of free beverages? No kidding the attendees have been pampered. The night event was also great and allowed people to meet with fellow attendees.

Here are my comments for each presentation. The opening keynote was interesting and gave us a nice introduction of the day to come. Sergey Brin made an appearance with a promising story which ended being just a joke and not a very funny joke. At least he was there and the start of his speech was good.

The SketchUp part was probably very interesting for everyone but me. I went thinking they would have something for maps, but not really. It was just a showcase of the product and they said they have an API for plugins. The product seems very nice, I was just not the target audience.

Google and the Geoweb was the part where they started hitting the KML note. They just love KML. I like it too and I understand it’s easier for Google to index KML than to understand javascript. But I started to be seriously annoyed at this do everything in KML (or GeoRSS), it’s like Google saying forget all document type and do plain html for us to crawl. I understand that if we want visibility we should use KML, but at some point it was just too much. I guess my problem is that for now I can’t make everything go as smoothly in KML now.

New features in Maps API was really the session for me. Driving directions and Ads manager will be great. Also the fact adsense on the page will react to the view port is great. This session was full of very interesting information. The only problem with this one was the questions. The first presenter started to answer them as they were coming and it quickly made the presentation painful to listen. He should have asked the people to wait for a specific time and go to the microphone. We got interesting questions in the lot, but a great part was basic documentation questions.

Mapplets was a good presentation. The background info on how the Mapplets work was a very nice touch. They plan to put the usage of Mapplets in the API, so this is really great because it should allow sites to make fantastic maps without spending too much time on non-core functions of their maps. I see great things for site with core functions on the map and a collection of supporting Mapplets.

Finally the fireside chat. Listen to all the questions and concerns was great. The team seemed to genuinely care, and they were very knowledgeable. Must be great working with any of those guys. Also, it made me realize a good part of the attendees had interest for Google Earth. To me this is so strange, I have such a bias in favor of Google Maps. I really see Earth as a niche player and Maps as such a great consumer product. I have nothing against niches, I just didn’t expect to see so many people in that niche.

Finally it was a good day where I got to meet nice people. I don’t know yet if I’ll go back, but it was a nice day.

Got to love Squidoo

May 25th, 2007

I just added a series of lenses on Squidoo, to promote seeyourhotel with 10 cities. It’s very easy to make great pages in no time at all. Here is the list of the lenses, if you want to check them. If you haven’t check Squidoo to promote your service, you are missing a great site and a great community.