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My travel tech trade news work, 2014 and 2015

I’ve written 800+ posts for trade news site Tnooz, where in July 2015 I became its editor-in-chief.

My scoops and articles have been widely read, with 9 of the 10 most-shared articles on Tnooz in the past year having been written by me, as verified by BuzzSumo.

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I’m proudest of my following work:

Real scoops: not the rewriting press releases a few minutes faster

I was the first to report that Orbitz was up for sale and Expedia was a likely bidder. A week later, Bloomberg News followed. The next month a $1.6 billion deal was announced.

My article on Google starting to facilitate hotel booking transactions rather than hand customers off to other websites was the first in the media by days and was the week’s most-read article on Tnooz. An investment analyst said the news boosted the likelihood of regulatory approval of the Orbitz/Expedia merger.

I had a scoop on suspicious search engine optimization practices by some major online travel companies. The article was widely discussed in the industry. Google then penalized Expedia Inc in search rankings.

I was the first journalist to report on a French tribunal’s decision on Expedia’s contracts with hotels, even scooping Le Figaro.

I had the exclusive report in which US Airways explained their decision to drop the airline’s request for damages against Sabre from $73 million to $20.

I’ve had dozens of scoops on funding news, prior to official announcements, such as Hotel Urbano’s $50 million investment round.

Interviews/Q&As
In November 2014, I did an in-depth, in-person interview with Expedia’s CEO and with Joel Cutler, perhaps the most famous venture capitalist in travel.

Breaking news

I was the first to report — and first to report in-depth — that TripAdvisor bought Viator for $200 million and that TravelClick had sold for $930 million.

I broke the news that Sabre had set aside $500 million for an acquisition and had the first exhaustive report, based on months of research, of what that acquisition meant once it was made official.

Days prior to the planned announcement, I reported that HotelTonight was switching to a seven-day booking window.

Analysis/Narrative

My in-depth pieces have been widely cited in the industry. My article “Does the Expedia billboard effect still exist for hotels?” kickstarted an industry discussion. So did my breakdown of a study that found that, at upscale hotels, guest acquisition costs are devouring room revenue growth. So did my analysis of TripAdvisor’s pivotal new product that pivoted its revenue model.

Some important, in-depth articles I’ve reported are on how Expedia ads now trail you from desktop to mobile. I highlighted how the most cited third-party web analytics tool had suspect data, why OTAs and hotels feed each other fake data, and which online travel companies may be in violation of one US law.

Startup profiles
Many of the startups I’ve profiled were soon after acquired, such as Buuteeq by Priceline, RocketMiles by Priceline, and Pricematch by Priceline. I anticipated multiple investments by HomeAway in companies worldwide in the past year.

Work for Lonely Planet’s news operation

Since April 2015, I’ve been writing for LonelyPlanet.com. I’ve been blogging on a nearly daily basis about travel news, such as “Bags that track themselves could be the end of lost luggage”, which airlines are trying flight auctions, and what’s behind the surprising boom in flash deals for hotels.

Highlights of my work


bbc hompeage travel tech

BBC TRAVEL

How Google Glass could ease air travel (This presaged by a few months Virgin’s pioneering test of the technology.)

New measures in airport security

Skip the hotel, stay in a horse A look at unusual lodging worldwide.

Think you can fly a jumbo jet? Try this new simulator in London

TNOOZ

The most widely read of my articles in 2013 was: “Kayak adds price forecasts to US and UK fare search, saying it’s better than Bing Travel

My most commented-on article of 2013 was this: “Three years on from Google Panda, many travel sites struggle with traffic.”

My three most favorite Tnooz posts of 2013.

Two favorite interviews I learned so much from while doing:
A Q&A with Paul English, co-founder of Kayak and Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk

I’m proud of the many scoops I had on the European rail industry, in particular. I was first to report on Amadeus’s effort to integrate European rail data, on Loco2’s debut, on GoEuro’s funding round, and on Capitaine Train’s debut (well, at least first in English on that one).

USA TODAY

What to do in London if you’re visiting as a cruisegoer

 

My more deeply reported pieces and narratives

I’ve done many deeply reported longreads. Some examples:

I explained how Expedia advertisements began to trail customers from desktop to mobile, in a ground-breaking marketing effort.

My May 2013 story on how an Accor executive had misused TripAdvisor ratings was cited by the New York Times

My reporting led to a major online travel agency, CheapOair, to disavow some dubious search engine optimisation practices.

I had another minor scoop here: Caught red-handed: Airbnb, TripVillas, and the curious case of a rogue spammer.

I also revealed how one US company had (mis-)handled a revelation by an ethical hacker of a security vulnerability in its payment process, which I was the first journalist to report on and which was a flaw affecting multiple companies.

A few years ago, I filed a US Freedom of Information Act request to find out what records the federal government had collected on me from my travels internationally. My travel dossier was picked up by several publications, like BoingBoing.net.

I’ve been effective at generating off-diary stories. For instance, earlier this year, I wrote about a proposed switch by airlines worldwide from running their reservations systems on a 40-year-old programming language called Edifact to more modern XML-based languages. I interviewed sources over two months and subsequently produced a series of in-depth reports on the topic, like this summary and this set of screenshots.

Startup coverage is something I excel at, and I have reviewed dozens of startups for various publications. For Tnooz, I recently dug in to what happened to a Bulgarian-based business-to-business travel technology startup called Everbread, which had collected millions in venture capital funding but managed to disappear off of the industry’s radar.

I have many industry contacts, and they supply useful story leads. I was the first to report in July on a new consortium to create a pan-European booking tool for multi-modal transport. For instance, by cultivating contacts within Loco2, a UK rail-ticketing startup, I was the first reporter to publish a story about the Guardian’s decision to hire the company as a white-label provider for its Guardian Trains tool.

An earlier piece by me on the rise of peer-to-peer car hire schemes in the US was published in print and online by the New York Times.

I’m agnostic on storytelling formats. I’ve used six-second .gif files to explain the replacement of postcards with Vines, and I’ve produced a couple of videos and dozens of slide shows.

These heavily reported, “investigative” pieces supplement my main bread-and-butter work, which has been reviewing technology products and services for consumers, which I’ve honed since 2007, when I did a in-person factory visit at Blue Nile, the first online retailer of diamond rings, to my current regular gig reviewing consumer tools and websites for BBC.com/travel — where I’ve written 20 reviews in 2013 to mid-year.