What follows is ETS-presenter and travel blogging expert Sheila Scarborough’s impressions of the Google Tour. While I personally may not agree with many of her conclusions, I thought the insights were good and she’s included several observations that I know others felt but were too squeamish to articulate. Thank you, Sheila. -JS
There is no question that Google looks like an amazing place to work. There is a sense of possibility there, a sense of play, a sense of enormous opportunity. The pseudo-librarian in me is attracted to the idea of “organizing the world’s information,” and heaven knows the ability to Google someone is pretty dog gone handy. Good thing I’m happily married and not on the dating scene – although I did Google a guy once who said some odd things to my daughter on her Facebook profile. 🙂
My inner skeptic chewed on these thoughts, however….
- Employees have every need cared for: meals, transportation (with power plugs and WiFi), car maintenance, a bookmobile, laundry, free this-that-and-the-other-thing. I found that a bit creepy and controlling at some level. As an bootstrapping entrepreneur myself, I live every day with blurred lines between work and non-work, and I’m mostly OK with that, but I wonder how many starry-eyed employees realize that the “free” bottle of Odwalla Blueberry B Monster Superfood bottled drink actually comes with a price tag – their time and attention.
- Was super-thrilled to briefly meet the head of the Google Anti-Spam team, Matt Cutts, as he came through a door I was going out of. I’ve followed Matt at many SEO (Search Engine Optimization) conferences and online, and he’s a straight shooter. His explanatory YouTube videos about SEO are always worth watching.
- The Google Travel presentation was like watching my search life on a screen. I go all over the place online looking for travel information. They absolutely nailed the process that so many of us use. My main objection was that the answer to everything was a properly-placed advertisement. Of course, this is how Google makes money, but I have had reasonable success with SEO for organic search and the only time I have EVER paid for advertising for my business was a $50 experiment on….Facebook. And, sorry Google, but I hardly ever click an ad or a sponsored search result, either.
What is my number one bit of advice for tourism and hospitality people when it comes to Google search? Claim and completely fill out your Google Places profile, then encourage reviews from visitors and customers. Cost to do so? Free. The Google Travel folks never really talked about that.
I’m glad that Jake arranged this tour; I learned a ton and certainly enjoyed it. However, I’m 50….I remember when Yahoo! was a big deal.
Never devote all of your efforts to one online channel or methodology. You will eventually regret it.
Sheila Scarborough, Tourism Currents (http://www.tourismcurrents.com)