Friday Round-Up: All The Travel News That Fits

Much like Jack Bauer on 24, I find that Friday has come around and there is NO MORE TIME to do all the things I wanted to accomplish by week’s end.  But, I have so much cool stuff I want to tell you about!  So, here we go!

This is best read if you picture me Walter Cronkite-like, reporting over a clacking news ticker. Or, that we’re having a delicious lunch and a glass of wine on the terrace. Either way, it’s VERY NEWSY.

First up, regarding the late night cornetto tragedy in Rome:  “Il cornetto è salvo!” (“The cornetto is saved!”) Hilariously, this is an exact quote from the Mayor of Rome, who appeared in person to officially announce the good news “to calm the people of the night, agitated for days after the news of the closing of late night ovens at 1AM.” The article calls the whole ordeal “Cornetto-Gate.” AWESOME.

So: Rome and I are back together. Come on. How could I stay mad at a city whose populace rises up in passionate defense of late-night snack foods? (No word on the fate of the sausage truck at Porta Maggiore; must do further research.)

Girls Guide to the World is a new boutique travel planning website targeted toward the fairer sex.  As usual when I find a new travel site, I go to where I know – France and Italy – to see how they stack up.  While they’re not going to win any points for including The Drunken Ship  – a Girls Gone Wild nightmare – as one of the top five bars in Rome, their hotel choices are great for the cities I know and love, and there are some interesting, off-the-beaten-path options for other leisure time pursuits.

Today is the last day to get your “My Melange Sent Me” pics over to Robin at My Melange.  Have fun with it!

isango! is a pretty cool site. It’s like Expedia or (the much-dreaded, to me at least) Travel Advisor, but for stuff to do.  Click on “Venice,” for example, and you get a full list – gondola serenades, walking tours, etc. – with prices, reviews and easy-to-use filters.  Very cool.

My experience with Viscape has been a confusing one. It’s not apparent from their home page what they do, exactly; further research reveals them to be a “social marketplace for travelers, owners, and real estate professionals to come together to network, exchange ideas, conduct business, meet and organize trips around vacation properties and second homes.”  Now, those are seriously diverse target markets to satisfy with one community website.

What drew me to their site was a promotion I saw on Twitter,  a contest they had called “Be a Travel Writer.” My interest piqued, I read that entrants had to enter travel stories in order to be in the running for some sweet travel writing gigs in either Belize or Key West. Sweet! Where do I sign up!

No, really, where do I sign up? Even after I registered on the site, I couldn’t find anywhere to write a travel story, let alone any information about the contest – except a months-old forum discussion stating that the contest was over, and they had already gotten their 1,000 contestants – with no reply from anyone at Viscape. Oh, well.

Then I received a lovely email from someone named Dorothy Carlow at Viscape, welcoming me to the community and encouraging me to enter the contest. But, when I go to the link she provided, there’s nothing there about writing your own destinations at all.

CONFUSION. Can anyone out there who’s done this help a sister out?

This tidbit of news is about another contest:

“American Express has announced the start of the Advance Your World Challenge, an interactive online race, sponsored by American Express, in which participants compete for 1,000 prizes, including seven grand prizes of one million Hilton HHonors bonus points– enough for a 25 days Hilton Family hotels worldwide; Hilton HHonors Diamond VIP tier status upgrade for one year; and a ten thousand dollar cash prize. The contest, which runs from March 1 through April 15, 2009, is open to all current members of the Hilton HHonors guest program or anyone who registers to join the program.”

It looks like it’s easy to register, which I am about to do right now. A chance to spend 25 days at a Hilton hotel sounds right up my alley!

Dubai takes an economic nosediveThe wealthy Gulf state of Dubai has been hit hard by the global economic crisis. Tens of thousands of workers have been laid off and forced to return to their homelands. The Dutch community in Dubai is also feeling the pinch. Ouch.

Competitours is like The Amazing Race for regular people.  This is yet another reason why I must become independently wealthy. Either that, or find the time to find sponsors who will pay for me to go.  Otherwise?  Ain’t gonna happen this year.

Fabulous Cousin sent me an equally fabulous link – in which Catholics in Italy are urged to give up texting for Lent.  What would Jesus do? I wonder if he’d be on Twitter?

Finally, Samantha at Work In Europe poses the question – with great links – is working abroad right for you?

5 thoughts on “Friday Round-Up: All The Travel News That Fits

  1. While I can’t be certain it sounds like Viscape may be the same site a friend recently wrote about on her blog (she would not refer to it by name, instead calling it “Trawler”. Her blog’s not up right now, but here’s the pertinete part copied below:

    °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

    I smell a (well-traveled) rat.
    from The Lucky Nest by Ellie
    (LONG RANT AHEAD – feel free to skip. Probably boring unless you’re a fellow freelance writer.)

    My day job is truly glamorous. I troll the internets late at night, caffeine delivery system in hand, searching for small freelance writing and editing gigs to help finance my addictions to raspberry gelato and Frye boots.

    Occasionally, work comes to me on its own. Some person exposed to my writing (and who knows what toxic fumes), becomes convinced that I’m their wordbird, and I very gratefully accept whatever short-term, low-pay worms I’m offered.

    Sometimes, I’m invited to write for websites pro bono. This is only slightly less exciting, because rather than focus on the lack of income such a position offers, I thrill to the compliment of having my creativity solicited.

    I see the gelato cup as half full.

    Of course, wonderful as this is, it’s turned me into a would-be freelance superhero, poised to craft painfully beautiful treatments of subject X on a moment’s notice. Just give the signal, and I’ll dial up my special brand of poignant snark (poignsnark ®) to clobber the capers of cliché and banality. No need to thank me, ma’am! It’s what I do. **puffs up proudly**

    Well, I’m not at all sure, but I suspect I’ve been duped by The (Masked) Man.

    I recently answered a job ad calling for travel writers for an upstart self-described “mom and pop” website – we’ll call it “Travvler”. The position offered was that of a “community manager” – someone to both generate region-specific content and oversee the editing of other material. The pay? $1k/month for a part-time gig. Since freelancers are usually juggling at least a few different jobs at once, this isn’t too bad.

    Here’s how it works: the site relies on registered users submitting paragraph-long “trips”. These are reviews of travel experiences, drawing heavily on sense impressions and an “insider” vibe. Each 100 words-or-less description is paired with the photograph that inspired it. Anyone can submit a trip, but Travvler editors only publish the best articles. Travvler makes money by linking to related travel resources (hotels, airfare) next to each trip.

    Applicants for the community manager position are asked to “audition” by submitting a few trips of their own. They then announce their candidacy by clicking an “Apply” button, which generates a response form basically saying “Thanks, we’ll review your work and let you know if you’re a good fit for employment at Travvler. Meanwhile, keep those trips coming! And oh yeah, don’t forget to tell your friends about us…and add us on MySpace and Facebook while you’re at it! The more people that use Travvler, the more jobs we can offer!”

    I call bullshit.

    I did a little digging and found that Travvler has posted job ads for community managers in several US cities over the past few months. The application process for all of these is the same – generate free content for the site, sit back, and wait.

    There is no direct contact info for anyone employed by Travvler. Not on the employment listings, not on the website, and not on the user forum dedicated to the site. In fact, that user forum is outsourced. And that forum is a veritable waiting room of desperate freelancers. Post after post from would-be “community managers” and writers all over the states, asking if their content has been reviewed, how the selection process is coming, and when they can expect to hear something.

    The response from Travvler staff? “Everyone hang tight, we’ll be making an announcement soon. Just keep those trips coming! We’ve been really busy launching our Facebook app…have you checked it out and told your friends about us yet?”

    I may be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But it really seems sketchy. No contact info. No evidence of ANY community managers or paid travel writers having been hired. Just Travvler’s word that these jobs exist. No elaboration on how the “community” is divided, either (the question was posed on the forum and ignored by Travvler staff). But say at the very least each state gets its own community manager. That’s $1k/month x 50 states. Um, that’s $600k a year for employee wages, for a “mom and pop” start up??

    Thing is, this company has really impressive roots. The founders and startup consultants are quite pedigreed in the social networking arena. Their names and CVs are prominently posted on Travvler…just not their email addresses.

    Who knows? Maybe it’s legit and I’m way off base. But if I’m onto something, and this company is really just using hungry freelance writers (such as myself) to generate free content while dangling thousand-dollar carrots in front of us…well, let’s just say I can think of some sense impressions I’d like to create for Travvler’s owners using those carrots.

    When I publish my first book, of course, this will all be but an amusing footnote to my career.

    °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

    • Carrie,

      She’s referring to Trazzler, and I’m sorry she had that experience. I love that site, and have written trips for them both for free, when I first signed up, as well as being (very) well paid for writing 20 of them. I, too, recently applied for the Community Manager job in my area, via Elance (they posted a job there), and am awaiting a reply. I can attest to their legitimacy.

  2. Hi,

    Sorry for the confusion surrounding our “Be A Travel Writer Contest.”

    Here is a link to all the details and rules for Viscape’s contest! http://blog.viscape.com/2008/05/be-a-travel-writer-contest/

    But, basically, all you need to do is sign-in to the Viscape site and then pick a destination and write a review. ALL reviews that are user generated will be entered into our contest! We will close the contest when we have 1000 reviews written by our users. We have over 500 reviews on the site right now.

    Thanks,
    Dorothy

    • OK, I see it now, I get it. I think my problem was that it is for a limited amount of places? I kept typing in places I like, and they weren’t showing up, and it wasn’t giving me an option to add places. Sorted!

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