Saturday, May 30, 2015

Travels: TripAdvisor Reviews

The following is an excerpt taken from an article by Linda Fox, deputy editor for TNOOZ.

Since I write reviews for many things, places, and travel related gear, this was important to me. If you travel and read reviews about hotels…this will be important to you.

For years TripAdvisor has kept how it vets its reviews a closely guarded secret, prompting calls for verified reviews and column inches from the media on supposed mistreated hotels.
Now, the review giant is shedding a little more light on how it keeps the boosters, vandals and optimizers at bay.
The company feels strongly about the verified reviews route and says it believes its scale of the reviews is what maintains its content integrity and that verified reviews are still open to manipulation.
The process it takes follows a general pattern – review is submitted and goes through an automated process with about 50 filters for integrity and moderation issues.
It then falls into one of three paths:
·         no issues are identified and it is published.
·         definite issues are identified and it is rejected e.g. for profanity – the system scores words and gets more accurate at removing inappropriate reviews.
·         issues are highlighted and the review needs closer scrutiny by an analyst to determine whether it meets guidelines. It is then published or rejected.
TripAdvisor says it has a bank of 300 content specialists, many of who have backgrounds in law enforcement, credit card fraud and even forensic computing.
Business owners also have a role to play and can report a potential blackmail situation, for example upgrade or bad review. TripAdvisor senior vice president, global product, Adam Medros, says 80% of the time no review materializes.
He adds that of the 139 reviews the company receives every minute, the percentage that is problematic or fraudulent is in the “low, low single digits.”
He argues that the gain is not worth the risk and the threat of penalties alone is enough to put most people off.
That said the three most common problems are boosting, vandals and optimization companies and this is where the process gets interesting.

In March 2014, TripAdvisor received a review about a hotel from the property’s own IP address. Straight away an email was sent to the reviewer for verification, the user did not respond and the review was not published.
Later, in July, a second review was submitted on the hotel from the same reviewer and hotel IP address and again, an email was sent to verify. This time the reviewer responded.
The TripAdvisor team then put his/her name into publicly used systems such as Facebook to reveal that it was a member of staff.
Next comes vandalism whereby properties seek to increase their own ranking by lowering that of the competition around them.
Finally, there are optimization companies out there which promise to write reviews for a price, say $500 for 10 reviews and TripAdvisor responds in a number of ways when dealing with these companies.
·         It can examine the reviews submitted for a particular property and identify other clients being written for.
·         Where it spots review writing jobs being advertised it applies for them enabling it to write some reviews, identify the property and from the sort of text required, uncover other properties
·         It can act as an optimization firm itself
Medros points out that with when it catches a property working with optimization firm and starts to take down reviews, the property’s ranking slips down.
“More effort and focus should be put around the optimization firms. There are regulations but little enforcement. We don’t mind being held to a standard but others have to be equally pursued.”
One recent example resulted in 150 properties being penalised for working with a single optimization company.
But, why has TripAdvisor decided to open up all of a sudden?
According to Medros there as been internal debate for some and one reason is to simply give the content integrity team credit for its work.
A further reason is to do with the discussions happening around content law and who owns the copyright on review content and therefore has the power to take it down
“We can’t talk about the right to write without all the safeguards we put in place.”


Taken from TNOOZ article written by Linda Fox, deputy editor.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Travels: Event to Check Out

Recently I met with the creator of this event. It sounds fabulous...regardless of what your business is. 
Check it out...

You deserve this! You are a seasoned professional who gives tirelessly to your clients. You are looked upon as an industry leader and generously give your time, energy and heart. You give so much to others and now… it’s time to take care of you. It’s time to celebrate YOU.
Here is a little bit more about the conference and why you should attend:
LAV and FAB Creative Conference
It’s a Lavish Conference for Fabulously Creative People!
Date: Sunday July 12th-Wednesday July 15th, 2015
Location: Solage Calistoga in Napa Valley.
Investment: $2,000  (payment plan available) Includes all food and beverages for 3 days, speakers, transportation to off site events, rejuvenation, education and inspiration, plus a little pampering. 

When you attend the Lav and Fab Creative Conference at Solage Calistoga, in Napa Valley, you will be among an elite group of other industry leaders who are seeking rejuvenation, inspiration and a little pampering to reignite that creative spark. While attending the conference, you will make close connections with others industry leaders from many different fields, gain education relevant to your business and get that much needed hug of appreciation that comes when you invest in yourself and recharge your life battery.
You will leave this powerful conference rejuvenated and inspired. You will have lasting connections with others in your field and you will return home with focused education and a plan forward for your business and for YOU.
We are excited to announce some of the amazing people we have speaking and attending the conference which will include; Desiree Hartsock (Former Bachelorette & Wedding gown designer), Dina Manzo from Real Housewives of New Jersey and the HGTV show Dina’s Party, The Party Goddess herself Marley Majcher, Top Chef contestant Elizabeth Binder, celebrity wedding planner and lifestyle blogger Rachel Hollis from The Chic Site, YouTube sensation and lifestyle blogger Becki from Whippy Cake and other amazing panelist and speakers. 
This is a luxury conference with a 100 limited seats available. Be one of the elite industry leaders who will be attending this conference and get valuable networking mixed with rejuvenation and inspiration in a very intimate setting. We have payment plans available so buy your tickets today and invest in you!

Go to www.Lavandfab.com for the full schedule, speaker lineup and for further details. I hope to see you there. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Travels: Olympic National Park


One of many cedar trees...this one actually had a name and a sign. The Big Cedar...yes it was.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Travels: Parliament in BC


Inside the dome of the British Columbia Parliament building. The building, opened in 1897, showcases some amazing windows, paintings, and art work.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Travels: Victoria, BC


The Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. This grand old hotel still looks good after all these years. Hard to believe it was built in 1908.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Travels: Mt. Shasta




Mt. Shasta peeking though the clouds. With snow on top, it's hard to see where the snow stops and the clouds begin.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Travels: Note Cards


If you are looking for some unique note cards to use while traveling, for thank you cards, or for just keeping in touch...check out this link:

https://dandmcards.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/d-m-cards-spring-photo-contest-winners-announced/

There are amazing photos and wonderful cards...enjoy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Travels: Is Your Purse Ready for the Long Flight?


Whether you carry a purse, backpack, or small carry on bag...take some time to make sure you have what you might need for a long flight.

Any medications you regularly take should be included. You don't need to pack the entire trip's worth, just enough to get you through the flight. One or two extra would be a good idea as well.

A scarf or shawl would be handy on a long flight, too. Lip balm, lotion, contacts solution, toothbrush...whatever you absolutely need to make the flight easier.

Your smart phone, tablet, and camera should be in your carry on and not in your checked luggage. If you have long layovers, don't forget your chargers.

So you don't forget anything important, make a list. Save it on your computer and you won't have to try to remember what you took last time.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Travels: Snacks


Do you travel with a snack in your purse or carry on bag?

In case of flight delays, hurried connections, or a growling stomach...snacks come in handy. Traveling with kids? Pack more than one!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Travels: Weather


I've probably told you this before...but here goes one more time.

Before you leave on vacation, check the weather at your destination. If you're driving, check the weather along the route, including the forecast. This will help you know what to pack, eliminating both over-packing and leaving your much needed jacket or umbrella at home.



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Travels: Driving


Do you know how to drive a stick shift vehicle? If you are traveling in many parts of the world, a stick shift will probably be what you find in your rental vehicle.

If you rent from the US, check with the car rental company to see what kind of car or van you will be renting and what it has for transmission. Better to know ahead of time than to get surprised at the last minute.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Travels: Language


Do you take the time to learn some phrases in the local language when you travel? You should.

Good ones to start with are: Please...Thank You...Yes...No

These few words will go a long ways when traveling.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Travels: Money


We all know we should keep our money safe when traveling. Most of us know to keep our money in more than one place.

How do you do that? Do you divide up your cash between you and your traveling partner? Do you put some in your wallet, which is in a pickpocket proof pants pocket, and the rest in your money belt?

Or, do you hide some in a corner of your backpack?

Wherever you put it, make sure it's safe. And, remember where you stashed it!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Travels; Embassies


US Embassies are located in most countries...probably almost all countries where you will be traveling. We take that for granted and, in most cases, don't really even think about them.

Do you know where the US Embassy is in the country where you are going? Do you assume they are in most large cities? Do you think they are just for major world wide emergencies?

What if you lose your passport? What if there is a military uprising? What if something happens to you or your travel companions that you don't know how to handle?

Before you go, it's a good idea to look at the list of US Embassies and know where the closest one is. It may not be located in the city you are visiting. Having said that, know their phone number, address, and how to get there.

A list of embassies and up-to-date information about countries all over the world can be found at http://www.usembassy.gov/.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Travels: Sewing on the Road


When packing, don't forget to toss in a needle and thread. They don't take up much room and can be invaluable in an emergency.

Sewing on a button, repairing a tear, or attaching a necklace clasp. If you take a large needle and some dental floss, you can even repair your suitcase.