Flutterby™! : Tourism, Google, and the long tail

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Tourism, Google, and the long tail

2005-04-10 21:45:24.747314+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

In planning for the August Alaska trip I did a Google search for "Seattle airport hotels". The first page of results were all various aggregators and travel agents. I clicked on AirportHotelSearch.com's Seattle Airport Hotels, it gave me a $54 overnight near the airport, claiming that it had to charge a $5 processing fee to cover their costs. I thought "no worries", entered my data, and then got a cryptic error message.

So I tracked down the actual hotel page, which didn't appear anywhere on those first few pages of search results, discovered that, in fact, the deep discounts promised were the regular fare, and the hotel page gave me a reasonable error message about why my reservation didn't go through.

This is clearly a place where the page ranking mechanisms of the major search engines are failing. If I enter "hotel" or "B&B" and the city I'm interested in, it's extremely hard to pick through all of the people who want to obfuscate my transaction and take their $5 here or there in exchange for... well... the fact that they can insert themselves into a search engine.

So we need a new ranking system. And, as Jerry Halstead's query about cool things to do in the Bay Area reveals, we also need better ways to discover what's available locally. I'm not sure where to go with this, and I've sworn off developing new web apps for a while, but it sure seems like something that takes advantage of weblogs and provides regional information could be a starter...

[ related topics: Web development Bay Area Travel Seattle Dan & Charlene's 2005 Alaska Trip ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-04-11 12:17:02.306152+00 by: DaveP

I've found the same thing. I tried maintaining a cool things to do around my neighborhood and a list of places to stay within walking distance, but both pages are swamped by the expedia-like commercial pages that seem to creep up in the search-engine rankings.

I keep thinking that a wikipedia-like local service would be cool, but every time I think about it, I also think of the maintenance headache that's involved in trying to keep even slightly current. And if you open the doors wide, you get hammered by the slashdot effect and have to spend all your time combatting disinformation.

I'd like to help make a solution to the problem, but haven't been smart enough to figure out how to "fix" the problem without turning maintenance into a full-time unpaid job.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-04-12 21:25:05.5572+00 by: baylink

So... why hotlink Google, Dan? ;-)