Being a longtime listener and viewer of the Amateur Traveler podcasts I jumped at the first opportunity of speaking with Chris Christensen about travel and his perspectives of things that enable and supplement our travel experiences.
Chris of course is the host of the Amateur Traveler, an extremely popular online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. The Amateur Traveler audio show started in 2005 and has averaged 1 million downloads over the last 3 years. Chris also is one of the 3 hosts of the award winning This Week in Travel podcast. Clearly the only thing “amateur” about it all is the name of the show itself.
Chris is a regular speaker at various industry events as well, and was recently involved in couple of sessions at TBEX 2013. TBEX is where world’s most prominent travel bloggers, writers and new media content creators gather to talk all things travel.
Apart from travel, I share with Chris another huge interest, that of podcasts. I like to describe myself as a podcast junkie and by his own admission Chris subscribes to over 70 podcasts himself. The idea of “The Amateur Travel” was germinated through his obsession with podcasts.
Excerpts from our chat:
- I read that your love affair with traveling started way back in your childhood through your parents. Those road trips as a kid taught you a lot. That fascination has clearly trickled down quite well. I was curious to know if you’re a full time traveler now?
Chris – Actually I have a day job, I only worked as a full-time blogger for 8 months in 2010. While I did quit my day job last week, I plan to support myself with software development, not blogging.
- With all the high quality work you produce regularly, it’s hard to believe this is not your full-time job. What do you think about flying? Any recent and notable flight experience?
Chris – I love flying. You get to soar through the air like a bird. I don’t see how anyone can tire of that. I had a chance to fly on one of the first Boeing Dreamliner 787s out of San Jose to Tokyo recently as a guest of ANA. Great plane to a great destination. (Read his report here)
- Airports are an integral part of flying. Which one do you prefer?
Chris – I like San Francisco, which is my usual airport. Modern, spacious and my gateway to the world.
- And which city has impressed you most while traveling? Any outstanding experience you would like to recall?
Chris – I loved Istanbul, Tanzania and Egypt. Egypt and Istanbul for the history, and Tanzania for both the wildlife and its people.
If I had to pick my very favorite day traveling it would probably be visiting the Ngorongoro Crater on a safari in Tanzania. Being three feet away from a lioness (fortunately with a good strong car window in between us) when she growled was outstanding all right.
- How would you like to improve the current crop of airports? What one addition (except Wi-Fi) can be most helpful for travelers in your view?
Chris – Lots and lots more places to plug in a laptop.
- Traveling is not your full time day job but you still manage to balance your passion with profession pretty well. What advise can you give other aspiring travelers reading this?
Chris – Don’t quit your day job might be an odd advise to come from me, so let’s say at least don’t over estimate how much money you can make as a blogger until you are making money as a blogger. It can take a while to build up an audience and most full time bloggers are either a second income or live someplace cheap.
- Wise words. Tell us your deep dark secrets of pre-travel research.
Chris – We look up hotels on TripAdvisor. I like visual guidebooks like the Eyewitness Guides and often where I go these days is influenced by episode of Amateur Traveler where someone has come on the show and told me of some amazing place.
- And finally Chris, give us your 3 must follow twitter accounts.
Chris – My passion for travel predates social media by decades but I do like keeping in touch with social media. Some of my favorite twitter accounts to follow are:
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- GlobeTrotters on Twitter – an Introduction (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Gary Leff (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Johnny Jet (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Ben Schlappig (One Mile at a Time) (vishal1mehra.com)
As over 150 million Indians surf the interwebs (yes, that’s what the cool kids call it these days), Indian marketers are losing their sleep to catch them young, in their mid-life crisis or even after hanging up their boots. The challenge is immense. Out of the $5 billion Indian advertising industry, $900 million go to digital marketing. The share of digital is poised to grow larger every year & slated to touch 30% of the total market by 2015.
As marketers we need to keep a track on the consumer’s pulse and the next big idea to engage them. Keeping that in mind & that we have 11 months left to make those ideas work for us, here are 5 trends, which will go massive in 2013
1) Native Advertising
“Once you go Native, you don’t go Interruptive” – ANON
Over the past 10 years, publishers have continued to monetize their sites with banners and pre-roll ads, and advertisers have continued to pump billions into these formats, in spite of tanking performance & universal contempt. While click-through rates on display ads started out at around 9% in 2000, they now hover around 0.2% – which effectively means 99.8% of banner ads go straight to the trashcan.
Native advertising like a Promoted Tweet or a Sponsored story in Facebook allows brands to promote their content into the experience of the site or other mediums, in a non-interruptive & integrated manner. We are going to hear a lot about Native this year & it will affect the way we create content, effectively & hopefully killing advertising that sucks.
Native advertising is the irrefutable future.
2) Social TV
2013 is the year when Social TV will go mainstream, ending the era of sitting passively on big boy recliners and watching television.
Social TV’s secret sauce is mixing humanity’s love for Television and its enchantment with social media. NEWS, Sports and Music channels have been on the wagon for a while but the turning point for the industry will be getting GEC’s onboard, inviting viewers to interact and decide their own storytelling experience.
NDTV’s second screen effort in its mobile app and Airtel’s Shazam campaign are couple of recent examples from the Indian market, but the biggest of them all comes in April 2013, when American network SyFy launches Defiance as a cross-platform story, on TV and as a MMO game.
What makes the industry even more exciting is the imminent launch of Twitter TV ratings with Nielsen this summer and the prospect of Social TV growing to a multi billion-dollar industry by 2020.
Today’s consumer is both everywhere and nowhere and his/her attention is divided between multiple screens & platforms on different screens. Marketers like to speak about TV, Desktop & Mobile as 3 screens, adding Tablet into the mix as the 4th screen will be a wise move to reach those fragmented souls who are always on the target list as the “elusive on-the-go customer”.
More consumers are watching more and more content, but that viewing is dispersed across different platforms, starting with TV, Online Streaming and VOD to Podcast. Although some western markets are going through the cord cutting phenomena, Indian market is going through what I like to call as “Cord extension” phase, where consumers are adding broadband, mobile, DTH, DVR and IPTV connections over their existing Cable TV.
The mantra of Content everywhere and anywhere on any device & any screen has played its bit role in fragmentation but changing consumption lifestyles has made it necessary to shift both strategy and focus for marketers that want to keep up with their audiences.
Thus 2013 should see some brave moves by content owners worldwide, some even unthinkable few years back, to keep their audience with them.
4) Content Marketing
Content Marketing has already attained huge prominence among marketers worldwide but 2013 will see consumers seeking out content themselves, making it increasingly vital to the purchase cycle as well. Brands & agencies are responding with increased capabilities, as they look for opportunities to get involved and engaged with consumers at different levels, to provide content that is relevant and share worthy.
2013 will also witness marketers combining content with context to drive commerce.
Brands such as Red Bull with the Stratos Freefall initiative and McDonald’s Canada with Our Food, Your Questions campaign have led the charge globally while Tata Nano’s Social road trip has made a splash in the Indian market.
5) Smart Data
Originally this was supposed to be titled as Big Data, and then came along an email by Rachel Gilley from our UK office, explaining how 1 of our clients thought data needs to be actionable and Smart data attained it’s place in the list. Every consumer touch point is a valuable piece of data & taking it together is possibly an antidote to fragmentation, discussed earlier in this post.
Big Data is complex to say the least and possibly the greatest challenge marketers face all over the world today. Companies collect information from their customers in structured or unstructured format, which are later put through various tools to understand consumers better. Global brands like Netflix, Amazon and Apple use it to serve better recommendations to their customers, whereas most of major Indian Retailers like Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle use transaction data to re-design store layouts & inventory management.
Interestingly Shoppers Stop, for instance, found that very often when middle-aged ladies shopped for Indian clothing, the other item on their list was men’s innerwear.
The much-improved version of Big Data is Smart Data, Data that can be put instantly to use by brands to improve marketing, business decisions and customer engagement practices.
This post has also appeared on imediaconnection India