World Travel Market and living on my own.

Three weeks have passed at my latest placement, and for the next two I will be without my lovely girlfriend; for the first time alone in a very long time.

Sometimes I stop to think, if time was speeding up, how will I know? It’s impossible to stand aside and observe it; but I really feel like my life is just sweeping in and out, uncontrollably accelerating. Like a table cloth pulled out from under a laid out table, will everything remaining unchanged, or will I manage to break a few cups and saucers along the way?

Last week I was invited to go to the World Travel Market, one of the largest travel conventions in Europe. It was a spectacle of Globalisation and cultures blending into one another. In two days I did a tour of our planet, continent by continent; cuisine, booze and freebies were just part of the fun. I also attended two presentations, both in response to an industry-wide consensus that ‘social media’, ‘SEO’ and ‘mobile’ are no longer just buzz words. They are the new source of competitive advantage that will pay dividends to the early movers, and leave those that wait too long ruing their decision to do so.

I cam home to an empty house, and have spent the whole weekend out and about. A bar crawl, night in a wonderful city centre hotel (as part of my Expotel FAM trip – more about this in my next blog post), a poker night, shopping, dinner at a friends place… I somehow tried to avoid being home all weekend. Despite my efforts, here I am on a Sunday night, blogging in the most wonderful silence I have experience in a long while. Despite my initial aversion to being alone, I now think the next two weeks will be a great opportunity to think about my dissertation, get back into an exercise routine and work my ass off on both work and personal projects.

Personal development seems to always be, unfortunately, that one thing we only do if we have the spare time for it:

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” Wayne Dyer

The Perfect Online Business

For a long time I thought to myself, when I start my own business tomorrow, is there a comprehensive list or “how-to” guides that cover EVERYTHING I would need to set up to make my online business, well, perfect? A list I can just work my way through, ticking all the boxes so I can focus my energy on our competitive advantage and NOT getting the traffic (unless our CA is the way in which we get traffic, but that’s for another discussion).

But clearly each business is different; from a range of online business models to a multitude of industries. I suppose even one business using the same business model in the same industry as another would have a different online marketing plan from one that is in another country or of a different size.

Having a chat with David Sutton last night, he was adamant that all an entrepreneur should be doing is getting new business. This made me think, all the rest needs to be systems, automation and staff (even taking care of old clients).

So I have decided to spend some time (probably quite a bit of time actually) writing up what I believe to be the golden rules that all online start-ups should follow; one page essential lists of “must-do’s” for:

  • SEO
  • Social Media and Blogging
  • PPC
  • E-mail
  • Usability and Experience on the site
  • Tracking, Analytics and Monitoring
  • Linking
  • Mobile
  • Conversion
  • Getting paid and invoicing – the Financials
  • Other tools worth considering

Regardless if we end up out-sourcing some of these, buying software or systems that do it for us, or doing it in-house, I think the key to success online (that’s if you have the right product to begin with) is SYNERGY. Do everything listed above and the traffic you get will be greater than the sum of all the traffic each tool would bring in if used on its own, or the rule of:

1+1=3

The 10 Golden Lists will be updated here.

Exceptional Expotel Expectations

New placement, new challenges.

If I had to compare my first two placement companies, the only similarity they share is that they are both agencies – but very different agencies at that.

Expotel is the largest Hotel Booking Agency in the UK. They handle business travel solutions for clients including the government and Virgin Media. After a week I knew that this was the pefect time to be here; the company was ready to embrace a range of changes to the way they do business. There is a real buzz in the small meeting room on a Monday afternoon as I strategically plant words like “social media”, “SEO”, “pay-per-click” and the occassional “AWESOME” into the conversation.

I’m excited.

Looking back I realise that perhaps I didn’t have the maturity or courage to implement some of my ideas at LOVE but I think I’ll do better this time round.

And then there’s all the benefits. Business trips to London, attending the World Travel Market for two days next week, an inter-agency pub quiz and its only week 2. Then there are those awesome “familiarity trips” where hotels invite us to stay over for free (already booked myself for three).

However, as was the case with Love, the most important benefits of all are the lessons, sometime daily, I take away which are relevant to starting and running your own business. I’m taking the “How to’s” but also the “How not to’s” and hopefully by the end of the Manchester Masters, I will be 4 years more ready to be an entrepreneur, from one year’s experience. Expotel for another 10 weeks… Dabs.com next.