Saturday, August 1, 2009

Internet is part of every day life - even on vacation

I was visiting lovely Paris again with my family just a week after we brought home Rising Star of the Year award. I tried to avoid Internet during my vacation as much as I could but found it quite impossible. Normally I'm a heavy heavy user and you could say I'm living in/with Internet. Here's a short story how web services helped us before and during our trip.

Everything started because of this newsletter of Blue 1. There was very tempting offer: only 94 euros (adult price) to Paris. SAS knows that I clicked the link in newsletter and actually converted. They have tags in newsletter's link:,1e4be55,1e929d0 - where my personal (customer?) ID for a newsletter or web analytics sytems is perhaps something like:


The previous URL is redirected to:

you can easily find out tags in this URL for Google Analytics:
  • source = Newsletter26-09
  • medium = email
  • campaign = FI26-09_1
Ok, so I booked flights for us and SAS knows how their campaign worked out. This is how it should be measured, especially the outcomes. That means total revenue and return on investment! 24 hours before our departure from Helsinki I received a SMS and simply by replying "YES", check-in for the flight was completed. Very nice, I really like this SMS check-in system they have.

Then I looked for a hotel. I clicked another link in a newsletter which included same kind of code:,1e4be55,1e929f7

It seems that last two letters contain the link information, so SAS knows exactly which newsletter links I clicked. I found Park and Suites Paris Grande Bibliothéque but this time I didn't converted through booking system of Blue 1 because I found better price through booking system associated to hotel. When I looked at source code of booking service I found a 3rd party's tracking code in it. So they knew exactly where I came from and how my reservation process went.

During and after the hotel reservation I checked from Google Maps where the hotel was. I wanted also to check little bit street view and with couple of clicks I knew that there was metro station, a store and couple of restaurants near by. When we finally got there it was easy to find when you have seen the place beforehand.

Wireless Internet access wasn't a requirement but afterwards I was happy that it included to room price. I got a metro map/brochure from Charles de Gaulle airport and found a quick response codes in couple ads (e.g. Cinéaqua's in the photo below).

If you want to know more about QR codes, you can read my guest post from Anyway, I did some research in the evening when kids were sleeping. I browsed web with my mobile phone and got more information about places where we visited next day. It was usefull to know things about Eiffel tower and Euro Disney. I couldn't find a tracking code from Eiffel tower website but Euro Disney has an HBX (=Omniture) code in place.

It would have been possible to buy tickets online to Disneyland. Instead, we bought vouchers from our hotel. With vouchers Euro Disney knows which hotels are converting customers and income to them. This is really simple way to track customers which don't convert online. I think they should bring up these vouchers more in their website. Though, they do have offers and clear call-to-actions in place.

After long day in Disneyland, we wanted some pizza when we came back to hotel. I did a mobile Google search with "pizza Rue de Tolbiac" (name of the street where our hotel located). With three clicks I saw that there was Pizza Hut just couple hundred meters from our hotel. Next evening we got a hint and two drink tickets to restaurant Buffalo from reception. We couldn't find it with first but again, Google search with "buffalo restaurant paris" gave us local business and map as a result. Third restaurant was the one we were looking for and very quickly we got beef! : )

One day I had really lousy map with me. We had to find closest metro stations several times during that day. Luckily I have a really good mobile phone. With help of GPS those metro stations were easy to find. Some years ago I used to send postcards to family and friends. Now I took photos with my phone, emailed them to Twitpic which shared picture links and comments to Twitter and Facebook. My contacts got greetings from Paris right away as they happened. No more expensive snail mail and traditional post cards...although I know that some like them too.

What can I say...Internet is so helpfull in every day life and avoiding it was kind of pointless. Different kind of web or mobile services are helping travellers a lot and companies should think cross-channel customer experiences and measurement.

By the way, I received a newsletter with an offer from our hotel while we were still staying there...