Home_Abroad Times

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					Informing People About Our Places

Home&Abroad Times
Spring 2008

It must be spring! The temperatures are rising, the snow is

melting, and the crocuses are in bloom. In keeping with this prosperous season of renewal, Home&Abroad is growing like gangbusters, too. We recently threw the doors open wide and expanded in size, effectively doubling the number of employees who work here. We’ve added a new CIO, new Destination Content Specialists, and everything in between. In this newsletter we’ll introduce those recent hires, and begin a new series that shines the spotlight on a different member of the H&A team in each issue going forward. Our destination list is also growing like a garden of zucchini, sprouting travel hot spots almost weekly. Since February, we’ve published Budapest, Sydney, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, and Boulder. As always, we snagged only the best City Experts to cultivate these beauties into first rate founts of information and travel tips. We’ll give you the scoop on the amazing folks responsible for developing each destination, including a special interview with our Sydney City Expert, Simon Sellars.. While not immediately apparent, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes as well. Our private label client list, for instance, is growing by leaps and bounds. In this issue, we’ll give you a look at what we’re producing for a few of those clients, and a sneak peek at what we have coming down the pipeline. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Home&Abroad. We invite you to celebrate with us as we enjoy the beautiful spring weather, along with our own growing success! - your editor, Clarissa

Table of Contents
New Hires...........................................2 Spotlight.................................3 In The Media......................................3 New Destinations................................4 Interview: Simon Sellars....................5 Trip Planner Online............................6 

New Hires at H&A
In keeping with this newsletter’s spring theme, the Home&Abroad garden of employees has grown! Eight new folks joined the team in January and February, expanding both the tech team, and content production. Following is an introduction to each new hire. Ray Agostinelli: As our new Vice President of Product Development, Ray spends most of his time ensuring that Home&Abroad remains the web’s best trip planner, and devising ways to extend our tools in innovative new directions. Don’t miss the spotlight interview with him later in this issue. Jamie Barnett: As Chief Information Officer, Jamie brings over twenty years of software engineering experience to Home&Abroad. His professional path has led him to both start-ups, and larger, publicly traded corporations, including Sun Mircosystems, Rational Software, and BEA Systems. Outside of work, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and two kids, and rumor has it, he has a stellar jazz collection. Pete Habuda: Pete is our resident expert in CSS web development and graphic design, bringing with him ten years of experience in the industry. An accomplished rock climber, he’s also our go-to guy when we need sheer rock faces scaled (it could happen!). Jason Boutwell: As our new Senior Engineer/ Technology Evangelist, Jason is also the most southern-fried member of the team. He grew up in Nashville, went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill, but headed to Boulder as soon as he could. In addition to the usual Colorado suspects (hiking, biking, etc.) he’s interested in 3D modeling and animation, mobile computing, Southwestern cuisine, and renovating his 1950’s bungalow. In production, we hired four new Content Destination Specialists, each researching content for the website and working with our City Experts to make sure we get the best data possible for each city we develop. Adi Piersol: An outdoor enthusiast from the great Pacific Northwest, Adi holds a degree in International Affairs and International Business, with an emphasis in Africa, from CU Boulder. She fell in love with travel after spending three and a half months sailing around the world on a Semester at Sea program. Christy Mercer: Christy was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but grew up in Oregon. After earning her degree in Sociology and Spanish, with a minor in Business Administration at the University of Oregon, she headed to Boulder and hit the intern circuit, writing for a number of magazines in the area. Until we snatched her up, that is! David Marucheau: One of those rare and elusive creatures, a Boulder Native, Dave bounced around from Missouri, to Montana, to the UK (and many points in between) before heading back to his old stomping ground, English degree in hand. He enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing outside with his dog, Ruby, as well as working on his novel and poetry manuscripts. Scott Heiser: A recent graduate from CU with a degree in journalism, you may have seen Scott’s name splashed across the Financial Times, The London Daily Telegraph, the New York Times electronic edition, or, all publications his work has appeared in. He claims to have learned to eat mussels like a local after spending a semester abroad in Brussels, Belgium, but since we don’t really know how locals eat mussels in Brussels, we’ll just have to take his word for it.

Welcome new H&Aers!

Spotlight on H&A: Ray Agostinelli, VP of ProdDev
In the next few newsletters, we’re going to get up close and personal with a few of our employees starting with our new Vice President of Product Development, Ray Agostinelli. Before joining the H&A team, Ray was the President of Kaivo Software, a consulting firm focused on open source technologies serving non-profit and commercial enterprise clients. Prior to that, he played executive leadership roles in several other venture-funded startups. He says his move to Home&Abroad was a natural transition. “I’ve had the good fortune to work with some very talented folks over the last several years, real visionaries setting the pace for small teams of top-notch engineers. The Home&Abroad team fits squarely in that mold. Highly innovative and entrepreneurial, but at the same time well-grounded in the day-to-day. It’s a nice mix.” Ray is no stranger to the travel space. About a year ago, with two partners, he started Zephyr Self-Guided Adventures, a travel company providing hiking, biking, and driving tours in Tuscany and Umbria, Italy. “Zephyr books the accommodations, provides daily itineraries, and ports luggage from hotel to hotel every night. The traveler gets to focus on the fun stuff. Plus – this is our Travel 2.0 twist, if you will - we provide an iPod-like portable media player on every tour with short video presentations of attractions along the way.” Now that Home&Abroad is lucky enough to have snared his unique blend of travel and product development expertise, we plan to make the most of it. As the VP of Product Development, Ray will be the hands on the wheel of our strategic development, making sure we’re maximizing our potential for clients, and steering where we go from here. One of his biggest challenges will be developing the new On Demand feature we have in the works. “We’ve been private-labeling our system for enterprise clients for some time. The On Demand system will allow anyone to customize and brand their own Trip Planner and integrate it into their website. Chains and boutique hotels, B&Bs, tour operators, on-line travel services providers, just about anyone in the travel space whose visitors would benefit from our tool, will be able to grab it and go. Oh, and it’ll be free!” When not sitting behind the desk, Ray is an avid reader, and the author of two novels. He’s currently working on a satirical novel set in a dystopian future. He’s also an avid soccer player, and has been to Germany, Italy, and France to watch the World Cup. With that kicking leg on the ready, we’ll be sure to keep on his good side. Welcome, Ray!

H&A In the Media
Home&Abroad continues to gain recognition from travel experts and news outlets. After enjoying stellar reviews from both Travel & Leisure and the Ratings Guy recently, we also received kudos from CNN Travel, and were featured on a Canadian morning news show. CTV, Canada’s largest private broadcaster, recently spotlighted us in a travel segment on their morning news program. CTV travel expert, Loren Christie, called H&A “a fantastic website.” We couldn’t agree more. 

 New Cities and More on the Way!
Our destination list is on the move! In February we added Sydney and Budapest, and this month saw the additions of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill and our own beloved city of Boulder. This brings us up to 99 great destinations full of tips and all sorts of juicy info for avid travelers--and we’re busily working away to bring you more travel hot spots, even as I type this. town Durham the following year. She is currently based in San Francisco, but continues to travel to and write about North Carolina every chance she gets. “I think the Triangle is one of the most overlooked urban areas in the country,” she said, “But that’s okay by me. It allows us to keep that small town charm with all the benefits of an urban setting.”

As always, we found the best Sydney was built with the in their field to give us the expertise of another Lonely down and dirty on each city. Planet author, Simon Sellars. Andrew Princz, our Budapest We won’t give too much away City Expert, is the author of Boulder Creek here, as we’ve included a full Frommer’s travel guide Buinterview with him in this isdapest & the Best of Hungary. sue, but suffice it to say, we He’s has also been published in numerous international publications including CNN couldn’t have done it without him.. Traveller and the Wall Street Journal, and is editor and Unlike every other destination on our site list, Boulder publisher of the travel site As a hub for global cultural knowledge, his was developed in house. As Home&Abroad is headventure is an innovative site bringing together tourism, quartered in downtown Boulder, we figured, who better the arts, and first-rate travel journalism from around to give you the inside scoop than our own travel-savvy staff? Content Coordinators Clarissa Cutrell and Caitthe world. lin Donnell led “I consider travelling the globe the effort, with Duke Photo Editor, an invaluable privilege,” said Chapel, Aidan Grey, Princz. “It is only through seeing the world through the eyes in charge of Durham of the many cultures of the photography, but everyone world that one is able to gain a truly macro-perspective of the in the office world. In the challenging age pitched in with Andrew Prinz that we live in, travel, tourism, research, tips, and cultural awareness are essential components, which itineraries, and information will lead to a productive coexistence among peoples.” that only insiders can offer. Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill was developed with the expert guidance of Lonely Planet author Alex Leviton. After visiting and falling in love with the area in Take a moment and explore these new destinations, and tell us what you think!  2002, she bought a tobacco warehouse loft in down-

Aussie Odyssey:

An Interview with Simon Sellars, Sydney CE
The recent release of Sydney, our first Australian destination and a favorite of many H&A staff, was a cause for celebration in the back room. Australia, besides being a fascinating travel destination, is home to a nation of rugged, savvy travelers, a place where a year or two of roughing it around the world is considered practically a right of passage. We wanted to do Australia right, and we couldn’t have had a better City Expert than Simon Sellars, a seasoned writer and traveler and author of Lonely Planet guides to Australia, Japan, Micronesia, the Netherlands... and, well, the list goes on. We managed to get Simon in one place for long enough to ask him a few questions about his travels and his writing. How did you first get the travel bug? When my family took the boat over to Australia from England, where I was born. I was only three-and-a-half at the time but the experience stayed with me, and to this day I have vague memories of the trip. What are some of your most memorable travel experiences? Japan, without a doubt. It really is like another planet, especially Tokyo. Nothing you’ve seen or read can prepare you for that city. Micronesia was memorable, given that it is so remote and untouristed. And of course the infamous micronation of Sealand, a ‘country’ that is really an old WWII gun platform in the North Sea, claimed by pirate-radio operators in the 1960s and existing in paralegal limbo ever since. In addition to travel writing, you also write on a broad range of cultural issues. One of your specialties is the dystopian author JG Ballard, whom you have interviewed. I have to ask: what on earth is JG Ballard like in person? He’s a very cultured, very charming English gentleman, full of old-school manners. A bit like William Burroughs, in that the outward, conservative manner shields a mind that knows no bounds. What do you think are the most significant current trends in world tourism and travel? ‘Dark tourism’, without a doubt. When there’s nowhere left to visit, given that the tourism industry is now so complete and so colonising, the next logical step is to visit places where men and women once feared to tread. If you can sell a nightmare like Auschwitz for example to a jaded tourist then you’re ahead of the game. What is your idea of a perfect day in Sydney? Visiting the backstreet pubs in Newtown, a grungy little inner-city suburb with a lot of character. Can you remember the most memorable meal in all your travels? Where was it, who were you with, and what did you eat? Eating wanko-soba in a city called Morioka in northern Japan. Wankosoba is an ancient ritual in which you must eat as many bowls of soba noodle as you can, while battling the waitresses who constantly try to refill your bowl. There’s one main rule: if you’ve had enough, you have to put a lid on your bowl to signal the end. If the waitress refills your bowl before you can do that, you have to eat it. And these ladies are quick. I ate around 30; the record is over 500. How did you get started as a travel writer? I simply applied to Lonely Planet, who asked me to write a sample chapter, which they liked. What places would you like to go that you haven’t been? The moon and mars. If a traveler to Sydney was to bring one thing with them on their trip, what would it be? Attitude (and a lot of cash). 

Trip Planner... On a Website Near You
Even if you don’t know Home&Abroad from Adam, if you’ve ever been to the Hawaiian Air website, are a member of the Upromise online community, or have checked out the Rocky Mountain PBS site, chances are, you’ve seen our product. In January of last year, Home&Abroad’s Trip Planner debuted on the Hawaiian Air website—our first private label client. Using the airline’s colors and design specifications, we tailored the application and content to fit their needs exactly. Since then, we’ve completed similar projects for a number of companies, including World Span, Forest Travel, Upromise, Rocky Mountain PBS, and Hotel Sax in Chicago. The look of each is profoundly different from the others, blending into the host website like a very talented (and useful) chameleon. In addition to a trip planning powerhouse, we offer each client monthly Google Analytics reports to gauge how well our product is serving its needs. More than 70% of travelers experience frustration during the process of planning a vacation, so companies that provide a one-to-one personalized trip planning capability not only reinforce their brand, they also deepen customer loyalty, and generate higher revenues. The numbers we are seeing on Google Analystics’ reports reinforce this wisdom as each of our clients has experienced a steady increase in client engagement. For example, in February, one client saw a 51% increase in the overall number of page views, a 135% increase in average page views per visit, and a 125% increase in the average amount of time each user spent on the website. We have an impressive list of clients already, but more are in the works! Keep an eye on the websites for Cheap Tickets Gold, Elite Excursions, and Traveler’s Advantage—you may soon see a very familiar trip planning engine making an appearance on each.

And there we are. See you next time! - the H&A team

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