Is the booking.com afilliate program any good?

Review of the booking.com Affiliate Partner Program

Booking.com affilate review

 

When internet first because widely used, which was around the year 2000, most hotels did not have their own website and for most people the only way to book a hotel was to go to a travel agent. The travel agents would look up the hotel information on special databases such as “sabre” and another one which a I can’t remember and make the booking for you in their office.  I remember going to Thomas Cook travel agent in the 80s and this was the modus operandi. After spending 20 minutes with a “nice man” you would leave the Thomas Cook office clutching your “Traveller’s Cheques” and details of your hotel bookings along with your tickets for a “Charter Flight” which was supposedly a cheap option, this would cost about 10 times what it would cost today (2017).  Here I must admit to lying, until 1991 I never stayed in a hotel, I would sleep in fields or under motorway bridges if I was  hitch-hiking.    Booking.com started in 1996 but it took them until about 2005 to become a massive worldwide company. They now have over  1 million properties worldwide and they are now a household name synonymous with hotel bookings. The same as Facebook or  their predecessor Friends United are associated with social media.

Since 1998 I have been the webmaster of some reasonably well visited travel websites. To try to monetize these sites I signed up to the booking.com affiliate program, this was in 2007.

In order to get commission from a booking.com link it is necessary for the web surfer (us) to click on a link and then  go  immediately to book a hotel or in other words the web surfer has to book a hotel in the same session.  The cookie expires as soon as the user closes the browser.

The next paragraph is boring unless you have a travel website. It basically says that all newspapers or travel websites would have to close down if they relied for their income on the booking.com affiliate system.

Since 2007 I have sent booking.com 3039 clicks. This has resulted in 73 bookings which has earned 668 euros.  That is 21 euro cents per click. Nowadays 21 cents per click is not too bad. The  click-through rate is about 1 click per 500 impressions. So that means that the earning per 1000 impressions is about 10 cents.  That would mean that a page with 1 million views per day could earn  around 100 euros per day. My average google Adsense earnings are around 160 cents per 1000 views so the booking.com is 16 times less effective than Adsense. It may well be better to just put google Adsense ads on relevant content rather than using the booking.com affiliate system.  On the Wikipedia page is says that booking dot-com spent around $40 million on adwords in 2011. (Who gave Wikimedia that statistic?)  By the way anyone who uses adwords is not allowed to publicly discuss this?

On the affiliate site it makes it look like the percentage comission is 25%. It is actually 2.2%. I just booked a hotel for a family for 1 night. The cost of the one night was 180 euros.  Booking.com themselves charge hotels 15%.

I recently tried their new responsive search box widget. The results are disappointing. I gave the search box 11646 impressions which resulted in 22 clicks, zero bookings and zero income.  I eventually deleted search box widget after 32 000 impressions with zero income. the See image below.

Conclusion
It would be much more lucrative to come to arrangements directly with  hotels to get a commission directly. Booking.com charge the hotels 15%, they give you 25% of that which is actually 3.75% comision.  However, if you don’t want the hassle of dealing directly with hotels it may earn you a very small residual income. If the income was better I would give them more prominence.

Hotels themselves have let themselves be ruled by booking.com. In one way you can consider this a good thing. Beforehand most hotels had a chaotic booking system  based on school exercise books with pencil ruled lines which contained all the booking information of their bookings and availability.  Booking.com offered a free system to coordinate all the bookings, prices and availability and in some ways provided a more level playing field. This has also been very attractive to the consumer. The advent of feedback pioneered by “Trip Advisor” has resulted in a system which favours the “guest”.

However, in my opinion the story is not yet over. Hotels etc do not really need a third-party such as booking.com to control them.

Someone will eventually offer a centralised source of information, prices and availability about hotels which hotels can buy into. The rate of commission will be much less than 15%.  Maybe there will be a small cut for travel websites which is better than  10 cents per 1000 views but until that moment the booking.com partner affiliate system is a “get rich very slowly scheme.

Booking.com Partner Program

Booking.com Partner Program

 

 

Fun Facts about Dogs

Shep the dog

Shep our dog.

Dogs evolved from an extinct wolf-like creature in Eurasia 40,000 years ago. Male dogs are called dogs, female dogs are called bitches and young dogs are called puppys. Some studies believe that dogs started to be domesticated 33,000 years ago. Dogs belong to a biological family called the Canidae, a member of this family is called a canid. This is the origin of the adjective “canine” which means “of or like a dog, relating to or characteristic of dogs”.

Dogs have a very good sense of smell. The part of a dogs brain that analyses smell is 40 times larger than a human’s and they can smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than us. About one-third of a dog’s brain is dedicated to smell. The breed of dog with the best sense of smell is the bloodhound. A dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar if you added it to an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of water. Dogs can be trained to detect cancer in humans. Some dogs can tell if a human is about to have an epileptic fit. About 12 percent of the air that a dog breathes goes into a special area in the back of the nose that is dedicated to smelling. A dog can both sniff and breathe at the same time. Dogs know from which nostril a smell has entered. Dogs can use their sense of smell to gauge our emotions, they can smell fear, anxiety, even sadness this is due to the fact that they can smell hormones such as adrenaline. Police dogs can smell human bodies even when they are buried up to 3 metres in the ground.

Watercolors of Dogs

These watercolors  of dogs were painted by Helen. She is a talented artist and will paint dogs if you send her a photo.  see her website here

Dogs see in colors of various shades of blue and yellow. If you want a dog to see things in a green background the best colour is blue. Humans generally see better than dogs but dogs see much better when there is low-light. Dogs cannot distinguish between red and green and these colours would appear as shades of grey to a dog.

Dogs like to chew bones but cooked bones and bones that can splinter such as cooked chicken bones should not be given to dogs. When dogs were evolving , bone marrow could sometimes form an important part of their diet. Dogs often bury bones so that they can dig them up at some moment in the future when they are hungry.

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs because it contains theobromine. A Labrador (around 30kg bodyweight) would probably die if it consumed more than ½kg of dark chocolate.

Dogs have a ligament in the neck which allows them to conserve energy while running long distances following scent trails with their nose to the ground. Many other species have a similar ligament and it is called a Paddywhack.

Although dogs have some sweat glands in their feet, their principal way of losing heat when they are too hot is by panting. When dogs have been doing a lot of exercise, they pant, it is not because they are out of breath like a human would be. Dogs have developed the method of losing heat by panting because sweating would not be very efficient due to all the fur. The normal body temperature of a dog is 38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius whereas human normal body temperature 37 degrees Celsius.

Female dogs can get pregnant when their bodies undergo changes which make them receptive to male dogs. This is called being on heat or in estrus. Male dogs know the female is on heat due to a smell emitted from the female dog. If the female is receptive, she will stand still and hold her tail to the side, a stance referred to as “flagging”. Most dogs go on heat every 6 months and estrus lasts between 7 and 18 days. When dogs copulate it is very normal for them to get stuck together and it may last for up to 45 minutes. Most vets recommend that bitches don’t get pregnant until the third estrus. Pregnancy can be prevented by spaying the female dog, this involves removing both the ovaries and the uterus. Dogs don’t go into the menopause and will continue to go on heat indefinitely unless they are spayed. Small and medium-sized dogs mostly have a gestation period of fifty to sixty days while larger breeds average sixty to sixty-five days. Dogs normally have between one to sixteen or even more puppies. It is not possible to know how many puppies a bitch will have just by looking at the pregnant bitch, the appearance can be very deceptive. Puppies are born deaf and cannot hear until they are about 21 days old. The young are born small, blind and helpless and require a long period of parental care.

 

Most dogs have 42 teeth. Corgi is Welsh for “dwarf dog.” Greyhounds can reach a speed of up to 45 miles per hour. Male dogs have a bone in their penis. The most popular bree of domestic dog in the US and the UK is the Labrador Retriever. The border collie or sheep dog is often considered to be the most intelligent breed of dog some of them have been trained to recognise the words for up to 1,000 objects and retrieved them by verbal command. Dogs can discriminate the emotional expressions of human faces.The largest breed of dog is the Irish Wolfhound. Dogs do not have an appendix. Dogs are all direct descendants of wolves. Wolves and dogs can mate to produce fertile offspring. A dog’s heart beats up to 120 times per minute, or 50% faster than the average human heartbeat of 80 times per minute.

 

Five Things to Do in Valencia

Valencia

Valencia

Valencia is one of the largest cities in Spain, but to me, it was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of tourist season in Barcelona. Valencia is just a 5 hour bus ride from Barcelona. My bus ticket cost approximately 30 euros, but only because I bought the ticket at the bus station in Barcelona. Note: The Alsa website only accepts Spanish credit cards. However, I was informed after the fact, that they do accept PayPal.

Five Things to Do in Valencia:

Bike through the Jardines de Turia to the Beach

The Jardines de Turia are 9 kilometers of old river bed that were transformed into a beautiful, public park. The park runs through the center of Valencia and its designated bicycle lanes make for a smooth, scenic ride through the city. The end of the park is only a short distance to the sandy, sprawling beaches of Valencia.

Bicycles are by far the best mode of transportation in Valencia and can be rented for as little as 9 euros per day. Hostels usually have deals for bike rentals as well, I rented a bike for 10 euros for two days through Feetup Hostels The Red Nest and Passion Bikes.

Visit La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias

La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias is must-see cultural center for art and science lovers. La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias is home to Europe’s largest aquarium, L’Oceanografic, Palau de les Arts, L’Hemisferic and the Museu de Les Ciencies Principe Felipe. The center is conveniently located at the southeastern end of the Jardines de Turia and is easily accessed by bike or public transport. I visited the Museu de les Ciencies during Pixar’s 25th anniversary exhibit. It cost 8 euros for a ticket to the exhibit, which included entry to the museum.

Get wild in Bioparc Valencia

The Bioparc, unlike most zoos, has no fences separating the animals from visitors. Instead the zoo utilizes natural barriers, such as boulders and foliage to give visitors the illusion of being in the animal’s environment. This is the one thing I regret not doing in Valencia, as many people told me it was an amazing experience.

Eat Paella Valenciana

Valencia is where the Spanish rice dish, paella, originated. Traditional Paella Valenciana recipes contain rabbit and chicken. Most restaurants throughout Valencia serve paella, however I was told by a local that the dish is generally only served at lunchtime. Click here for more info about Paella

Visit the Torres de Serranos

Built at the end of the 14th century, the Torres de Serranos is one of the 12 gates found along the old medieval city wall of Valencia. Originally built as a defense mechanism, the tower later housed prisoners. The Torres de Serranos is one of the largest Gothic city gates in Europe. On Sundays entry to the Torres de Serranos is free.

Links:
Wikipedia entry on Valencia

Survival Spanish for travellers

Learn Spanish in Valencia

Basic facts about the Schengen.

So you’re planning an extended trip to Europe, great! You most likely have already mapped out the cities you’d like to visit, sought out friends for advice and possibly went ahead and downloaded the best apps for travel… but have you thought about a visa?

It is always a good idea to research a country’s specific entry requirements before planning a trip abroad. For non-EU citizens planning to backpack or travel throughout Europe for more than 3 months, in addition to having a valid passport, you will need to familiarize yourself with the Schengen Area Agreement.

What is the Schengen Area Agreement? It is a border agreement between 26 European countries to allow EU citizens to travel and settle freely within the area. Non-EU citizens, with the proper documentation, are also permitted to travel freely within the Schengen area, but are limited to 90 days out of an 180 day period.

Schengen countries include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein.

 

You may be asking yourself, but what if I want to travel throughout Europe for longer than 90 days?

Traveling for more than 90 days throughout Europe is possible, if you plan accordingly. You can split up time between the Schengen area and non-Schengen countries. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom are all part of the EU, but are non-Schengen countries.

For example, you can spend 45 days in the Schengen area, then fly to say, the United Kingdom, and spend however many days the UK tourist visa will allow, then re-enter the Schengen area for your remaining 45 days.

Again, it is best to research country specific entry requirements before considering travel to the United Kingdom, or another non-Schengen country, as you may be asked for additional documentation.

For more information about the Schengen area visit:

The European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs website.

SchengenVisaInfo.com

 

 

What is wrong with yummy?

Yummy ice cream

Justine Linda and Amanda enjoying a yummy ice cream

Over the last few years I have steadily developed a dislike for the word yummy. Just reading the word or hearing it uttered causes a mild distress. This may be similar to prudes or boring old farts who balk at the use of the ‘F’ word or are horrified at the ‘C’ word. How is it possible to dislike a word? What has caused this apparently irrational phobia? Over the last few days I have done some research into the word “yummy” in an attempt understand my condition.

The first line of enquiry centers around my dislike of infantile regression. That is, adults speaking like children, for example “the likkle doggie did a whoopsie in the housy”. There are other examples of child speak that I shy away from for example I have never liked the word pooh I have always preferred to say “shit” although for some reason the American word “poop” is OK. I have a “cock” not a “willy” a stomach not a “tummy” and a mom not a mommy. However, who says that the word yummy is a child’s word? Some online dictionaries say that the word “yummy” is onomatopoeic ie, a word that is an imitation of an actual sound, for example cuckoo, meow, honk, ping or boom. But who makes the sound of “yum” when they are eating? Unless you hadn’t eaten in three weeks and then fell into a vat of melted chocolate nobody would make a sound anywhere near the “yum” sound. Apart from the fact that “yummy” sounds a bit childish, the only strong link between the word yummy and children is the rhyme “yum-yum pigs bum apple pie and chewing gum”.

So, what is the etymology of the word yummy? The word has existed in dictionaries since 1899 and yum-yum as an exclamation of pleasure is recorded since 1878. This is the explanation given in several etymology dictionaries. In Senegal the word for food is “nyami” but that is just a coincidence. The best explanation of the origin of the word yummy is the following. Yummy comes from the ‘Yum’. This word comes from the Sanskrit mantra ‘Yum’ which is said during meditation. It helps to focus concentration on love and good things. The meditator would repeat Yum, Yum, Yum. Those traveling to India in the 1800s picked up on this. So now, if we think something is tasty and good, we think of joy, and say ‘Yum’. There is a you tube video of someone doing the “yum yum” meditation here.  That explanation gives a very pleasant slant on the yummy word and it makes me feel bad about not liking it. By the way the opposite of “yum” is “yuck” maybe this is the Sanskrit version of yin and yang.

Maybe a reason why I don’t like “yummy” is because we grow a lot of produce on our land and I am often scouring internet for recipes. Many food blogs are written by “popcorn assed muthafukas” ie (A person who is lame; in actions, speech, or overall demeanor). By the way, I found this expression on spotify in the lyrics of a song sung by a band called “yummy”. This may seem a little harsh and maybe I am just showing off by swearing but it is very annoying when I am trying to find a recipe and the author is just a middle class basterd who insists on telling everyone about the most trivial aspects of their lives interspersed with lashings of “yummies”, “yum-yums” and “yums”. Don’t they realise that the allotted praise phrases for this type of blog are “simply divine” or “utterly heavenly”. There may be a slight bit of English style class intolerance here, something akin to Arthur Scargill’s hatred of the filofax in the 1980’s.

There is another reason I don’t like “yummy”. The pedantic schoolteacher in me wishes that everyone were not so lazy and would have more imagination when using adjectives. Everything is not just “nice” or “cool”. Get off your mental arse and think of some more descriptive adjectives to describe things. Here are 160 to start with.

Acidic, Acrid, Aged, Amazing, Ambrosial, Appealing, Appetizing, Awesome, Bad, Bitter, Bittersweet, Bland, Brilliant, Burnt, Buttery, Chalky, Cheesy, Chewy, Chocolaty, Citrusy, Cool, Creamy, Crispy, Crumbly, Crunchy, Crusty, Delectable, Delicious, Delightful, Distasteful , Divine, Doughy, Dry, Dry, Dull, Eggy, Enjoyable, Enticing, Excellent, Exquisite, Extraordinary, Fantastic, Fatty, Fiery, Finger, Fishy, Fit For A King, Fizzy, Flakey, Flat, Flavor, Flavorful, Fresh, Fried, Fruity, Full-Bodied, Gamey, Garlicky, Gelatinous, Gingery, Glazed, Good, Gooey, Grainy, Greasy, Gritty, Harsh, Hearty, Heavenly, Heavy, Herbal, Horrible, Hot, Icy, Infused, Juicy, Juicy, Lean, Lemony, Light, Like, Lip, Luscious, Malty, Marvelous, Mashed, Meaty, Mellow, Mild, Minty, Moist, Mouthwatering, Mushy, Nectarous, Nutty, Oily, Oniony, Out Of This World, Overripe, Palatable, Peppery, Pickled, Piquant , Plain, Pleasant, Pleasant Tasting, Pleasing, Powdery, Raw, Refreshing, Rich, Ripe, Roasted, Robust, Rubbery, Runny, Salty, Sapid , Satisfying, Sautéed, Savory, Scrumptious, Seared, Seasoned, Sharp, Silky, Slimy, Smokey, Smooth, Soggy, Soupy, Sour, Spicy, Spongy, Stale, Sticky, Stringy, Strong, Succulent, Sugary, Super, Superb, Sweet, Sweet-And-Sour, Syrupy, Tangy, Tantalizing, Tart, Tasteless, Tasty, Tender, Terrific, Toasted, Tough, Unflavored, Unseasoned, Velvety, Vinegary, Watery, Wonderful, Yummy

If you need to see some of  these words used in sentences or learn how to use them in Spanish. Click here to see help with food adjectives in Spanish