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Posted by - ® Mark (admin) on March 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm:

Hi Everyone

I would appreciate some advice and suggestions, particularly from regular / registered posters.

For a large number of reasons, I am "having" to change my / my company's travel sites, including this one (travelforum dot org) and the associated reservations site (travelideas dot net).

I have the following game plan;

1) I want or rather feel I need (for search engine reasons) to change this site or rather the forum software. I noticed that this forum's messages were no longer being treated as well in searches on Google. Then strange things started happening with Google (just do a search for "Thailand Travel Forum" and you will see what I mean - you will get the results for the Bali forum). I contacted Google but they did not answer. I spent quite some time talking with others on webmaster forums who had also experienced odd things on their sites (not necessarily forums).

I changed various things on the forum to try and determine what the problem is, or rather eliminate it. I have come to the conclusion the problem is with the way this forum produces messages. You will see more modern forums have a single message thread (which has the same page style / links, etc. as the main forum page), which grows as people reply. This forum is an old style and it produces a new simple (does not look like the main forum page) html message file each time someone replies to an earlier message. I believe Google is penalizing this style of forum as it resembles what is called "Spam Machine Generated Gateway Pages", where a spam site owner produces thousands of simple html gateway pages which he hopes will rank on Google for various diverse search terms, if you understand what I mean; if not, donít worry.

I believe Google is aware of this problem for this forum style but is not prepared to comment on it to me as it gives details of their search algorithm filters and they consider this old forum style dead or dying, so not worth worrying about!

This, my decision to go the anti-corruption route (sure, I understand people do not want to hear about human and civil rights abuse when they are planning a holiday) and Bali's recent problems are why the forum has not been as busy as it once was, as fewer people are looking and / or finding us for Bali related search returns. So I have little choice but to buy new forum software which means this style, which many prefer, will go. I will keep the old forum messages and launch the new forum when I can, so people will still be able to go back and look up old posts. I will do this ASAP but when I have time! I already know which forum software I will be using.

2) I am looking for a charity to support in Bali - I personally would like to support an anti-poverty site like the East Bali Poverty Project but I emailed them once ages ago with an offer of support for something else and they never replied, despite reminders, so I thought they may be friends with Jack Daniels. I do not know why they ignored a donation offer even so, but if they did they are not the people I thought they were anyway.

What I intend doing (after the forum change) is to change my company's reservations site (travelideas dot net) to be a charitable and pro-ethics site. I intend to improve / extend the direct reservations aspect to allow hotels / villas to declare how ethical they are (declare whether all the service charge goes to the staff as it should, etc.) so that potential guests can select a hotel by how noble it is.

I also intend having all direct reservation commissions go to a nominated charity. Direct reservations come from people who enquire with hotels on my site via my enquiry forms and then book with the hotel / villa. After they have been, paid and gone, a 5% commission is due to my company (paid locally into a collection account or to our company account in the UK), it is these commissions that I intend in future to go to a worthy cause / charity. So I guess I need to start planning for this (God knows when it will be as there the technical / reservation software changes as well but hopefully around the summer this year), so if anyone has any charity they think would be good, please let me know.

The charity or their representative (can be a forum member) basically will be sent a monthly enquiry statement by my system (detailing all the enquiries for that month) plus all claims by the hotels / villas to have paid commissions into the nominated charity's account; they will need to check that account and verify it / tell me if it did not come (or contact the hotel directly), but that is all. I will have all other aspects administered my end such as correcting hotel balances (the hotels / villas do not pay commissions until they have accumulated to above US$100).

I am not all heart; all wholesale commissions (booked via Planet Holiday, etc.) due to my sites will come to me / my company to enable me to run / maintain / operate the sites of course.

3) Once I have the above forums and Bali / Thailand Hotels reservations aspects done / implemented, I will then move this (the new) forum AND the reservations site onto one domain, travelethos dot com (a domain I bought a few months back when I started thinking about all of this). Travelforum dot org will remain solely then as an archive of all the existing forum messages, and will one day disappear like all good yet forgotten guys do!

4) Once the transfer to the new domain is complete, I will then start adding more facilities as I promised or rather intimated before such as ethical travel company (agents, hotels, etc.) directory (free listing to any and all ethical, legal company), plus picture gallery, blogs (specialized JBR's and write-ups) and more.

Hopefully the new site will grow in terms of users / countries and become a popular site. I want to add environmental stuff too of course, like the option to actually pay (donate money) for your carbon emissions when you travel by aircraft and by highlighting truly eco-friendly hotels / travel businesses.

Just thought I would let you all know and ask for any suggestions regarding charities.

Regards / RSVP
Mark

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