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Sharon Cracknell

Book Review: Pringles, Visas and the Glow in the Dark Jesus by Sharon Cracknell

Pringles, Visas and the Glow in the Dark Jesus – on Amazon 

A writing rule says – first phrase should be catchy. "I knew something was seriously wrong when four policemen entered my classroom and signaled me to leave with them" was catchy enough for to continue reading Sharon Cracknell's book. It is in fact a travel diary, story of the author's trips to exotic countries like Uganda, Indonesia or even Kyrgyzstan. 

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The Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum: from ancient scripts to nanotechnologies

Would you ever believe that the entire Bible text may fit onto a nano chip of a sugar grain size?! Now it is a reality, and you may see it in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This incredible exhibit was created for the 50th anniversary of the museum in the laboratories of Technion Institute in Haifa. The engraved text needs to be magnified 10,000 time so a human eye can read it!

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Tips and tricks for TBEX first-timers

This week I attended Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference in Jerusalem and it was A-MA-ZING! Both from social and professional perspective this was one of the greatest conference I have ever seen. I want to share with you ten tips on how to maximize your benefit from TBEX, if you are a travel blogger.

TBEX is the largest networking event for travel bloggers, travel content professionals and industry experts. Every time it takes place in a new location in Europe, the U.S. or Asia Pacific. The 16th TBEX took place in my home country – Israel, in Jerusalem, on 20-22 March 2017. The next ones are in Huntsville, Alabama in May, 2017 and in Killarney, Ireland in October, 2017.

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Start-up review: GivingWay

From all travel start-ups that I met at TravelTech 2016 conference in Tel Aviv, GivingWay touched my heart the most. This is a group of passionate people committed to make volunteering tourism more affordable by directly linking potential volunteers to non-profit organizations.

Their website now grants a direct access to over 300 organizations (and growing) spanning more than 70 countries – from Europe to Asia, from Africa to Latin America. The opportunities include educational, social, healthcare and ecological projects. The host organizations often provide accommodation and/or meals. The volunteer still have to pay the airfare and sometimes a "volunteering fee" to NGO, but not to the placement agent.

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10 reasons to visit Nepal (even if you are not into trekking)

Travelling to Nepal is mostly associated with trekking to Everest base camp or around Annapurna. So people tend to think that it is does not make sense to go to Nepal, if you do not have 20+ days to spend in the mountains or you just do not like trekking. But Nepal has much more to offer besides this and is one of the most pleasant and interesting countries of the region to travel. 

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New Delhi: Survival Kit

The capital of India is full of magnificent temples, mausoleums, museums and parks. The shopping opportunities are plenty and the food is exotic. At the same time, New Delhi is dirty, crowded and full of scammers. It is also infamous for “Delhi belly” – diarrhea and food poisoning experienced by many tourists. If you want positive experiences to outweight the negative ones, I invite you to pay attention to the New Delhi survival kit below.

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Travel Tech Start-ups: a gold field or a desert?

Last week I attended Travel Tech Israel 2016 conference in Tel Aviv: a unique event that brought together travel start-ups, large industry players and venture investors.  Here I want to share with you the insights from investors’ panel – if you run a travel start-up or have a “next big idea”, this summary is for you.

B2C model – The Loyalty Problem

The good news is that tourism is a huge industry worldwide. It generates 10% of global GDP and create 1 of every 11 jobs worldwide.

The bad news is that tourism is not an easy place for start-ups. Large players like hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) like, Expedia,, etc., are squeezing the value from the supply chain. The investors’ consensus is that “nothing can beat the existing ecosystem unless something revolutionary happens”. Overall, B2C segment is viewed by investors as a “death zone”.

The main problem in selling travel-related services directly to individuals is low customer loyalty – the customer switches from you to your competitor in a blink of an eye, if the latter offers a better price or extra features. This results in very high customer acquisition costs. In fact, every single sale should cover the costs for customer acquisition.  Look for business models allowing large one-off transactions (e.g., premium or group packages) to cover customer acquisition costs. Example: WeTrip, a platform for group booking of activity packages for football matches, skiing and biking tours.

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Start-up review: Stray Boots

Do you like scavenger hunts how I do? People who know me well may remember that three of my Tel Aviv scavenger hunts were sold via Stray Boots mobile application.

Stray Boots is an American start-up offering group and individual mobile scavenger hunt tours. This market is full of small players, but very few of them manage to scale their business significantly, so this case is definitely worth to look at.

They started with a mobile application for individual and small-group scavenger hunt tours which offered a 2-3-hour city walk full of puzzles, riddles and fun facts. Then the company decided to go global and developed an editing tool, that allowed people to create their own tours – either for private use or for sale in the mobile application (after the tour is edited and approved by the Stray Boots team). That's when I learned about them and we started to work together.

After couple of years, however, they decided to close the global program – apparently it was taking too much time and effort, but did not bring the expected profit. Now the company is concentrating mainly on corporate team-buildings and group tours in the U.S.

The lesson that I learned from Stray Boots is "don't be afraid to change your business model if you see that your original one does not pay off". This sounds obvious, but it takes a lot of courage and vision to scrap some of your previous work and go to a different direction. Good luck, guys!

Do you know other impressive stories of such "strategic U-turns"?Please share in comments.