All Roads Lead To Cincy – My Midwest Weekend (Part 1)

The end of my time in college was sad and is still missed, but the education we received opened up the world we live in. Jobs have begun to pull people to a handful of different places and regions. Friends and family of mine are spread out from sea to shining sea and scattered along the coasts, beginning their careers and in some cases furthering their education. It is fitting that my first post-grad trip was to visit a friend I lived with while studying abroad. Gone are the times of me visiting him in Boston to see Sox games, as he now calls Cincinnati home. My trip there is where this tale will begin.

Early on in the trip, I learned that Cincinnati is one of the more conveniently located cities geographically that I had ever been to. Every city we looked into visiting seemed to be within four hours and along routes that rarely see traffic. Most importantly, the flight from BWI to Cincy is only about an hour. I realized this as my beer was served to me, as the plane began descending. Early on, I employed what I learned in college and chugged the beer, \_(ツ)_/¯.  Our adventure through the “Queen City” began almost immediately after landing, as we dropped my luggage off and hit our first restaurant.

We led off with Taft’s Ale House in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. Taft’s is named after former United States president and Cincinnati native William Howard Taft and is located inside a converted 19th century church. This brewpub’s architecture is aesthetically pleasing and I would describe the food and beer as “holy”. We started with Loaded Tots (Beer Cheese, Bacon, Green Onions, and Jalapenos) and a couple of Taft’s freshly brewed beers. For my friends from Siena, Taft’s strongly resembled Druthers in its look, along with its menu. The beer cheese complemented the tots perfectly, but left us hungry for more. I had to follow up this tremendous starter with an entree deemed even better…”The Big Billy”.


The Big Billy

The Big Billy is your classic cheese steak, with some Cincinnati flavor mixed in. The cheese steak melts in your mouth and leaves you wanting to try more on the wide-ranging menu. Unfortunately, stuffing my face with more food does not mix well with a night out at the bars. We put our hunger to bed and hit the bars in Over the Rhine.

We began at Rhinegeist, which quickly became one of my favorite bars I’ve ever stepped foot in. Rhinegeist is a converted warehouse that has corn-hole, ping pong, multiple bars, and TVs, all on the first floor. It is a German beer hall in the heartland of America. The second floor is what takes Rhinegeist to the next level. Just a short walk up a rusty staircase lies the rooftop element of Rhinegeist. This is where classic German beer hall meets the 21st century, trendy bar scene. The contrast in the styles of the two floors provides a tremendous visual. The night may have become a bit blurrier and jumbled but the build of the bar is definitely unforgettable.

The long night led to a short night of sleep, but a little grogginess could not hide our level of excitement for the second leg of our adventure. Next up: Columbus, Ohio, or more specifically THE Ohio State University. Months ago we purchased tickets to Ohio State vs Maryland, which turned out to be Ohio State’s Homecoming. Columbus, Ohio is a MUST visit for any college football fan, as the pageantry displayed on game day is unmatched by anyone else in the country. I’ve never seen so many students wearing jerseys to a game.

We started off our day at one of the most popular breakfast joints in town, called Hangovereasy. I fell in love with the Chicken ‘N Waffles, which were topped with hot sauce and maple syrup. They absolutely vaulted into my top five breakfasts of all time.


GOAT of all breakfast




Upon the conclusion of our breakfast, we proceeded to take a stroll around campus to see what Ohio State is all about. Well, let’s just say I wasn’t at Siena anymore. Wow, what a majestic campus in terms of its size. If you walk far enough you’ll run right in to a behemoth of a stadium, known to most as Ohio Stadium. As you can see above, it is massive. I’ll get back to the stadium experience a little later on.

The next best thing about Ohio State is its bar scene on game days. The one we frequented was Out-R-Inn. The majority of the bar was situated outside, but there is still a small section that is inside. It is truly a game day bar and all around, just a fun place to be leading up to kickoff. The drinks were flowing and spirits were high all afternoon long.

The walk from the bar to the stadium was quick and easy, as we followed a sea of scarlet and grey. The game itself was not as exciting as the lead up to the game. It was 55-7 before you knew it and most of the stadium was heading for the exits by the middle of the 3rd Quarter. My one complaint with the stadium atmosphere, was that it never became raucous and loud, which is something I expect from a stadium the size of Ohio Stadium. Yes, I understand it was a blow out and was never that exciting, but I wouldn’t even say it was loud at the beginning of the game. Although, if that’s the only complaint I had, then it was a pretty damn good day.

Lookout in the next few days for part two of my trip, as it became even more exciting.


Email Marketing for InterContinental Hotels Group

Here is the rundown on IHGs newsletter that they send out,

I signed up for newsletters and emails from IHG for a variety of different reasons. I did not have to directly sign up, as they received my information when I stayed at a Holiday Inn in Aruba over Spring Break. Getting information through your customers upon them checking in is a great way to build your base of recipients for emails you send out. I will typically receive two different emails, one being a personal email they send me regarding the status of my points, through their customer loyalty program. The other is IHGs general newsletter that is sent to all members of their email list. This provides the reader information on deals that other hotels of theirs are offering and when you should look to travel. On a side note, I chose to stay in the Holiday Inn, which is part of IHG, because of the value it provided me in that location. It allowed me to stay in a high quality resort on the island of Aruba, without having to shell out the kind of money required to stay in a Marriott or Hilton brand hotel. When I receive an IHG email I open it a large percentage of the time because I am someone who is always intrigued by travel opportunities. I also look to see if their are any deals that will allow me to utilize the points I’ve earned. The subject line of one of the most recent emails I’ve received from them is “Experience the Luxury of Las Vegas.”


This deal breaks down the options a tourist has when they visit Las Vegas. You can get to car rental sites and credit card sites through this email. This interconnection of services is smart, because it makes the purchase experience much easier for the consumer. Whenever you get an email that mentions Vegas you almost always have to open it, because come on, who isn’t a fan of a trip to “sin city.” The content in the email absolutely matched the subject line and provided the reader a handful of options. The call to action on this email are the the “Book Now” and “Rent a Car.” These buttons will bring you to the respective pages where you can buy a rental car and a hotel room. At the time that I received this email, these calls to action were not ones that I looked to click on. For the purpose of this assignment I clicked on these buttons and found two well-organized sites that would make it easy for consumers to make a purchase. There is a sufficient amount of information in the emails they send me and the content is laid out in an organized manner. One way IHG can improve their email marketing is by highlighting more of their locations around the country. This email detailing their hotels in Las Vegas was one of the first ones I received like it. They also need to make it easier for the customer on the website to see how many points they have built up. The email about my loyalty account that allows me to see how many points I have is obviously personalized for me, which is a nice touch. The emails about their latest offers and newest locations are sent to everyone who signed up to receive their emails. These people may have even signed up unknowingly by staying in one of their hotels. This latest email about Las Vegas is definitely segment-dependent because of the luxurious nature of Las Vegas.


This email did not get me to click, but it probably got many people with more money than myself to click and see what this offer entailed. The next email from IHG should highlight a new destination that they are looking to promote and lay out some new deals for their customers.









Improving the SEO in a Travel Blog

This week’s blog is for Professor Michael Pepe’s Digital Marketing course and the focus is on how to improve my SEO. In order to do this, I must first improve my page relevance. The topic I blog about is travel and what to do when you are in a specific place. Therefore, I will use keywords like excursions, flights, hotels, and countries in order to increase the relevance of my blog on different search engines. More specifically, I will be improving my page relevance through my URL, Title Tag, Header Tag, Main Content, and Hyperlinks. One very easy way to improve your SEO, as talked about on, is to make your content easy to share. There should be a variety of share buttons at the bottom of your post and they should appeal to a broad range of readers.



The words that you choose to include in your URL carry the most importance when it comes to calculating a relevance score. This is what your readers see at the top of the screen and is what will define the website you operate on. So, the keywords you include in the URL can make or break whether your site will be visible through search engines. As a travel site, I need to ensure that my URL matches the topic I am writing about. This will improve its relevance and increase its SEO ranking.

Title Tag

The Title Tag is what shows up on the top of the page after clicking on your desired site. This is also heavily weighted when it comes to relevance and should make sense in relation to the URL.The Title Tag provides the reader a glimpse of what is to come on the site. My Title Tag is My World Adventure, which goes nicely with the world travel keyword in my URL.

Header Tag

The Header Tag holds great value when it comes to the Google search. There are three header tags, with those being  <h1>, <h2>, and <h3>. The <h1> tag is the largest header, so your best keyword should occupy this slot. Using header tags will make your sight easier to browse and find what you are looking for as the reader.


Hyperlinks add credibility to your blog through links to external sources. For example, if information I found on another site seems like it would be of use to my blog, I would include a hyperlink to that page. It is a way of citing a source without interrupting the flow of your blog.

One final way to help increase your SEO and get your blog off the ground would be to utilize the Google Keyword Planner tool. This allows you to mix and match keywords and theoretically see how they would perform in a search if you chose them. It can also help you incorporate historical statistics into your site and/or blog. Once again, it’s worth your time to check out Professor Pepe’s blog at:

Greetings and Farewell From The “Happy Island”-Why You Need To Visit Aruba


Spring Break as a Senior in college is typically reserved for long nights filled with many friends and variations of beer and mixed drinks, but I was looking to do something different. I decided to book a trip to Aruba with my girlfriend and experience what is known as the “happy island.” Wow, what an unbelievable decision this was, as we had the time of our lives. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a gregarious and knowledgeable taxi driver who provided us with everything we needed to know for our stay in Aruba. We were housed by the Holiday Inn and Resort on Palm Beach, which is one of the most valuable properties in the world due to its expansive beach coverage and tremendous amenities. The grounds are littered with colorful lizards and iguanas that man the rocks above the pools. Every room at the hotel was in a great location, yet I feel like ours may have been the best. We stayed on the side of the hotel, on the first floor, which is just a stones throw away from the beach. The property is surrounded by a variety of restaurants, which were terrific and filled with freshly caught seafood. So that is all just a brief summary of the trip, now lets get to the details.

The first of the two excellent excursions we went on was an ATV Tour around the island with the tour company Kini Kini. Our tour guide was Stuart and he was terrific. We took the ATVs around the majority of the island and through the hot Aruba desert. This tour was bumpy and at times a little unnerving. Our guide first brought us to  a natural bridge that spanned across the shoreline. We were able to take photos and marvel at its beauty in our time here. During our tour we also visited a cove that we were able to jump in to and swim within its boundaries. The cove’s water was was warm and inviting and provided protection from the sharks and other predators that exist outside its walls in the much colder Atlantic Ocean. This cove visit was separate from the stop we made at a natural pool a little while later. Through the clear water you could see the abundance of wild life that makes this pool home. The fish came in many different colors and sizes and the crabs roamed the rocky walls that sat above the pool. There were just enough people in the pool to be social but not enough to overcrowd it. The ride down to the pool was rocky and painful at times but was 100% worth it.



Aruba’s Natural Bridge

Our second excursion came later on in the week and boy was it a dandy! We toured the Caribbean Sea on a machine called a Seabob. It was created by a Navy SEAL and can dive deep down into the sea and travel at high speeds if the settings are adjusted accordingly. Fortunately, our machines were set at lower levels which allowed us to take everything in. Our first visit was to the Antilla shipwreck, which sits ominously at the bottom of the sea. Staring you right in the face are years of history, as the Antilla was a German ship that was sunk by Dutch authorities in Aruba when Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1939. It is known to be the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean. We were able to take in all of this information from our guide as we experienced it in person, making it that much cooler. After scavenging around the ship we made our way over to the coral reef that exists closer to the shore. This reef is a colorful representation of the beautiful wildlife that exists on the island of Aruba. The highlight of the reef was being able to feed the eclectic group of fish that swam aside our seabobs. I felt like I jumped on to the set of Finding Nemo, as colorful fish surrounded me and gigantic sea turtles looked on from the sea floor. I give sea bobbing two thumbs up and proclaim it a “must do” in places that contain coral reefs and other mysteries of the sea.


Miscellaneous Notes and Observations

-Deciding to ride an ATV for the first time uphill in a rocky desert is a questionable move that could lead to near death experiences.

-If you see a dog wandering the beach or street, it’s probably wild or a stray, so act accordingly

-Lizards and Iguanas are like ants there…They’re EVERYWHERE.


-I lost $7.00 at the casino, the slots are definitely rigged and I probably should’ve gambled with more money.

-If you eat anything but seafood you’re making a huge mistake.

-Happy Hour at Bugaloe’s is the place to be, and if the kids blocking the entrance to the bar look like they’re 15, they absolutely are

-Sometimes you will feel like you’re in the northeast, everyone seemed to be from New York or Massachusetts

The Travel Site That Will Send You On Some Wild Adventures

There are many times when I was abroad that I found myself spontaneously adventuring through Europe, but there were also many hours spent behind a computer screen laying out my trips. On I always found myself to be a click away from another crazy excursion. Today, I am going to assess this site on each of the following dimensions: (1) Traffic (2) Conversion and (3) Revenue Maximization. This is part of an assignment for Professor Michael Pepe’s class. He teaches a course called Digital Marketing that specializes in blogging.


Picture from a Viator customers Northern Lights Tour in Iceland

(1) Traffic:

Direct Traffic

Viator gets tremendous site traffic each day, due to the unique travel options it provides the reader with. It is a branch off of the booking site, TripAdvisor, which gives it instant credibility and brand recognition. I used Viator to book everything from a dog sledding expedition in the Arctic Circle to a canyoning excursion on the island of Madeira. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I was on that site at least once a day for a month and a half straight. They do a tremendous job marketing themselves as a “trip insider” which is what people want to hear when booking trips. The site is easy to use and full of great options, which is why they receive so much internet traffic.

Paid Referral Traffic

I will often see banners in travel sites I go to that have Viator on it. Viator is able to efficiently manage where it places its advertisements.

(2) Conversion:

Conversion is the process you go through on a website that takes you from start to finish. Viator is extremely well organized and when you decide the excursion you’d like to purchase, you click on it then proceed to edit how many tickets you would like. There are three categories of tickets which are adult, child, and infant. You are shown the cost in big font in the appropriate currency and are then brought to the checkout. Viator also lets you check the availability of your desired excursion prior to purchasing the ticket.

(3) Revenue Maximization:

There is a customer review section attached to every excursion and tour they offer, which is extremely helpful for future customers on the site. If you go to a booking site and see the overall sentiment about the site is positive, then you will be more likely to book through that same site. Although reviews are not directly linked to revenue, they are a huge part in getting more people to buy from your site down the road.