Overview of what I do

Since 2012, I’ve been a part-time reporter covering travel technology companies for Tnooz, a London-based website.

I blog mostly B2B trade news. I’ve averaged 150 posts a year during the past several years.

You can e-mail me, here.

I previously did consumer journalism. Between March 2011 and February 2014, I was a contributor to BBC Travel, mainly writing about travel technology. My February 2014 peek inside hotel design labs is fairly representative.

Other places I’ve written for repeatedly include Condé Nast Traveler (US edition) and BlackBook.

Between 2007 and 2010, I was senior editor at Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel (where I wrote stories like “Six Foreign Car-Rental Fees to Watch for on Vacation“).

I’ve appeared on US national TV (NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, ABC) to discuss my stories more than 20 times, including on NBC Nightly News, twice. I’ve appeared a half-dozen times on Peter Greenberg’s national travel radio show and once on BBC World Service. I’ve done the occasional video, such as “How to rent a hybrid car“.

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Before that, I was an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine (where I wrote stories like “The 25 Best Travel Sites.”)

In those roles I launched a blog, a redesign, two print columns (“The Lowdown” and “Worth Every Penny”), and a few social media accounts.

My first job out of university was as a reporter at Foreign Policy magazine.

Over the years, I’ve also freelanced one-off pieces for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications.

I like social media. For a couple of years, I co-edited the official Twitter accounts for @BBC_Travel and @BudgetTravel, which has given me a better sense of why some headlines are widely shared.

If you made it this far, you may want to see a quick round-up of my “longread” journalism.

Highlights of my work


bbc hompeage travel tech

BBC TRAVEL

How Google Glass could ease air travel (This presaged by a few months Virgin’s pioneering test of the technology.)

New measures in airport security

Skip the hotel, stay in a horse A look at unusual lodging worldwide.

Think you can fly a jumbo jet? Try this new simulator in London

TNOOZ

The most widely read of my articles in 2013 was: “Kayak adds price forecasts to US and UK fare search, saying it’s better than Bing Travel

My most commented-on article of 2013 was this: “Three years on from Google Panda, many travel sites struggle with traffic.”

My three most favorite Tnooz posts of 2013.

Two favorite interviews I learned so much from while doing:
A Q&A with Paul English, co-founder of Kayak and Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk

I’m proud of the many scoops I had on the European rail industry, in particular. I was first to report on Amadeus’s effort to integrate European rail data, on Loco2’s debut, on GoEuro’s funding round, and on Capitaine Train’s debut (well, at least first in English on that one).

USA TODAY

What to do in London if you’re visiting as a cruisegoer

 

My more deeply reported pieces and narratives

I’ve done many deeply reported longreads. Some examples:

I explained how Expedia advertisements began to trail customers from desktop to mobile, in a ground-breaking marketing effort.

My May 2013 story on how an Accor executive had misused TripAdvisor ratings was cited by the New York Times

My reporting led to a major online travel agency, CheapOair, to disavow some dubious search engine optimisation practices.

I had another minor scoop here: Caught red-handed: Airbnb, TripVillas, and the curious case of a rogue spammer.

I also revealed how one US company had (mis-)handled a revelation by an ethical hacker of a security vulnerability in its payment process, which I was the first journalist to report on and which was a flaw affecting multiple companies.

A few years ago, I filed a US Freedom of Information Act request to find out what records the federal government had collected on me from my travels internationally. My travel dossier was picked up by several publications, like BoingBoing.net.

I’ve been effective at generating off-diary stories. For instance, earlier this year, I wrote about a proposed switch by airlines worldwide from running their reservations systems on a 40-year-old programming language called Edifact to more modern XML-based languages. I interviewed sources over two months and subsequently produced a series of in-depth reports on the topic, like this summary and this set of screenshots.

Startup coverage is something I excel at, and I have reviewed dozens of startups for various publications. For Tnooz, I recently dug in to what happened to a Bulgarian-based business-to-business travel technology startup called Everbread, which had collected millions in venture capital funding but managed to disappear off of the industry’s radar.

I have many industry contacts, and they supply useful story leads. I was the first to report in July on a new consortium to create a pan-European booking tool for multi-modal transport. For instance, by cultivating contacts within Loco2, a UK rail-ticketing startup, I was the first reporter to publish a story about the Guardian’s decision to hire the company as a white-label provider for its Guardian Trains tool.

An earlier piece by me on the rise of peer-to-peer car hire schemes in the US was published in print and online by the New York Times.

I’m agnostic on storytelling formats. I’ve used six-second .gif files to explain the replacement of postcards with Vines, and I’ve produced a couple of videos and dozens of slide shows.

These heavily reported, “investigative” pieces supplement my main bread-and-butter work, which has been reviewing technology products and services for consumers, which I’ve honed since 2007, when I did a in-person factory visit at Blue Nile, the first online retailer of diamond rings, to my current regular gig reviewing consumer tools and websites for BBC.com/travel — where I’ve written 20 reviews in 2013 to mid-year.

My April, May, and June journalism

BBC Travel

[The following links aren't viewable to UK residents because of BBC rules. Sorry.]

Tnooz

Highlights of my January through March 2013 journalism

BBC Travel
[The following links aren't viewable to UK residents because of BBC rules.]

Tnooz

Condé Nast Traveler

LearnVest

Links for 2012

A list of my writing in 2012.

Condé Nast Traveler (US edition)

BBC.com/travel 

[The following links aren't viewable to UK residents because of BBC rules. Sorry.]

August-December:

BBC TRAVEL FEATURES

A few short pieces:

Tnooz

In July 2012 I joined as a part-time reporter for this pub, which is the number-one most read news blog in the travel trade.

My most read post in 2012 was iPhone5 – new maps, Passbook comes front and center, and more
My post that received the most comments was: What are the best cities around the world for travel tech startups?
Story I’m proudest of: After early hype and a quiet year, Everbread says it has something baking in Singapore
See the full list of my Tnooz posts, here.

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MEDIA APPEARANCES
I was a guest talking about the pocket wi-fi story for BBC Travel on Peter Greenberg’s national US radio show (at the 12-minute mark) in December 2012, as well as earlier in April 2012, when we did a radio show on the Eurostar between London and Paris.

SOCIAL MEDIA
At the end of the week of tweeting travel news links for the @BBC_Travel account under the #bbcinbrief hashtag, I occasionally summarize the best tweets at BBC Travel.
For Budget Travel, I did a monthly Q&A under the hashtag #askBT.

BUDGET TRAVEL FEATURES, TOP TEN LISTS, and SLIDE SHOWS
11 Surprisingly Lovable Airlines which was also featured on NBCNews.com
15 More Places Every Kid Should See Before 15 (1,500+ likes)

BUDGET TRAVEL BLOG POSTS
Full list at my page on Budget Travel’s website
Some of my posts were re-published by NBCNews.com, including:
New Viator website offers cheaper shore excursions for cruisersMySeatFinder fetches you a better seat automatically.

PHOTOGRAPHY
This summer, I ran around town taking photos of London during the 2012 Games (Flickr) for BBC Travel’s Olym-pix slide show.

 

2011 writing highlights

I wrote 18 feature stories this year for BudgetTravel.com, the website of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine in the US. One piece that CNN re-published — 8 Foreign Fast-Food Chains Worth a Taste — received more than 7,000+ Facebook “likes”. A piece re-published on Yahoo, World’s Prettiest Castle Towns, drew 2,500 likes.

I did 169 travel-themed posts for BudgetTravel’s blog.

MSNBC republished 18 of these, including “Travel tips for Android and iPhone users.”

I’ve been freelancing for BBC.com/travel’s blog since its first day in March 2011. In June, I became the site’s tech travel columnist. Here’s a typical one of my weekly pieces: “The best photo-sharing and storage sites

Since July 2011, I’m the London guides editor for BlackBookMag.com and its app, writing (and editing) about the city’s newest cool spots.

This year, I’ve also done some writing for The New York Times‘s In Transit blog, with posts such as “Plane or Train? Sites to Help You Decide,” Expedia Offers Free Room Upgrades for Top Customers, and “In Bay Area, New Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Offers.”

I wrote a bunch of city guides for the redesigned Away.com, such as for New York City and Dublin. I did a brief stint at AOL Travel News: and I wrote a handful of stories for Frommers.com.

Social media: All year, I’ve done a monthly afternoon Q&A chat on with Twitter users via the @budgettravel account. Since the fall, I’ve tweeted travel-related news links in the mornings every third week on @BBC_Travel. You can find my personal account at @sean_oneill.

Before moving to London, I was the senior editor of BudgetTravel.com in New York City for three years. For details, click here.

My work in 2011 – Full list

I wrote the following travel stories this year, with the help of talented editors.

For Budget Travel and elsewhere:

8 Foreign Fast-Food Chains Worth a Taste (CNN.com; 6,000+ Facebook likes)
World’s Prettiest Castle Towns (Yahoo; 2,000 likes)

10 Gorgeous Pools You Won’t Believe Are Public (NBCNews.com)
Top Travel News of 2011 (Yahoo)
8 Common Air Travel Snafus And How to Beat Them (CNN)
How to Score Tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics (Today.com)

World’s Most Amazing Hotel Pools (co-authored; Yahoo!,CNN)
25 Most Photographed Places on Earth (NBCNews.com)
10 Best Beachfront Hotels For Under $150 a Night (Bing/MSN)

North America’s Most Charming Fall Islands 2011 (NBCNews.com)
8 Items You Never Pack…But Should (NBCNews.com)
6 Foreign Car-Rental Fees to Watch for (Oct. 2011, print edition; CNN)
The Problem Solvers: Four New Online Travel Tools (print edition, Mar. 2011)

Top 10 Most Shocking Mummies in the World (FoxNews.com)
Top 10 Beaches From the Movies
Quiz: Think You Know the National Parks?
20 Spectacular Carnival Celebrations

I’ve been freelancing for BBC.com/travel’s blog since its first day in March 2011. As of June, I’m also the site’s tech travel columnist. Some representative posts:

Booking holiday rentals gets easier
Five favourite travel apps of 2011
The best photo-sharing and storage sites
Maps that give more than directions
Tools that (almost) make travel easier
Small victories in the war against lost luggage

Gift guide 2011: Europe
Teleport yourself via new image search apps
Better tools for making friends with like-minded travellers
An analysis of Google’s travel plans

Rent an electric bike in London
Compact cameras add GPS
Is your airline any good?
The future of travel search
Must-have apps for looking like a local

Tech tools for surviving travel emergencies
Top picks for portable entertainment
New developments in making calls overseas affordable
3D audio may revolutionise travel
Tools to plan your itinerary faster
Taxi apps get into gear
Best tools to track travel rewards
Google’s new travel plans
New photo-driven websites can inspire travel

Since July 2011, I’m the London guides editor for BlackBookMag.com and its app, writing (and editing) about the city’s newest cool spots.

NBCNews.com has re-published many of my Budget Travel blog posts:

Zipcar is driving competition in rental cars
Wendy’s goes gourmet in Japan
Some cruise lines take the ‘all’ out of ‘all-inclusive’
How to avoid flights that may get canceled
The 5 smartest vacation photos you’ve never taken
Open secret websites for booking hotels
Travel tips for Android and iPhone users
Electric bike rentals smooth out sightseeing
How to spruce up a vacation rental
5 ways to keep your cords tidy, organized
In Britain, paying to skip long security lines
New Site TripAlertz Is Groupon for Travel
Get discounted travel by buying gift cards
Know these mind games for a better vacation
4 trip-planning services often overlooked
Talking travel on Facebook can invite dilemmas
Is Legoland Florida worth the cost?
5 surprising foreign laws that put travelers at risk

This year, I’ve also done some writing for The New York Times‘s In Transit blog, with posts such as “Plane or Train? Sites to Help You Decide,” Expedia Offers Free Room Upgrades for Top Customers, and “In Bay Area, New Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Offers.”

I wrote a bunch of city guides for the redesigned Away.com, such as for New York City and Dublin. I did a brief stint at AOL Travel News: In-Flight Movies Could Go 3D, Visit PBS’s Downton Abbey on Your Own, and other posts. I also did a brief stint at Frommers.com included such mini-features as How to Avoid Being Pickpocketed While Traveling and Credit Card Rewards: Hidden Bonuses in Your Pocket.

I did a piece for AARP, the first one I’ve ever seen on “gay senior travel,” titled “5 LGBT-Friendly Vacations.”

Social media:
I do a monthly afternoon Q&A on with Twitter users via the @budgettravel account. Personally, traction for my recent work includes Lisbon becomes an even more lovely bargain (150+ Facebook likes) and Should we tip flight attendants? (125 Facebook likes).

Fun features
Gorked. PFO. Jabs. — I tried to humorously explain British medical lingo for BBC America’s Anglophenia blog (timed to coincide with the new TV documentary series 24 Hours in the ER). I also wrote a round-up of interviews with working class Londoners in the aftermath of the summer 2011 riots.

Media appearances:
In April, I did a stint on the royal wedding for CNBC. This year, I was also a guest on the Peter Greenberg US travel radio show in April 2011 and August 2011; and on the This Week in Travel podcast in May 2011. Since I moved to London, I’ve done live media hits on behalf of Budget Travel at ITV studios for MSNBC, Fox News, and NBC Nightly News. In July I was interviewed about my editing and freelancing experiences by Travel Writing 2.0.

Non-editorial
I’ve done ghost-writing and I’ve edited annual reports for non-travel commercial clients, mostly related to tech start-ups. I’ve also done some advertorial for the promotion of a few TV shows. I keep that work separate from my travel editorial work. Details on request.

Press trip policy
I have never taken any press trips, media discounts, or free gifts of travel gear intended for review, etc. I’ve been lucky enough to have steady editorial work every since I graduated from university. I don’t look down on people who have accepted rewards from travel companies they report on; in the UK, for example, it’s a standard practice; it’s just something I haven’t done.

For the short version, you’re better off clicking on the “About Sean” page.

Updated 1 December 2011.

Gadling does a goodbye Q&A with me about my time at Budget Travel

Was a fun interview to do.

Talking cruises on ABCNews.com

Taped these two segments about Top Tips for Cruises aboard the Explorer of the Seas.