1. Hi Laurel – I’ve been using the Net to research and arrange travel plans since 1997, when quite a few people thought it was a really strange geeky approach. In ’97 I was sold on the Atherton Rainforest Apartments in the Daintree’s website when they stated they put maps and binoculars in every apartment for you to go exploring, or not. It was quite quirky – even when we left the windows open and the wildlife came in to visit. So we ended doing an unforgettable trip to Cairns and the Daintree – then up to Cooktown.

    – and in recent years I have found sites such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree are really good to ask questions about tourist destinations. It’s like a virtual extension of word of mouth advertising. After my last trip I discovered a few of these that I wish that I had seen earlier. I don’t only want to see tourism operators on the web – which is all some

    – in future trips I will be definitely looking out for these


    KerrieAnne Christian’s last blog post..Second Life – Escapism or KM Tool ? – Brief

  2. Hi Laurel,

    We at VisitVineyards.com are currently conducting a survey of our over 20,000 subscribers – people interested in wine, food and related lifestyle travel, mainly in Australia. The average age of respondents is around mid to late 30s, with slightly more males than females.

    We included a question about sources of information. As you might expect websites rank highly for accommodation, tours etc but there is still a heavy reliance on print media for food and wine (the main motivators for travel for our subscribers), although this is changing. What you might find interesting though is the almost universal (in our sample) NON-reliance on blogs, forums and user-generated content. They uniformly rank last. TV is also very low.

    There were also quite a few comments left about this eg ‘can’t stand the rants in the blogosphere’, ‘want expert opinion not self-appointed commnentary’ etc etc. Here’s one example: “Life’s too short to bother with 99% of the bile and vitriol that clutters the blogosphere. Selecting out the useful 1% is impossible! Comments and reviews are only of use to me if I know they are expert and the author is identifiable”.

    Slightly more respondents are interested to read others’ comments than to post their own but overall these features are not what they want most. They want their information filtered first, by people who are experts in the area, or at minimum ‘like-minded’. Perhaps our subscribers are slightly more discerning than average but these are our findings so far.

    I agree re star ratings but again people indicate they want them backed by expert knowledge. This also seems to be what Thorn Tree is finding.

    We have not yet implemented the ability for people to post comments on individual products on our site (we have over 30,000 now), although we could – apart from the moderation efforts and costs, our subscribers are not saying that these are a priority for them. However that said Viator.com told me they were astonished at how much traffic UGC generated for them, but indicated a lot was from people who love to see/read their own comments!

    So yes, people like to ask questions, but it appears that they are very wary of whom the answers might be coming from. Even word of mouth does not rank as highly as you might imagine.

    If there are any changes when the survey closes I’ll let you know but we have a quite large sample size already so I don’t expect that it will.

    We have also just surveyed 15,000 of our suppliers, and even in the current GFC there are plenty doing well. There is a strong correlation with performance and a web presence with ability to book online (not necessarily their own site however; it could be through our site, or via a booking engine or etc).

    People like to use the web as a travel research and booking tool, for sure, and it definitely gives them access to products, events, experiences etc that they would otherwise never have known about.

    Kind regards,

    Robyn Lewis

    1. Hey Robyn,
      Yeah you have a big problem there. Unless you sent out the survey on paper which would only attract non-connected people, your database is low in connected members. That means it will be very hard to market to. Other major wine forums in Australia and overseas have well connected communities that makes it much easier to market to, and ensures they remain culturally relevant to a now adult Gen Y population (who are married with kids!).

      Thorn Tree is not the example I would look at – 30% of TripAdvisors 15 million members contribute content. Lonely Planet is playing catchup. I think your forums display some of the same challenges that LP have…?

      Your ratings for Alexa etc are very low – lower than this blog in fact, and I’ve only been on this URL for a few weeks. That is not important if you truly wish to deal with a non-connected database, but you’ve inspired me to put together a list of top aussie wine communities – I’ll try and get to that later. Perhaps instead of surveying “do you trust blogs” you asked them to list their fave ones, the response would’ve been different?

      Let me know if you have any questions on this ok?

      1. Hi Laurel,

        Yes, thanks for that. The survey is being conducted online, is getting a high response rate, and I agree the results are surprising, especially given the average age of respondents (within Gen Y bracket). As I said we haven’t introduced a UGC facility yet, but we will, and yes I agree that should assist us in reaching a broader audience.

        We’re not a wine site per se but a wine and food travel site, covering a different audience. Our Alexa ranking yesterday was 97,238, last weekly average 164,138 and has gone up considerably in the past few months (average 212,603); yours is 243,814 so I’m not sure what you were looking at there.

        Re our forum, we inherited an old one and have not promoted it at all, and have in fact closed most of it off; we are/were intending to focus more on individual product commentary a la TripAdvisor, Viator style. I use Lonely Planet as an example as they have been in the press a lot lately and as no doubt you know have just laid off quite a few people working in the online area.

        Maybe we have 20,000 people who don’t primarily want blogs etc but let’s hope that we can attract many more who do :-). Sure we can ask them their favourites; the survey is still open in fact so I will.

        Will keep you posted.

        Cheers – Robyn

        PS Can I change my avatar?!

  3. We went on a honeymoon trip to Bali, we stay in nusa dua. When we booked tour, I was taken aback by the very low price of the hotel, and I was afraid that he would disappoint me, but no, the hotel was amazing … very cozy, clean, spacious rooms .. beautiful garden with pond, and in it are teeming with “mad” fish, near which were stopped by the tourists to feed them with bread, a green area, and I would not call it a small, all matches hotel.. The people at the pool is not so much, and I will refute the rumors that have to get up at 7 am, to take a lounger on the beach, free lager can be found at any time. Guide services world without limite, we have not used, because had time to get acquainted with a woman who gave us the contacts of the local English speaking driver, he told me many interesting things, very cheerful, a wonderful man and a tour takes twice as cheaper.he give us various gifts and tell details, where to go, where good and reasonable prices. His name putra, since its well known, in case the need to leave his phone number: 081805338662 you will not regret it. In general, Bali is very beautiful and exotic place, there are very friendly people! entertainment very much, enough for all, both for youth and adults. We are pleased to be back there and I advise everyone to go there to fly … it’s unforgettable!

  4. Hi Laurel,
    I stumbled on your blog somehow, though I can’t exactly remember what I typed in. I’m really interested in learning how the site moved in it’s progression with interactive media. Did you implement the blog/forums?

    I started a new website called Wine & Food Travel, which started as a blog/online magazine. I’m finding that we’re outgrowing this layout and would like to move to something a bit more interactive. We don’t have a ton of visitors since our launch in April, 2010, but I’d definitely like to hear and learn from your site. Can you fill me in on it’s progress? Do you have any tips for us?

    Thanks! Sonya

  5. Don’t forget price. With the advent of the internet comparison shopping has hypoer accelerated and price, besides the destination is probably the number one determining factor, sometimes even trumping the destination choice. We know because we are always finding the cheapest prices http://www.onlinetravelcentre.ca

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