Saturday, March 20, 2010

Who Do You Trust? Not Precious Travel Writers

I've been writing a lot lately about the crowd-sourcing virtues of travel sites like those operated by Expedia's My point being that 1. everyone I know uses them at least for some part of travel-planning, especially to check for hotel reviews and 2. Traditional travel reviewing is lurching on its way to the tar pits, doomed by formulaic, precious writing (who reads that stuff about the dewey mists on the Cotswolds!) and by that old devil, irrelevance.

Now a new study (see chart above) by Menlo Consulting Group finds that Americans are significantly more trusting of information posted online by other travelers, than that by travel tourism professionals including mainstream travel writers, agents, and (duh) government tourism organizations.

"Americans have long relied on their friends and word-of-mouth for advice when researching and booking travel," said Heather Hardwick of Menlo Consulting. "What’s interesting is that they value the opinions of complete strangers above those of travel professionals—even journalists who presumably do not have a commercial agenda."

Quick, Maude, get the smellin' salts! Nobody gives a flying fig about that unbearably boring, humorless story by some hack about that divine bread-and-breakfast in New Hampshire where Amanda, the chamber-maid, cheerfully shows up with fresh towels and a pot of steamy coffee in the morning.

(And by the way, the usual suspects among the preternaturally precious would insist that the first word of the headline on this post must be "Whom.")

The Bastille of travel writing has been stormed. Just watch out for Robespierre lurking in the shadows, is all I'm saying.


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