Travel Advice on the Internet
edited: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
By Walt Kazmierczak
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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Describes the reason why people want and need to speak to a live person when planning their trips.
Travel Advice on the Web: Who’s the Expert Anyway?
Millions of comments are posted on the web by purported “experts” who may lack expertise, particularly when it comes to travel and vacation planning. Literally hundreds of sites, including one’s such as TripAdvisor, Wayn, Travel Pod, Epinions, IgoUgo, MyTravelGuide, and TravelHunters, just to name a few, offer advice from fellow travelers. After spending valuable time and effort scrolling through comment after comment, you could find some useful advice, but even if you did, the advice is not always right. User generated comments on these sites might be from sellers of travel or paid-bloggers who don’t always disclose whether their reviews gain them incentives. And of course, anyone with an ax to grind can offer a very skewed review. Bottom line, a lot of information contained in these posts is outdated, inaccurate, biased, and just plain wrong.
There are numerous examples of opinions on “travel internet sites” that consumers should be wary of, including the following:
• One post suggests booking hotel rooms early and often: You can “usually” cancel without a penalty if done a few days in advance. Botton Line: Hotels.com says that cancellations usually are allowed 24 to 72 hours in advance, but fees are involved; many Web-only deals are nonrefundable.
• And how about this interesting set of posts: For seasickness, several users suggest ginger root, with no warning of side effects. Bottom Line: Ginger has blood-thinning effects that could be very dangerous to some people.
• Another post says it will cost “about” $25 to get from New York’s JFK Airport to midtown Manhattan. Bottom Line: The flat fare is $45, plus tolls and tip. The posting also notes it should take less than 50 minutes. Try that at rush hour!
• There is a post that says “it’s easy” for a baby to sit on a parent’s lap for short flights. Now if you did not know better, you might just go ahead and take that advice. Bottom Line: The Federal Aviation Administration “strongly recommends” that kids under the weight of 40 pounds should use child safety seats. Safety counts, right?
• Finally, here is one of my favorites: “It’s almost always OK to drink the water locally.” Bottom Line: Almost always? Now that good advice!
These “suspect advice” examples cause confusion, and in the worst cases, can literally turn your trip into a disaster.
So What’s a Traveler To Do?
I agree wholeheartedly that travel-advice sites can provide lots of general information that’s worthwhile and correct. In any case, where else can you go on the Web to receive “fast” answers to obscure and not so obscure questions (“How many people can fit in the taxi from Tijuana to San Diego? Will I be permitted to go inside the Temple to pray?”). Given the relevancy and timeliness of advice in these posts, you might think that the advice you’re getting is better than from travel publications that pay reporters to take destination trips. I say, “User beware!”
If you’re stuck on the idea that online opinion sites are the only way to go, I recommend you:
• Read posts made on several sites surrounding your topic. We know you’ll find various opinions that might inform you better than if you only read one.
• Always check the currency of the post. Things change rapidly in the world of travel so you don’t want to get outdated advice and find yourself unable to visit the shrine or recreational park that was on your list because it’s just burned down, or worse find yourself in the midst of a crisis.
• Finally, you should know the Web site’s focus. For example, TripAdvisor and Epinions provide advice on the widest array of topics. IgoUgo focuses on destinations and activities, TravelHunters on cruises, MyTravelGuide on hotels.
And Now for Something Completely Different
When it comes to planning a great trip, saving money on travel, or making sure your safe and avoiding health risks when you arrive at your destination, we recommend you get advice from “real” online and offline experts. Problem is, who are they, what are their credentials, and how can I reach them? Impossible? Don’t have the time? Is the advice I’m getting really from an expert? Where can I get fast, up-to-date advice?
That’s where a company called BitWine comes in. BitWine is building the most extensive network of travel experts that you can speak to live, right from the comfort of your desktop! It’s all made possible by new leas and bounds made in Voice over Internet Protocol technology and Internet Broadband. Sounds confusing? Actually, VoIP and Broadband technology has been around for a decade. Through BitWine you can now dial-an-expert right from your own PC, speak with them live, and actually see them on your screen! Instantaneoulsy!
So who’s on BitWine? You’ll find “locals” from every corner of the world living in the town that you’re thinking to have dinner at, the finest authors of travel guides and journalists that make it their living to know exactly what’s-what when you travel, and eco-travel experts that can help you make sure your trip is not only fun, but planet-friendly, just to name a few examples of the network’s expert members. Yes, you’ll also find the occasional travel agent, but you can be sure that he or she is the best-of-the-best when they’re on BitWine. How so? Because BitWine has a very rigorous process of making sure only the most trusted and credentialed folks are part of their network.
So the next time you’re planning to go abroad, take a cruise, or just want to get away for a weekend, reach out to get trusted advice from real people. Try BitWine.com.