Answered: Destination Travel is still pretty useless

Discussion in 'Feedback/Support/Suggestions' started by RichardInSF, Apr 27, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    The specific country travel forums for places that I visit a lot or live near (SF,NYC, England, Japan, etc) have always occupied a lot of my time on FT. They never take much of my time on MP. Indeed, each time I come here I only look at most at one because the wheat-chaff ratio is so low.

    Changes were supposed to happen on April 1, it was rumored, but nothing seems to have changed -- these forums generally cover too many countries, are filled with people posting their photos, have lots of auto-generated overly-cutesy "Nile Guide" posts, and are generally useless -- at least to me.

    Any changes in the air?
     
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  2. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    Always welcome fair questions such as this and appreciate the chance to exercise my analytics mind.
    I'm glad to hear that Destination Travel has been valuable to you on FT—remember my goal is being active in building "destinations" for frequent travelers in several locations and I'm happy no matter which location works for you. Recently I had the pleasure of hosting nearly 40 FTers to hear the history of FT and as a result I re-discovered some history of FT and will use it here. I totally appreciate and understand the current comparisons and on a positive note, accept the challenge that you and many others want milepoint to always be better.

    So, let's take a look at some of your observations—that there are too many countries and not enough content ... yet. Can't say I disagree about the content but I'd like to put it into context. For instance, FlyerTalk started in Oct. 1995, by March 2002, it was 6 1/2 years old. That's right, 6 1/2 years old. milepoint is but a mere two months old. But, let's compare. Here is a link to the Wayback Machine which captures snapshots of the web in the past. In March 2002, when FlyerTalk was 6 1/2 years old. You'll find that Destination Travel had 32 different country/region forums. milepoint currently has but 12. So if you have a concern that milepoint "generally cover too many countries", note that we have only have 37% of the countries in forum totals than FT had after 6 1/2 years so I'm not sure that we have too many countries, we have tried to make the forum index much simpler and search work much better and it seems to resonate very well with members who are not comparing forums.

    As for content itself. If you'll look at the link to the Wayback Machine, after 6 1/2 years, FlyerTalk had roughly 4,052 posts for Destination Travel. Currently after roughly two months, milepoint has 5,464 posts for Destination Travel. That statistic seems to indicate that milepoint has roughly 35% more Destination Travel content after roughly two months, than FlyerTalk had after roughly 6 1/2 years.

    Now, I really hate these comparisons because we could easily slide into other more specific comparisons and I really don't think there is any need for that. When you look at the surface and there are no "social" threads in Destination Travel, it would appear that we have a few things going for us and are off to a fairly positive start, especially when you consider just how much competition there is in today's travel forum world.

    Could I ask just two things and I do this easily knowing you've always been a reasonable guy with me. 1) Keep the attention on milepoint to succeed. I know there are great expectations and nothing wrong with that, but let's be reasonable and also keep in context that in our very short life, we do have some things to be quite proud of. 2) Let a good farmer, when you see any wheat/chaff ratio out of wack, plant a plug of wheat for us even if it is just one. Eventually and it will be far before our 6 1/2 years, we'll have enough wheat that even when you account for a certain amount of chaff, we'll be able to say we planted a very good crop.

    Again, I totally understand the high expectations and only hope that in perspective ... "you (milepoint) know, you're not doing too bad after just two months, here's another post of good content, I hope it helps you out".
     
  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well, I think I'm goign to throw in my 2 cents, primarily because I sort of share some of the same sentiment as the OP.

    My general view is that the site in general has too many sections, but that cannot be avoided because of the nature of the site itself and the audience -- some people couldn't care less for JAL while others don't care for AA, etc.

    But regardless of that particular subset of people, there are sections that need "beefing up" to make them attractive, otherwise you'll have 1-2 relatively uninteresting threads there a week (if that) and they'll just stagnate. We had a similar discussion in the Luxury Hotels section... problem is that you'll see people go on a fantastic trip and end up in an SPG Cat 7 resort in some exotic locale, but all the relevant information about the trip will end up either under Trip Reports or the SPG section, with the Luxury Hotels section ending up neglected.

    I think the destination sections suffers a similar fate, and perhaps the best solution would be to "volunteer" (recruit) some local or well travelled people from the site that are familiar with the area to beef up the content and offer insights into some of these places in the interest of drumming up interest. Something is already stirring in the New York and DC sections, but I think more needs to be done -- for example that flood in Georgetown was big news and would have affected anybody traveling to the area, yet nothing was posted anywhere about it, not even in the DC section.

    But I agree with you that at the end of the day the user community is primarily responsible for the content, so maybe it's time some of us rolled up our sleeves and started planting. I guess we'll see how that goes. :)
     
  4. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    Randy, are you counting in your content count for destination travel all the "Nile Guide" auto-posts? I understand why Nile Guide was put there initially, but how about cutting off the feed for a while and seeing if that encourages the membership to contribute more instead. I just get overwhelmed by these Nile Guide threads filling up the forums and it discourages me from posting, although maybe I'm the only one.
     
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  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I largely share your sentiments about the Nile Guide articles, which seem to generate few responses on MP. However, a lot of the titles are potentially interesting as travel magazine articles and I could see myself reading them when planning a trip, but not when wanting to engage in the sort of interactive discussions that MP encourages in threads and certainly not when attempting to help others by recalling my own travel experiences.

    I wonder whether the Nile Guide articles could be placed now in newly-created subfora for them in each of the appropriate fora. Then they would still be here and available without disturbing the unique "flow" of interaction on MP or seeming to overwhelm some fora and thus discouraging contributions from MP members.
     
  6. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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  7. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    OK, you busted me, I got caught! So, I've now taken the Nile Guide stats out AND as it turns out, milepoint in its first two months now only has 26% more posts in Destination Travel than FlyerTalk has in its first 6 1/2 years. As for Nile Guide. As you might know, it has noted to be a test and in fact we do not feature it in all our Destination Travel forums. I did notice a few things in researching this for an answer ... it actually gets read. I found no Nile Guide post which did not have any reads and in several cases, members have "liked" the content, in fact it has more than 50 "likes". And it seems some members interact with the information. For instance, this recent post has been responded to my three different members so far and read over 50 times.

    When we started with no posts on milepoint, the reason for Nile Guide is two-fold, a test application of a great piece of technology and as well, we needed something to stimulate conversations. When opened, Nile Guide made up 100% of our Destination Travel information, today after just two months it is only 6.6% and as we grow, it will likely fall down to 1% or less. Is that a problem? I confess to having read a few contributions by Nile Guide and actually liked the complement. And it appears others do as well. Now, having said that, here's two additional observations: 1) I looked at the California forum which has Nile Guide and Hawaii which does not. Looking at just member contributions in both, date stamped they are within 3 threads apart of members contributions over a period of time. That's not a lot of difference when trying to analyze if Nile Guide stiffles new posts by members as it does you. So I see a toss up, perhaps subject to more testing? 2) Once our software platform releases to us a robust Ignore function, then you'd be able to personally Ignore those posts if you wish. I hope you can see some of the wisdom in this solution since by removing them to see if members will post more, we sort of deny all those who currently read them and again, looking at the actual usage stats, they do get read.

    Always looking to listen and always looking to research and find solutions personal to our members. Now about the 26% more Destination Travel content on milepoint in two months vs. 6 1/2 years on FlyerTalk ... maybe a fist bump at least? Just funnin with you—you've always been fair and kind to me and that makes a good day for me. Thanks for the observation, this really helps us to look at things we may just miss when we are looking at other things.
     
  8. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    That's actually a penciled in note on a larger topic we've been researching lately. It stems from some observations that some of the social threads (counting, three-word, etc.) in Off Topic tend to disuade some members from using and/or posting in that forum. We really don't want to make a close in decision without considering the larger puzzle, and this is but one of those topics which has similarities in other areas of milepoint. Sure, we can knee-jerk any of this, but the fact reamins, we're building milepoint for the next 20 years, not just for tomorrow and as such, we're not in the remodel business—take our time, compare implications throughout the entire website and consider it future growth. Glad that your thoughts are akin to some things we have noticed and have put to pencil.
     
  9. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    Yes, the 26% more posts is a definite fist bump, that is good!
     
  10. taiwaned
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    taiwaned Silver Member

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    But Randy, if you throw enouogh garbage at the wall, eventually you will find something still of value. Statistically, there should be a post that Nile Guide posts that has some value but not most.

    When you say they actually read it, how do you know. I have accidently opened a few Niles Guide posts. Doesn't mean one enjoyed it, thought it added to the value of the forum.
     
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  11. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    Surprisingly came across my first Nile Guide post last night - opened it out of interest, did not mind it, enjoyed the photos; did not continue on reading the full article.
     
  12. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    The lack of participation in Destination Travel is blamed in part for the newly created threads or topics are not showing up on MP's front or forum page's right hand column ... is this something that can be fixed? Thank you :)
     
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