Sam/Peter, i was in an internet cafe today in ottawa and just had a brain storm of an idea you guys could incorporate into the website - how about a page related to each country where TPer's could recommend places to stay/visit/things to do and resources e.g. internet cafes based upon their experience of them and have a rating system. Its just i thought that 'pressecafe' in ottawa was a good place and you TPers should all be let know about it.
let me have your thoughts on it !
Hmm, let me put in my two penn'orth..
Over at the Travel Site Directory, there's a link to a website that lists cybercafes around the world. Personally, i am satisfied with the status quo. I often randomly visit other travel websites with a PtoP presence and i quite like the fact that Travellerspoint doesnt attempt to be one thing too many. As an example, compare it with bootsnall(a travelweb) - it positions itself as " the ultimate resource for independent traveller". To be fair, it covers almost everything relevant to a traveller but it also means an overload of information and my, its really messy.
As for allocating a space to let TPers do their own recommendations, i worry that we are opening a can of worms here because i've seen people joining the site and straightaway selling their wares in the forum. To quote a sentence from JMJimmy in another thread: "Those volunteers that are most knowledgable tend to burn out and head elsewhere because the volume of people goes beyond their ability to help or they simply get tired of constantly giving." At present, i see that there's already a group of active members dishing out advices in the forum and i'm afraid doing so will add unnecessary "workload" and put them off completely.
And there's also those behind-the-scene travel helpers.
Perhaps some time in the future Sam/Pete can expand on this idea and work out a system somewhat similar to auction sites whereby sellers( in this case, e travel helpers) will be given testimonials by travellers when assisting them with their queries.
Hi Smythy and Jared,
Both very good points!
First, regarding the idea. We actually already have something like this, although I admit, it's a lot less visible than the forum. If you go to the different destination travel guides (accessible via the DESTINATIONS link at the top of the page), there's a space about half way down each specific countries' page where members can leave comments, suggestions and tips on that country and what they did/didn't like about it, or just about places they visited etc. The idea is to let the comments grow a little and then tie it in a bit more with some other ideas we have. One reason we have left it a little in the dark is that this kind of posting is pretty open to abuse (like for example forum posting is with spammers, tour operators etc) and needs to be moderated actively if it's more visible. Ultimately, the destination guides are a starting point to gain different information on a specific country and will link through to resources, whether travel helpers, flags, maps, links, accommodation or other destination specific products, photography (this is all already there) and at some stage forum posts that are specific for that country as well as the soon to be launched travel blog entries that are country specific.
The problem that you run into quite quickly when trying to cover a lot of different products and topics is navigation (bootsnall is a good example I think) as well as user interactivity dropping due to the site as a whole getting a cluttered feeling and a lot of people not knowing where to start (this is my/our opinion only of course).
Jared, your idea with regards to travel helpers getting testimonials is a good one. We are testing with the 'rating' service in the forum and once we feel we have a good grasp of this we'll be tying in rating type systems to several different areas of the site. That way, advice from a highly ranked member (rankings probably be built through the travel help and forum) would feature more prominently (for example for country specific information like accommodation suggestions or internet cafes) and advice from non ranked members would be ranked lowly, or subject to approval before going live....
Anyway, that's a broad gest of some of the ideas we have. Obviously with more members, the need for a quality assurance method grows quickly so this will be one of the high priorities for 2005
[ Edit: Touched up last sentence... ]