Posted by MilwVon on June 08, 2013
I find myself pondering some of the recent changes and content that is flooding in from sources that seem to make me feel a disconnect with IgoUgo.
The change of de-emphasizing journals by reducing the award points for those earning "Best Of" seems to have been the first indication that well thought out quality travel stories are no longer the focus here.
As someone who works very hard at building and TELLING the story, the change seems to smack down the value of what it is I am attempting to do. That said, I will continue to go about my merry way, as I believe the content provided in journals will have a more impactful role in this site, even if the powers that be at IgoUgo don't realized it (yet).
Posting a bunch of disconnected reviews, searchable via a search engine on the internet, does not seem to really provide what I come to IgoUgo to find. Again, as a two-way user, I also come here to find ideas about trips I'm considering or places I want to go. The lack of connection of reviews to such stories, creates a vacuum in my opinion.
Most recently, there has been a flood of "reviews" all for Hawaii, that are in my opinion just internet clutter. They junk up this site with substandard material and distract from the other high quality content being provided by longtime, loyal IgoUgo community members. One such poster has the IgoUgo name "famtrip" while another indicates in her profile that she is a "Cruise consultant for Travelocity Cruises". (FYI for those who don't know, IgoUgo became part of the Travelocity family in 2006.)
To see what I'm talking about, check out this Hawaiian resort's review listing . . . http://www.igougo.com/lodging-reviews-b189194-Maui-Makena_Beach_and_Golf_Resort.html .
My last thought is on the issue of "quality" and the recognition provided to "Best Of" submissions. For the life of me, I do not know how something can be considered exemplary without the author providing at least a single photo. If you want to provide something of value to the reader, photos help tell the story, better than what 200+ words can.
I sincerely hope this commentary does not get me kicked out of the community, but I really felt it necessary to highlight how the site feels like it is continuing to evolve . . . and not necessarily in a good way.
Best wishes to all,
Reply by phileasfogg on June 09, 2013
I've just had a look at that 'review' you'd linked to, Von, and I see what you mean. Sadly, I've not had the time - for a long time now - to read as many journals as I'd like to, and I invariably end up reading reviews or stories if they're written by people I already know write well. This was quite shocking - it's obviously (at least to me) self-promotional, presented in a way to make it appear (to the naive, possibly) an actual user experience. Certainly something I'd expect IgoUgo to question, if not delete.
I too would like to know which IgoUgo are headed. I can understand that business models change, but it would be good - since guide members are the ones providing all the content for the site - to give us some idea of what is in store for us. Like you, I will go on, regardless, but it would be nice to know, anyway.
Incidentally, I don't see the need to change the rules regarding 'Best of' entries or journals. In all the years I've written for IgoUgo, only one journal of mine didn't get an IgoUgo pick - a Paris one, because I didn't have a single photo (my camera got stolen the first day in town, and this was long before we had phones with cameras). That was the rule back then: a journal had to have at least five photos to qualify for a 'Best of IgoUgo'. I hated that I didn't have any Paris photos, but I didn't mind not getting those extra points. Rules are rules. I wonder why that particular rule was changed...
Reply by juliejaynakStaff on June 11, 2013
First, we'd like to clarify that IgoUgo is still committed to the integrity of our content. In fact these reviews are validated and are written from people who actually visited the destination and properties - not from some writers who researched online and compiled these reviews.
They happen to be Travelocity call center employees (IgoUgo is owned by Travelocity) that specialize in certain destinations, and visited Hawaii to get more acquainted with several properties that are located there. It is a rigorous trip and the intent is to educate these travel professionals by giving them extensive tours and insight. They are seasoned travel professionals, but we do recognize that not all of them are as sophisticated writers as some of our long time members.
However, their reviews are still valuable to many of our members â€“ after all we get hundreds of thousands of members visiting IgoUgo on a monthly basis and for some, a quick snapshot of a property review is just what they are looking for. We believe that reviews and journals can symbiotically co-exist and that Users who want to seek more details and color will naturally gravitate to journals.
And lastly, photos are strongly encouraged in terms of garnering the "Best Of" status, but there are also plenty of extremely good and descriptive writers who have been with us for quite some time who may or may not have taken photos/attached them with their reviews. We don't want to alienate these members either. We hope this clears up any concern over any lax in quality you may be perceiving, and look forward to continuing to publish some of the best member-written travel content on the internet. Thank you.
Reply by MilwVon on June 12, 2013
Julie thanks for the reassurance that IgoUgo sees journals "co-existing" with reviews. Not the glowing endorsement I had hoped for, but it will have to do.
And while I appreciate your response in providing IgoUgo's position on the reviews in question, I really think you are missing the potential issue.
Providing content and "reviews" based on a fam trip by an industry person who "visited" various hotels and destinations with the apparent intent of writing content/reviews, seems to be rather jaded and not necessarily unbiased. Further, how much real value is a "visit" of a hotel if the author has not actually stayed at or received services from the property in question? One of the posters I noted wrote 40+ reviews in just one day. How many days of travel did it take for them to breeze through those 40 properties?
Bottom line for me is that it is not as much about being a "sophisticated writer" as it is about being unbiased and objective. As a reader and frequent user of content on this site, I will now have to read with a critical eye (and additional research) as to whether or not a review had been provided by an actual guest or user . . . or just someone from within the travel industry writing a marketing piece on behalf of a destination supplier.
Lastly, the photo conversation really doesn't matter. I recognize that the site does not belong to the volunteers and therefore, we abide by the rules set forth by staff.
Reply by phileasfogg on June 12, 2013
Thank you, Julie, for the response. I do agree with Von that 'sophisticated writing' is not what I'm really looking at when I'm reading journals to try and assess whether a hotel, restaurant, etc is worth my time and money - rather, I'm looking for an unbiased opinion. That, sadly, is often missing when it comes to a fam trip. Not because the reviewers themselves are biased (though that may be the case sometimes), but because the place being reviewed, aware that they are up for review, may put their all into serving up a great experience. I've seen that happen several times in restaurants - I've had to wait 45 minutes for an appetiser, another half an hour for a main course, in an otherwise nearly-empty restaurant, just because the staff were focussing completely on falling all over themselves serving a person at a nearby table, obviously doing a review.
Anyway, I hope that was not the case in the Hawaii review in question!
500 words or less