We have nearly two decades of web-based travel information and it has always been a tricky situation.
If we are seeking greater clarity, then we should look at this from multiple points of view. Visitors often have difficulties in getting tips that are relevant. Business owners either do not know or are charged to update information online. And rarely do locals have a say in how local businesses are presented online official tourism portals.
Speaking as one who has hosted a website for 20 years, I don’t think we’ve had the proper conversations — warts-and-all — that acknowledge the challenge of connecting locals and visitors in ways that provide mutual benefits.
The conversation that we should have — and which the hangouts are organized to initiate — is one that takes a candid look across the social web, specifically how rating and review sites are or are not working for visitors, locals and entrepreneurs.
Peer-to-peer sites change the equation in that anonymity begins to disappear as not only are the businesses rated but so are the reviewers. It’s an interesting development to see TripAdvisor reviews filtered by one’s Facebook contacts, but certainly this is just the beginning.
We encourage friends to check out how their local communities are presented and whether the review sites do an adequate job of informing visitors of things to do, places to stay and where to eat. Travel – and in particular responsible travel – requires constructive criticism. These hangouts are intended to provide some needed tips for locals and visitors alike as we navigate peer reviewed sites together.
Those interested in appearing on camera are asked to download the Google+ hangout plug-ins (if necessary) and to test this out beforehand. Please let Ron know ahead of time if would like to join on on screen. Everyone is welcome to provide specific examples via the individual event pages on Google+ or via Twitter by including @ronmader in your tweet.