Why More Trip Reports are Usually Not Posted

“P ersonally I find most ‘trip reports’ that only focus on the airport lounges, airplane seat, food, and big chain hotels pretty boring. The destination is much more important to me. The F or even C seat on airline X is pretty much the same whatever the route. Same with lounges. And generic big chain hotels. But I guess there must be people out there who do care about that sort of thing for some reason.”

This comment — which was posted here by FlyerTalk member glennaa11 — is one of many which I read on FlyerTalk, Milepoint, and in the comments sections of weblogs…

…including The Gate — and this is my attempt at a response to glennaa11, based upon my experience.

Whenever I post an article here at The Gate, I attempt to determine what you want to read — suggestions from you are always welcome, by the way. Sometimes it is the big news of the day. Sometimes it is about frequent travel loyalty program miles and points. Sometimes it is an offer from which you might benefit. Sometimes it is a weather report for a travel alert. Sometimes it is simply something which happens to be on my mind…

…and sometimes it is a trip report or a review of a place where I visited or experienced.

Of all of the types of articles which I write, the trip report or review consumes the most time to prepare — and yet typically does not garner the amount of views which other types of articles receive.

Not counting the actual experience or photographing it — or any technical glitches which I encounter from time to time — time and effort are needed to prepare for articles pertaining to trip reports and reviews, as they require:

  • Sorting through the literally hundreds of photographs to select the best and most appropriate ones for the article
  • Cropping each of the photographs so that they fit within the space of the article without slowing it down when you read it
  • Applying adjustments to the photographs whenever necessary to compensate for any anomalies which may have occurred at the time the photograph was taken
  • Adding the photographs to the media library within WordPress, which is the application software platform which powers The Gate — and that can at times be tedious, depending on the Internet connection and how many photographs are being uploaded
  • Writing the article itself — usually with an attempt at creativity so that you do not find it boring
  • Researching and posting links to articles which are related to the topic about which I am writing
  • Checking information posted as fact — such as statistics or historical data — and that often entails checking multiple sources
  • Placing the photographs within the most appropriate sections of the article
  • Adding captions to the photographs
  • Formatting the article — such as adding subheadings, bulleted items, or stylizing certain words with color, bolding or italicizing as several examples
  • Proofreading the article — and mistakes still slip by regardless, to my chagrin
  • Posting it to The Gate and BoardingArea, which is no more than the click of the Publish button

 

An article containing a trip report or review can take several hours to compose and post from start to finish, as I do not believe in “slapping together” an article just for the sake of posting it.

Curious about the statistics from within WordPress itself — which are admittedly not the the most reliable — I revised the list of the top 50 articles of all time posted at The Gate in terms of views; and while there are a few reviews sprinkled about in several places throughout the list, the only trip report of an actual destination which appears on the list is Review: At The Top, Burj Khalifa in Dubai — and Why You Should Avoid the Premium Experience

…so here I am, having traveled to at least 20 countries within the past ten months with literally thousands of photographs — from which I first must select — waiting to be shown. Waiting “on deck” are trip reports to still be written of many places — including but not limited to the following:

  • The Demilitarized Zone separating South Korea from North Korea
  • The Karnak Temple in Luxor
  • Matsieng Footprints in Botswana
  • The fountains of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates
  • Knowth in Ireland
  • A visit to Katse Dam in Lesotho
  • Palacio Real de Madrid in Spain
  • Wadi Shab in Oman
  • A stroll along the Bund in Shanghai
  • The Feira de Artesanato, Flores y Gastronomia de Maputo in Mozambique
  • The sun setting over Manila Bay
  • The Cradle of Humanity in South Africa
  • The Jewish Museum and Raoul Wallenberg Park in Budapest
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
  • Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul
  • The Staten Island Ferry in New York
  • A day in Bahrain
  • More animal sightings from a safari in Kenya

 

…and that does not include additional flights, car rentals and hotel rooms on which I have yet to report; plus I have trip reports from other destinations around the world over recent years, including but not limited to the Bahamas, Denmark, Argentina, Slovenia, Malaysia and France.

“Think of this as writing a diary”, reader Joey posted in the comments of this article I wrote last year about how travel “blogging” is not easy. That — combined with the following statement which was sent to me via e-mail message from a person who will remain anonymous…

“I’ve always thought it was unhealthy for any blogger to break down their blog posts in a financial contribution manner as it tends to desensitize the reason why most bloggers get into having a blog.”

…are words of advice to which I strive to adhere daily. As I have stated multiple times in the past, revenue for The Gate is solely dependent on views. You might have noticed that there is no affiliate links or credit card offers here — and I have never had an interest in even considering the pursuit of revenue tied to affiliate links or credit cards…

…but I also try to write with you in mind — if only because The Gate is publicly posted at BoardingArea and not simply just a personal weblog for me. The natural tendency is to post more of what gets the most views — and it can be difficult to resist that at times — but if you are part of the subset of readers of The Gate who enjoys the pure trip report written by me, you are the reason why I continue to post those trip reports. My goal is to ensure that the information I post is useful to you — if not at least entertaining.

There are “bloggers” who are indeed doing this solely for the money. Although it is nice to earn revenue for doing something I enjoy — in fact, I believe everyone should earn a living doing something they enjoy instead of working at a job with which they are not happy — writing The Gate solely for money is simply not me as a person.

Next month, The Gate will celebrate its ninth anniversary; and you can count on more trip reports and reviews to be posted by me for as long as The Gate continues its run…

…but although there are exceptions to the following statement, my experience, glennaa11, is that reviews on airport lounges, airplane seats, food, and hotel properties of major lodging chain hotels typically get more views than pure trip reports of destinations — and discussions with other “bloggers” and their experiences tend to confirm it. Aspirational experiences of gourmet food, suites and business class seats — as well as ways to travel for “free” or as close to free as possible — are what people are typically interested in reading. “Click-bait” headlines bring in more readers as well — a practice which I generally eschew but have done on occasion; and never with the purposeful intent to mislead you.

With some exceptions, it is simply human nature to be drawn to articles with “click-bait” headlines laced with controversy, sex, aspirational experiences typically not enjoyed by the “common folk”, and how to beat the system than to be drawn to trip reports — but perhaps I am incorrect.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

16 thoughts on “Why More Trip Reports are Usually Not Posted”

  1. Christian says:

    I think your trip reports are your best stuff. You cover a lot of places that others never would.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am not sure I would go that far, Christian. There are still many trip reports I would like to write of places to which I still have not been but others have.

      Thank you so much for posting that comment.

  2. Lindy says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Christian. Your trip reports are EXCELLENT. Some of the best I’ve read.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you so much for posting your thoughts, Lindy. I truly appreciate it.

  3. Dom says:

    I wish your posts contained more credit card links, more champagne namechecks and more pictures of First Class seats…not!!!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Well, let’s see, Dom

      I do not — and have never been — affiliated with credit cards of any type. Strike one…NOT!

      I do not — and never have — consumed alcoholic beverages of any kind. Perhaps grudgingly a sip for a holiday; but otherwise no — so no champagne name checks unless we count the mention of your name above. Strike two…NOT!

      More photographs of first class seats — no; but I do have upcoming trip reports of suite upgrades at hotels.

      Uh, oh — could that count as a strike three?!?

  4. Jerry says:

    Thank you Brian for staying true, and hope you get rewarded with views 🙂

    I appreciate your reports as well, especially the Etihad Economy reports recently.
    It’s something you don’t see from other BA bloggers (OMG, travel in Economy!!) and no affiliate links are obviously awesome (sick of every BA blog starting with disclosure, then insert CC mid-way then again at the end)

    I personally want more airline trip reports than Destination reports (since those can come from TripAdvisor, WikiVoyage and etc… )

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I plan to fulfill that request for more airline trip reports, Jerry.

      That includes my flight on China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai to New York; and yes, that is while I was seated in the Economy Class cabin. At close to 15 hours, that may have qualified as the longest flight I have ever taken.

      I have at least another flight on Gulf Air on tap as well — seated in the economy class cabin.

      I have not reported on domestic flights operated by Delta Air Lines; but perhaps I should — although I was seated in the (gasp!) Economy Comfort or Comfort Plus cabin.

      Does that disqualify me?!?

      Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts, Jerry.

  5. Joey says:

    Please write about your day in Bahrain. The KLM 787 inaugural is coming up in October and I’m seriously thinking of booking it AMS-AUH-BAH. I have transited in BAH a few times when flying Gulf Air but I have never actually gone outside the airport.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I will, Joey.

      If you do decide to stay in Bahrain, I personally would recommend not spending more than 24 hours there, as it is considered more of a business destination than a tourist destination — and I was there on a free layover, so the airfare was not one penny more for staying overnight there.

      Be aware that Bahrain can be expensive…

  6. Captain Kirk says:

    I agree with you Brian. There is one thing I do like about blog posts regarding airline lounges is when I read one that includes a United Club. While it seems all travel bloggers love to complain about the same old stuff (crowding, snacks, drinks, etc, etc, etc…) I just love to see pictures and descriptions about totally abysmal United Clubs around the country. I think United has upgraded and refurbished many of them but I remember reading a post about a year ago where a traveler posted pics of leather chairs with the stuffing showing, tables and other wood furniture that had been damaged pretty badly by bags and feet, really lame snacks, and during peak times not being able to find a seat. For $600+ I don’t think those folks got their money’s worth.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I do not remember the last time I was in a United Club, Captain Kirk.

      Confession time: I sometimes get self-conscious about taking photographs in a place like a lounge, as some people tend to get suspicious or curious as to why I am doing that…

      …and just when I think I am alone or have a view of the lounge with no one in it, out pops someone — usually the person who manages the lounge — and gets initially startled by the camera lens pointing his or her way. Sometimes the reaction is one of those “you are weird” looks aimed in my direction.

      Regardless, I have some hotel lounge reviews on queue, waiting to be written — and I have already posted some reports of airport and hotel lounges over the years.

      Here are a couple of recent articles which may not be true reviews of Delta Sky Clubs; but they do have some details:

      http://thegate.boardingarea.com/vignettes-delta-sky-club-new-york/

      http://thegate.boardingarea.com/on-my-way-to-kenya-delta-sky-club-lounge-in-atlanta/

  7. Dylna says:

    I visit mostly for the trip reports. I will agree though that I don’t necessarily need every detail of how the plating of the food was done or which wines were offered. I tend to prefer reports that reflect things that are different than normal, or of interest when traveling.

    I write fairly no-nonsense trip reports at FlyerTalk about my business travels, which are different than most as they reflect how to maximize time while traveling for work (rather than being about aspirational trips), and still finding some time to see the sights. For example, http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1692999-ba-eurostar-2-week-business-trip-phx-lhr-dub-lhr-edi-lcy-dub-lhr-phx.html is my latest.

    I think you should decide what is important to you about your trips and focus on that, rather than worrying about creating perfect trip reports that follow the formula of say SFO777 or OneMileAtATime. For example, in my reports, I don’t care about cropping or perfecting photos, or giving a consistent set of details each time. Sometimes I’ll even post a blurry picture if I think it’s the best thing I have to reflect the moment, or skip details that are clearly the same as almost every other trip report out there about an experience. This is in part because I’m not going to stop to take the time to create a perfect picture of every moment of a trip, or I won’t have time for me on my trips. 🙂 I also tend to mix in a lot of photos of sights I see, even if I don’t really talk about those places much, it helps show what the experience was like without having to explain it in more detail than most people might want to read.

    Whatever you decide to do, I’m sure I’ll continue reading, but I guess what I’m saying is, if you would enjoy writing less polished trip reports so you could share them more efficiently, why not? There’s no rule book that says what a trip report must be!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Excellent thoughts and advice — as well as trip reports on your part — Dylna; and thank you for posting a link to one of them.

      Confession time: years before The Gate was launched, I posted exactly one trip report in the Trip Reports forum on FlyerTalk — and that was at a time when the capability to post photographs was not yet implemented. In fact, it was posted within a year prior to when the vBulletin bulletin board software powered FlyerTalk on April 1, 2004.

      Sadly, I never completed that trip report — and that has bothered me; but even back then without the photographs, it seemed quite time-consuming ensuring that my experiences and the pertinent information were included.

      Fellow FlyerTalk members posted great reviews of it; and yet I still feel like I let them down.

      As for me, I consider myself a professional photographer — although my Hasselblad equipment has sadly been collecting dust because I never upgraded my cameras to the digital age — and quality photographs are important to me…

      …but I have used blurred photographs myself — such as in this article where a cheetah suddenly bounded for its prey without any warning:

      http://thegate.boardingarea.com/cheetah-successfully-hunts-prey-photographic-chronology/

      Because trip reports and reviews are highly subjective, I sometimes tend to post photographs without explanation as well so that the reader may arrive at his or her own conclusion as to the interpretation of the photograph. In my opinion, that helps to personalize the reading experience of the trip report.

      As for reviews of aspirational trips, they tend to seem to be similar to each other after a while. For me, the best reviews and trip reports of aspirational trips tend to be written by those people who rarely experience them — or experience them for the first time.

      Perhaps it is a personality flaw of mine, Dylna; but I would not enjoy intentionally writing a less-polished trip report, as I would feel like I am missing something which readers might find informative or entertaining.

      In fact, I feel like some of the trip reports I have already posted are not as good as what I intended — and I admit that I have no legitimate reason to feel that way…

      1. Dylan says:

        Hilarious that I typoed my own name. 🙂

        I too love photography, but if I stop to perfectly photograph everything then my time to get stuff done on my trips is cut short. Anyway, you’re of course free to do whatever you want.

        Your point about enjoying reports from newbies is true, as they have a very fresh perspective on the experience. In order to try to capture some of that, I try to provide just enough of the standard details to make a coherent report, and then emphasize the bulk of my report on things that I found to be new/different/unique/relevant compared to a normal trip. I don’t feel the need to comment on how the food was plated, or if they brought me enough to drink, unless it was out of the ordinary for example. 🙂

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          I commit typographical errors on my own name more often than I care to admit, Dylan — but not the way others do, which is usually “Brain”.

          That is the beauty of trip reports: there really is no wrong way to do them; and I do like the idea of varying how they are created from one trip report to the next.

          I guess I am the type of person who likes to attempt to provide as much information as possible — even if how the food was plated is not all that important to me…

          …and at other times, I simply like to let the photographs do all of the talking…

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