Hanna Orthodox Glatt Kosher restaurant Budapest
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

What if Airlines and Hotels Banned Bloggers Who Reviewed Their Products and Services?

“W hen John Golden of The Golden Dish went to eat at The Honey Paw restaurant in Portland, Maine, the owner gave him two options–he could eat at the restaurant or he could write about it–but not both”, according to this article written by Jeanne Marie Hoffman of Le Chic Geek. “Finding this ‘request’ odd, the food critic reviewed the restaurant anyway, giving it a very positive review.”

Golden wound up being banned from not only the restaurant he reviewed; but from all three restaurants owned and operated by the three owners, who indicated that they “were quite serious when we offered you the choice between dining at our restaurants and writing about them.”

That caused me to wonder: what if airlines and hotels banned bloggers who reviewed their products and services — whether the reviews were positive or negative?

Imagine if my reviews of being a passenger in the economy class airplanes operated by Etihad Airways — whether it was my first flight, my second flight or my third flight — resulted in the airline banning me from ever being a customer again.

Perhaps I should be banned from ever being a passenger on flights operated by Ryanair ever again due to posting reviews of my first flight and my second flight — even though articles which I have posted in the past have either mocked or skewered the airline and its chief executive officer for its tactics; but my experiences suggest to me that the airline is not nearly as bad as I thought. Perhaps Ryanair truly is improving the product and service which it offers its customers and that passengers may not have to worry about paying to use the toilet or only having one pilot operate each airplane in the future after all.

Maybe I should be banned from using Megabus ever again because I posted this trip report and this trip report. On second thought — perhaps I should do myself a favor and ban myself from ever using Megabus again.

I have even dabbled with a few restaurant reviews myself — such as this one at a delicatessen in Indianapolis and this one at a Kosher restaurant in Budapest — so perhaps I should be banned from those establishments as well.

Trip reports and views are amongst the most time-consuming articles of which to write. They require accuracy; as well as descriptive opinions to help transport the reader vicariously into the experience conveyed by the writer. Good trip reports and reviews help the reader either reach a decision as to whether or not to try the product or service on his or her own — or, at least, better prepare himself or herself for the experience.

I have a review which I have yet to write pertaining to a restaurant in which I dined with Michael W. of Michael W Travels. At the time this article was written, he has yet to post his review as well. We had virtually identical meals with the same service; but I will bet that our reviews will not be exactly the same once they are written and posted — and that is a good thing. No one trip report or review is absolute, as each one is based on subjectivity and circumstance — which is why one trip report or review could convey a completely different experience than another one pertaining to the same product or service.

Moreover, trip reports and reviews can also help the company about whose products or services are written. Good trip reports and reviews can educate management of a company on how to improve what products and services are offered to customers in order to get an edge on competitors.

Just about everyone I know who writes a weblog is backed up with trip reports and reviews. “And here I was a bit frustrated that I’m still months behind in getting these trip reports out”, Seth Miller of Wandering Aramean responded in the Comments section of this article he wrote pertaining to the old palaces in Seoul after I realized that we had just missed each other. “Looking forward to seeing yours as well.”

I am ashamed to say that I still have not written my trip report — even though I did review an authentic traditional hanok in which I stayed as a guest when I was in Seoul as part of my unintentional trip around the world. Why? Because I have at least 171 photographs of two palaces which I must go through and select, crop, and post in order in addition to writing about my experience — and as I already said, that consumes a lot of time.

From that unintentional trip around the world, I still have trip reports to write — with plenty of photographs — pertaining to Budapest, Dublin, Madrid, Manila, Shanghai and Seoul. I also still have trip reports to write — again, with plenty of photographs — from my travels to Kenya on safari and Oman. There are still flights and lodging experiences about which to write. I plan to eventually get to all of them and then sort them in a way where you can read the trip reports and reviews in chronological order; but creating an article from start to finish can take several hours — which I do not mind and actually enjoy doing…

…but the odd part is that trip reports do not attract as much views from readers — at least, by my experience — as articles pertaining to such topics as current events, offers, and contests and sweepstakes. This is despite my reading countless times from the Internet how original content is rarely posted on weblogs; and trip reports are usually the types of articles which will most likely contain original content.

I try not to use “click-bait” headlines even though they virtually guarantee increased readership; nor has there ever been any credit card affiliation offers posted at The Gate in its history. The only method of my earning anything from the articles I write and post here is when you click to read them — free of charge where you do not have to pay a penny. Advertising is what pays the bills here; and I am not the only person whose weblog has advertising as a sole source of income. Ric Garrido of Loyalty Traveler has explained the recent shift in editorial content in this discussion on FlyerTalk; and he has written countless reviews of hotel and resort properties.

Both Ric and I are proud of the fact that we are beholden to no one entity, which allows us to be as objective as possible when writing and posting trip reports and reviews. We had a long in-depth conversation as we walked down Las Vegas Boulevard this past September, which included the future of our weblogs — both of which will be nine years old this year. He cares as much about his readers as I do about mine; and we were trying to think of ways to further improve readership.

It is that objectivity which allows us to write what we believe are fair trip reports and reviews which you can trust when you read them — and from which companies who offer the products and services reviewed can learn and implement adjustments if so inclined…

…which leads me back to John Golden and the restaurant owners. Golden has every right to review any restaurant he chooses; and the restaurant owners can choose to issue — and adhere to — an ultimatum where they can deny service to a person for allegedly not keeping his word. I personally would find it difficult to patronize the restaurant after reading about this story — regardless of how great the food may be at the restaurant.

Remember Union Street Guest House in New York which had a clause where a $500.00 fine was “levied” on guests of any wedding party booked at the hotel who posted negative reviews on the Internet? Apparently, it was only a joke — but it led to approximately 3,000 bad reviews as a result.

Fortunately, most commercial entities — no matter how big or small — do not place those kinds of restrictions on reviewers; so you can look forward to more trip reports and reviews posted here at The Gate which are as objective as possible…

…and they will eventually be posted — albeit slowly; so I apologize in advance if I do not post them fast enough…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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