Ah, if only we could all live the life of a professional travel writer, gallivanting around the globe. But, how is the growth of online travel advice sites like TripAdvisor impacting on travel writers and their profession?
We caught up with Australian travel and food writer, Lisa Perkovic, to find out.
Do you think the proliferation of travel advice sites like TripAdvisor which has some 60 million unique monthly visitors every month, undermining the need for professional travel writers?
TripAdvisor is definitely changing the way people become informed about travel experiences. I think it has affected the role of the travel agent more significantly because people read travel articles to become inspired. Travel writers on the other hand craft stories out of their experiences; they provide background information on a place, what has happened there in the past and how that influences the present. TripAdvisor reviews tend to be a little more focused on the here and now and what that person experienced at that moment.
As a professional travel writer, do you keep in mind the information people are receiving on sites like TripAdvisor when writing?
There’s definitely less space for critical travel articles due to the proliferation of online sites. Increasingly, editors are looking for articles that provide an overview of a destination: all the activities, experiences, places to eat that a traveller needs to know about. This means travel writers are being used more for our expertise on an area than our experiences there.
Critics of all types, from film to food to travel, are being challenged by amateurs online. Do you think the traditional idea of a ‘critic’ is dead?
I definitely think the term ‘critic’ is evolving. Anyone can have an opinion and now there’s plenty of online space for that opinion to be expressed. However, travel and food writers are expected to have the expertise and knowledge to make an informed judgment. We should know what hotels in the world offer a certain service or where a cooking method has been used before. We should understand things like the history behind a trend, the major players, and so forth.
Do you use TripAdvisor or other online travel sites?
I definitely use TripAdvisor when I’m planning a trip to research attractions and places to eat. Travel writers don’t have the resources to spend months in one destination trying everything, so it helps us to hit the ground running and streamline our approach. I usually have a list of restaurants to try and hotels to inspect before I arrive, and some of those recommendations will be from online sources.
What other sites would you recommend?
Online communities such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree are great if you’re going somewhere different, like Montenegro or Albania, and there’s not a lot of published information available.
To check out Lisa’s work, visit her blog.