Some Concerns about Tips From The T-List

Tips From The T-List Banner

After three conferences with dedicated sites, the initiators of Tips from the T-List decided to start a more permanent site.

The site and its lay out need urgent attention imo!

  1. My main complaint is that the RSS feeds don’t work as they should: During a certain period of time they produced duplicate content. That has been taken care of in the meantime. The feeds are intentionally delayed. However to me it seems that the feeds are not added automatically with a delay of one or two days, while I believe they should. The time lag is so big the Blog loses momentum.
  2. Contributers to the site should be able to withdraw posts they deem less suited to publish over at Tips from the T-List.
  3. Contributers to the site should be able to edit posts. I understand the need of some over all editing of the site, but it is clear from looking at the site for some time now that the editors have very little time available for the editing;
  4. The navigation of the site needs attention, because it is not easy to wade through. I don’t like the difference between tabs and categories. Throughout the site there is no consistency.

All in all Tips From The T-List doesn’t take off as it should. Presently there are only 30 some travel related bloggers putting together their content. WiWiH has travel blogging as a lesser priority than its other activities and therefore was not chosen to act as a platform for the Tips from the T-List posse. Nevertheless WiWiH performs far better better imo. It gives you a clear overview of some travel blogging.The new startup Alltop’s Travel Alltop with currently 81 Blogs featured even gives a far better overview.

The income from the site

The initiators have announced that all income from the site goes to a good cause. I am glad they announced that. No fear anymore that they will earn some Adsense cents over my content. However I was not asked neither informed on beforehand that they would open up the site for advertising. Maybe I don’t like advertising at all….

The various agendas from Travel Bloggers

During ITB Berlin Bloggers summit it became apparent to me that the initiators of Tips From The T-List have their own limited area of interest, which is internet marketing for travel. I have a feeling that their main aim is to convince travel providers that they should listen to and engage travel bloggers as a marketing tool. There is nothing against that idea, but I am afraid that when one looks at the huge reservoir of thousands of Travel Bloggers, they forget they could make a far bigger Travel Community than Tips From the T-List is doing presently and consequently are losing big opportunities and huge momentum.

In my prior post I noted that Hotel Blogs Org, another Travel Bloggers aggregator presently seems to be hacked. I am sure the participants won’t like to be part of that. I wouldn’t. However Hotel Blogs seemed becoming a far better sharing tool than Tips From The T-List is at present.

Some Travel Bloggers don’t want to be part of Tips From The T-List because they are afraid they might jeopardize their Google ranking.

Some other Travel Bloggers don’t want to be part of Tips From The T-List, because direct competitors of them are behind the site.

It is my strong conviction that Blogging is sharing and not only sharing what you deem in your own commercial interest. I myself for instance have blogged about a fellow small hotel that blatantly had stolen the look and feel of the website of my own hotel. In another instance I have written about the opening of another hotel that is a direct competitor. A Blogger should be as impartial as possible without becoming impersonal.

Dear Friends can’t we finally bridge these gaps?

Finally we should reconsider its name: T-List
While every startup nowadays seems to reconsider its name, I suggest we reconsider T-List as a name for a posse of Travel Related Bloggers.

Create a Google alert for “T-list” and see what happens: All sorts of post are reported by Google:
Sh*t List
I don’t list
won’t list
didn’t list
can’t list
doesn’t list
weren’t’ list

All very negative.

Let’s go positive!

Maybe Travel Bloggers Posse could be a better name? Anybody a better idea?

Or should we just forget about the T-List and go on with TravelTwit.com solely?

19 thoughts on “Some Concerns about Tips From The T-List”

  1. Nice post. I agree with some of your concerns. I’m confused mostly about the purpose of the site. Right now, the website is glorified RSS feedreader fr T-List blogs. There’s also a bit of a lack of collaboration about it’s purpose.

    But I know the site is developed with good intent in the spare time of Phil and Stephen so I give them some slack. They’re still trying to figure out how to evolve the site into a meaningful place.

    The T-List website should serve as a launching pad for debate. There isn’t as much conversation among T-List members as in other categories or verticals. There’s a lot of monologue (at least the ones I read).

    I hope the site will become a place of unique content by T-List members. This way it will also serve as a platform for attracting new readers to our individual blogs. This is what the current objective appears to be.

    As far as the name T-List, I never liked the name but I’m afraid we’re stuck with it.

    Groetjes, William

  2. Thank You William, for taking the time to elope the anti spam measures here.

    Like most of my buddies I have upgraded you now to contributer here. Hopefully now you can comment without me having to moderate.

    I do believe in the good intent of Stephen, Jens and Phil and I also appreciate their lack of time, but I am also envious on the collaboration on the travel 2.0 platform of our Spanish Travel Bloggers friends (not that I can take part there because of the language).

    Therefore as a real Dutchman (we Dutch are known to be a bit direct) I may have put it a bit harsh and direct, but only with good intent and to get some attention and results, because results count.

    At the same time I echo some comments from Travel Bloggers who do not take part in Tips From the T-List for one or another reason.

    Finally the traveltwit experiment demonstrated clearly that we travel bloggers do communicate if it doesn’t take too much of our precious time> S it should be possible to have a platform. Nowadays I tend to check Traveltwit when starting the day, even before I check my e-mail.

    “Groetjes” likewise

  3. Happy Hotelier I do agree with a lot of your criticisms of Tips for the T-List site but at the same time I don’t like to be to critical of initiatives set up by others as I doubt I’d have the time or the IT knowledge to set up such a site.

    From my personal perspective the focus of internet marketing for travel on the T-List site is not in alignment with my business to consumer blog but I do appreciate that those who lead a project are probably going to have their own agenda. My blog is a marketing tool for my travel website so I can’t be scornful of the commercial considerations of others.

    Maybe the T-List is better to stay focused on the niche of internet travel marketing as it’s pretty hard to be all things to all travel bloggers?

    Although I do see more communication between travel bloggers as a worthy aim it’s also very time consuming. I can’t even keep up with what’s happening with travel bloggers on Twitter.

    I think that Travel Alltop is a very useful resource for travel bloggers to keep abreast of what other travel bloggers are blogging about and as a way for travel blog readers to scan for interesting posts without having to subscribe to several RSS feeds.

  4. Karen,

    Thank you for taking the time for this comment.

    Like you I wouldn’t have the time nor the knowledge to run it.

    I only notice they have the same problems time wise as you and I have and every other travel Blogger has.

    If Travel Alltop can collect 84 travel bloggers on one page why shouldn’t tips not try to achieve the same or something similar just because they have not much time?

    Some persons do not take part because they are afraid of adversely being connected with tips. See the Google ban discussion you and I were part of earlier.

    The charm of Traveltwit is that it enables you to quickly browse 3 or 4 pages of travel related twits including feeds of friends on a daily basis and on top of that to stay in contact with each other. It can safe you a lot of time.

    Another issue is that the T-List was started by Mathieu out of curiosity. Just to see what would happen. My point of view is the T-list is from nobody or from everybody related to the travel and hospitality business. Some people have thought I was trying to monopolize the T-List. Not true. Some people fear Tips are monopolizing the T-List. Like William said and you and I know: They don’t want to do that, but I say: They should not let their lack of time let the outside world think they are monopolizing.

    Finally: It is never my attention with criticism to harm anybody professionally or personally, but I strongly believe that one should utter criticism just to let the subject in question know. I know this is un-British, more a Dutch way of expressing oneself. Well I am proud to be Dutch:-) Moreover I like to share that aspect of my personality.

  5. Happy Hotlier I do think that one should voice concerns or criticisms, it’s more than it easy to let our people get on with doing things and sit back and pick holes in what they are doing.

    Speaking for myself I prefer to look at Travel Allrop or TraveTwits than the T-List site to keep my finger on the pulse. I like simple solutions that cut down on my every growing problem of information overload.

  6. Hi Guido,

    All your comments and concerns are completely valid. I’d like to address them in order:

    1. The site and its lay out need urgent attention imo!

    You’re right. When we rebuilt the site using WordPress we were really excited about the various plug-ins we could use to syndicate content into the TFTTL site and then re-feed it out based on category or tag. Our intention was to have it so that someone who was just interested in hotel blogs to subscribe to the “Hotel” rss feed and get a consolidated feed with all the hotel blog content in it. Alas, the plug in we used WPOMatic has been a great disappointment for us. It created duplicate content, took hours and hours to pull content in (if at all), and at one point almost killed the server. We have been frantically trying other plug-ins and have found FeedWordPress” which seems to be working much better now. We are in the process of re-adding everyone’s feeds back into the site. This should allow for a daily or even twice daily update to the site.

    2. Income from the Site

    We knew this would be an issue, which is why we didn’t put any adsense or other advertising. The only banners are for Microsoft, Chameleon Strategies (Jens Company), and Sentias (My Company) because we are currently footing the bill for all the development hosting and original printing of the book. Just for the record, Sentias has donated over $35K in services and $8K in printing for the TFTTL since November of 2007. We have generated $0 in revenue from this project. Trust me, we’re not doing this for the money. If we had, the project would have been done very differently and it probably would not have received the kind of support from the community that it has thus far.

    3. The Various Agendas of Travel Bloggers

    Firstly, the TFTTL wasn’t meant to be anything more then a one shot deal with the printing of the book for the Canada-e-connect conference in 2007. It has grown organically because of the support of the community and because bloggers like you continue to point out ways to make it better. The only agenda is keep the community engaged and collaborating. Whether or not TFTTL is doing it or some other platform is doing it, it doesn’t really matter, the point is that we are all working together to get important information out to the consumer and to the industry. I’m excited about being part of it, which is why my company continues to support the TFTTL initiative. The problem is that Sentias can’t continue to be the only one putting in resources and money into the project so we have to find sponsors who will find value in the TFTTL initiative and support it financially.

    4. Finally we should reconsider its name: T-List

    I definitely think it is time to consider a new name. The TFTTL and the T-List were spur of the moment names. Perhaps we should consider a contest of some sort or just ask the community to come up with something.

    In summary, I think this has been a really interesting and exciting project. I’ve had a chance to connect personally with you and many other bloggers and I feel a certain pride in the work we’ve done together. Bloggers tend to be a pretty critical bunch so I expect we’ll continue to face criticism moving forward, but I also think that by being critical we show our desire to make things better.

  7. Hi Guido,

    It is good to have a candid Dutch perspective on the Tips From the T-List site, and I fully agree the site needs some serious attention.

    In my opinion, the main issue is the RSS, it was not aggregating content correctly, and resulted in some strange duplication and errors in the post date.

    We have made some changes to the way that feeds are syndicated, and we have eliminated the duplication and date errors, and we agree, authors should retain full control of their posts, both deleting and adding. We will start a dialog to find the best practice for this. In the meantime, you should have rights with your Author account.

    We are aware of the potential for the original blog authors to loose Google Ranking if there is duplicate content, and we are working to ensure that this does not happen.

    As William said, the original intention of the site was to be a launching pad for discussion and dialog related to the travel and tourism industry. We are also hoping to attract original content from our members from conferences, as well as videos and photos from our events. This ‘live’ community aspect sets us apart! There is room to grow our community in different directions, and this planning would work best as a collaborative effort.

    As far as being exclusive to travel technology marketing, I would disagree. We have opened up the platform to all of those in the travel industry, we do have a number of hoteliers, DMOs, and other industry types and imo the more the merrier. We just need stronger recruitment, Claude from Les Explorers has started doing a great job in France. The only exception is that I personally don’t think that the T-List works well with consumer blogs (c2c) but business to consumer is great (b2c) as in Karen’s case.

    We currently are not making any income from our site. We have banners from those that contributed to the production of the book, conferences and website. There are no Google ads, nor will we try to monetize our members content without their consent. We are looking for support for the logistics and production of the book and conferences, as this can take hundreds of hours.

    I will initiate a dialog with all of our current editors and members, and hopefully we can come together and develop a resource that is open for the travel industry to use as a resource and to collaborate and have dialog.

    Thanks for getting this ball rolling,
    Phil

  8. Stephen and Phil

    I am very glad you took the time to explain your points of view and they are well taken and most appreciated. I completely forgot the printing costs. Not to speak of the travel costs involved..Good that you mention it.

    Personally I believe you should not exclude, but include the C 2 C and B 2 C areas, because they can deliver the rich content we all could thrive on and from.

    Let’s move on!

    Cheers!

    Guido

  9. Bonjour,

    Please find some thoughts.

    – like everybody involve in the T-List, I am busy with my personal work and priorities

    – Albert Barra and all the spanish peoples are runing very well the Turismo 2.0 web site (1 900 members). They use NING platform as a social media… but I can tell Albert and the board spend a lot of time in this project…ask Albert for some feedback and ideas…they just start to sell advertising in this network (adsense, banners, etc…)

    – “I will initiate a dialog with all of our current editors and members”, OK, PHIL, let’s go

    – can we avoid the jeopardize game ! we have Traveltwit, Tipsfromthetlist,Wiwih bloggers forum, our personal blog, our personnal RSS readers, our….and more…can’t work…

    Looking forward to hearing from everybody

    Best regards from sunny Marseille

    Claude

  10. Hi Guido,

    Thank you for pointing to me and Turismo 2.0

    I think the key is to create a Community more than just agregating RSS feeds. Just RSS feeds do not produce any value, I preffer going to the original source than going to the agregator. However agregating content is easy and don’t requires an extra effort to manage the site.

    The key of the success of Turismo 2.0 is the communication between a group of travel Bloggers and the efforts of each individual to promote the site with added value, extra content and dynamism.

    The other key of success has been the lack of commercial interest by the promoters. We did not want to make money with it, but just creating a participation platform, communication between members and all that was enough.

    I invited all of you, in fact I did several times in the past, to do something similar to Turismo 2.0 but english speaking travel bloggers seemed more focused on promoting their own blogs than creating conversation and added value. I understand that, but I think it is kind of egoistic.

    Its not just having “conversations about conversation” as Alex Bainbridge mentioned time ago, but just conversing.

    I am also positive that this will impact positively on the own travel blogs. Anyone who is interested in launching it is welcome to come over.

  11. @ Claude
    As always, you are hitting some nails on the head as we say here in The Netherlands. (I don’t know if there is an English equivalent for this saying).

    Albert did already aggregation with Travel In Blogs on the Pligg platform. Unfortunately it got messed up when he moved his stuff to another server. He told me he has no time to repair it.

    Merge with the Turismo 2.0 platform would be ideal. I am a member there, but the language problem takes too much time for me to get a full understanding how it works.

    WiWiH could be a communication platform, but Henri told me WiWiH’s priorities are elsewhere. The bloggers platform there is not working as I would like. On the other hand there are far more non nerds in the industry who are members of WiWiH. It is good that they see there are Travel Bloggers out there.

    And so on and so fort.

    BTW I hope to see Chris (Chrispitality) here on Friday. Maybe we can toss around some ideas.

    Even The Hague is sunny today!

    Cheers!

    Guido

  12. It seems we would like the functionality that was created back in 97 by slashdot.org (See its innovative moderation described on wikipedia)

    However it looks like we want the GUI and ease of use of the modern social networking platforms.

    Curious as how this discussion will proceed. (perhaps this should be moved to wiwih)

    In the mean time I will aggregate the RSS feeds I like via netvibes.

    regards, Bart

  13. I thought I would also leave a comment. Thanks Guido for getting the ball rolling. The Tips from the T-List project (as Stephen pointed out) started to bring the mostly excellent blogging content to the travel industry that still perceives blogging and the e-space as a big black hole. It took off faster than we all expected, actually we did not expect anything when we launched it at Canada-e-Connect in Vancouver last November. But this is OUR community, but we have to keep in mind that all in all we have invested over $50K in this project. But we are all passionate and believe in doing the right thing, that’s also why we decided to donate proceeds of sponsorships after expenses to the One Laptop per Child Charity (we could have chosen any charity, but this seemed to be the only one that also is leveraging technology to foster education – very aligned with thi project).
    We have received lots of interest from other global conferences to bring bloggers into the event (something we have started with Phocuswright and ITB), and was the first time many of us met face-to-face, which was very valuable and a great experience. Also the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), as well as other travel trade organizations such as the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), has been in discussions with us to partner with us to help grow tourism. I think we all share our content in the end to give back (and some to grow their businesses), but I think in the end, the T-List project can be a great vehicle to educate the travel industry, and that’s what gets me excited. BUT, this project will not succeed with everybody collaborating and being apart of the process. Not too long ago, Phil sent out an email to ask for country editors, I am working on partnerships and conferences, and Stephen is working on improving the website and technology. Henri (WIWIH) is a good friend, and we have been talking how we can collaborate. I also agree that the name Tips from the T-List) i not telling the story as it should – in the end this is the “Global Travel Blogging Community”…why don’t we look for suggestions from everybody to come up with something more suitable. I think this initiative is fantastic with lots of opportunity, but taking it to the next level it deserves, it requires the support of the entire travel blogging community. Again, thanks for starting this thread, as it is very timely!

  14. Thanks a lot for this comment Jens,

    However I am not sure what you mean with “This is OUR community”

    and what you mean with “this project will not succeed with everybody collaborating and being apart of the process”

    Since Mathieu Ouellet started this ball rolling there have been various initiatives to put communication between the various travel bloggers on a higher plan.

    Tips might lose momentum in the Bloggers community. That is all what I notice. If it loses momentum then other initiatives take over. Then your investment takes a longer recovery time, or, worse even, will not be recovered.

    Cheers!

  15. Guido, thanks for your reply. I am not what you mean by “recovering your investment”? The Tips from the T-List is a collaboration project, and not a commercial entitiy that is expected to return a profit, otherwise we would not have chosen a charity to give the proceeds to. It would be silly to assume that TFTTL is competing with other great intiatives such as WIWIH Blogs, Twits, and others. The idea is to leverage this content and introduce it to the travel and tourism industry at-large. That’s it – as simple as that. Cheers!

  16. Hi Guido,
    Thanks for bringing this conversation up. My blog isn’t on the Tips website hence I am not able to comment directly about it. However I just wanted to comment here because otherwise people get the feeling that I don’t want to be part of the community.

    I would join any community that isn’t dominated by a narrow commercial interest that competes with my own. However, if I were in Stephen and Phil’s position I would do exactly the same as them – hence I support what they do – even if I am not part of it. I do find the “we are not making money out of it” argument a bit weak though – as there is value in building a brand as a business that is a “thought leader” in the sector….
    Cheers from the UK. Alex

  17. Hello Travel Industry Bloggers,

    Interesting conversation, and I’d like to recommend one way to continue the dialog is to schedule a specific meeting about this topic at PhoCusWright’s upcoming blogger’s summits. Many of you attended one or both of our first two summits, one in Orlando, Florida and the second at ITB Berlin.

    Please let me and/or Phil Caines know if you are interested in attending this year’s summits, as space will once again be limited and by invitation only. The US event will be in Hollywood, California November 17-20 and the ITB Berlin event is scheduled for March 11.

    More information will be coming soon, for now, info about the U.S. event is available at

    Hope to see you soon,
    Bruce Rosard
    brosard@phocuswright.com

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