So what else is new? I’m going to buck the system. This time of year my Travel Blog buddies are coming up with “travel resolutions for 2014” and making lists of the “hottest travel destinations for 2014.” I wanted to come up with something different. I prefer writing in the theme of “bah-humbug” and just be the Larry David curmudgeon of travel in this post today.
I’m from Oklahoma originally. Growing up I saw a lot of “cow patties” in our pastures. There are even “cow patty throwing contests” where I come from. So what could be better than harking back to my roots and hosting the Travel Patty awards? You know, the awards for travel stuff that just doesn't make sense to me. Sometimes I read Travel Blogs and think if someone really thought about it, they wouldn't have done that, said that, written that, or been there, done that.
Travel Patties. Yeah. It’s an award I’m going to give out annually now. Those Travel Abroad, Volunteer Abroad, Teach Abroad activities that annoy the “patty” out of me. The award is a cowboy boot fresh with cow patty smeared all over it. And those of you in the big city ... a cow patty is not hamburger.
In all honesty and with full transparency, I got this idea from Travel Blog Writer Richard Reid over at his amazing site, Reid On Travel. (I lived in Oklahoma ... he lives in Oklahoma.) He’s giving out the annual Travel Jail awards. So the basic idea is Richard’s. The Travel Patties? Well, their mine. But after this post, be sure to go over and read Richard's Travel Jail Awards.
So here we go.
There’s a guy out on the west coast of the US that has written a few books, holds an annual conference getting folks all riled up about setting their own rules and changing the world. He writes that he wants to visit every country in the world ... he has only a few to go, actually. That would be great if he did anything while he was there for 24 hours … but he's more into a simple quest rather than doing something useful for the world. You, Dude, get my first Travel Patty. Thank you for making travel a contest of country counting. You’ve just ruined it for those of us who really want to have a relationship with where we travel.
OK. I'm likin' this. Feels good.
This would not be a real Travel Patty award post without giving one to all those Volunteer Abroad Review sites and the "aggregator" sites that let consumers review their so-called experiences. You are the bottom feeders of our industry. You do nothing for consumers with your reviews, although each of you have tried to convince yourselves that you do. If you had one shred of honesty, you would admit that you push reviews on your site for the traffic rankings on Alexa. The result of the Internet space you occupy promotes fake reviews, and reviews by people who don’t have the courage to list their real names and the underlying purpose of their review. There is one site among you in particular who accepts payment from travel organizations that proposes to inoculate them from negative reviews. All of you know who it is, and not one of you has the courage to clean up your cumulative act. All of you share this Travel Patty.
[ I always want to leave something in a post that helps other people. So that no one can complain that I am against all review sites, here is the only travel review site on planet earth that helps people who truly want to travel. Triptease. That's it ... give it a try. First you have to upload an awesome photo of what it is you're reviewing. It isn’t about fake reviews from company owners and staff, or trashing a company because they didn’t give you a refund … it’s a site where intelligent people upload a stunning photo from their travels, write about it, and rank the hotel, restaurant or location. Then, when I go to Morocco … I can add the photos and reviews to my own travel itinerary. Who’d have thunk it? A review company that actually focuses on travelers and travel. Raving about it? The BBC, Mashable, and Vanity Fair. The rest of you guys? I'm sorry you think you’re accomplishing anything positive with your reviews. You do the same thing as each other. You don't practice any creativity at all. Try a review site that helps people. It's the industry you seemingly work in. Give it a shot. I tested Triptease, and here is my entry.]
Man ... that felt better than a dietary cleanse.
Volunteer Abroad projects that involve orphans. HEY! People zoo keepers: Stop trotting out the kids to get funding and pull on the heart strings of volunteers to put butts in seats. If you have to rely on orphans to get volunteers to go abroad, you need to read Dante’s Inferno and think of it as non-fiction, and believe the 8th Circle awaits you. This Travel Patty is for you.
The Professional Travel Bloggers Association. Part of their mission is to “legitimize travel blogging as a business.” Now, I'm all for associations. We belong to 2 or 3. But if you need an association to legitimize what you’re doing, you need to rethink what you’re doing. Here's your Travel Patty.
Volunteer Abroad organization web sites that over use "Travel for a Change," "Change the world," "Travel with a purpose." To me they read like over-used slogans. Here's something to talk about with your Director of Internet Marketing: Slogans are about you. Stories are about your volunteers. Your volunteers know that. Here's the boot.
If you're upset or offended and want to debate anything I've written ... go ahead and leave a comment below. I promise to reply. And if anyone has other nominations the Travel Patty committee should consider ... please feel free to leave them in the Comments area below.
All of us here at GeoVisions wish you a Happy New Year and we hope 2013 was kind to you and yours. We are getting a new website in 2014 ... and we promise, NO SLOGANS. We're interested in our participant's stories ... what made you decide to volunteer or teach abroad, and we're interested in your stories as the experience you deserve develops.
In 2014 we are focused on one thing: "How are we helping?"
If consumer's can't differentiate us from the rest of the guys offering some of the same experiences ... we'll quit. If our Blog and our online experience isn't seen as a "learning center ... your hub to teach, learn and discuss volunteer and teach abroad," then we're simply contributing to Internet smog. We won't be a happy cow.