Truth vs. Quick sell - UE part 1

I am not a big fan of "How to" or "Top 10" websites, but I wanted to list a few sites and marketing campaigns that really caught my attention. So here a series of websites that engage users in a great way: I am currently spending a lot of time planning my India trip in August. I am going to fly from NYC and arrive in Delhi perfectly on time for the Monsun season. Exactly how I planned it out!

As I am getting older and more conservative, I also thought about booking a hotel in New Delhi for 1-2 days in advance and not staying at the 50 Cents backpacker hostel as I used to.

As an experienced traveler, my first stop was Barnes and Noble. You probably can imagine: Yes, I bought the Lonely Planet, the bible for rucksack travelers, that is around for quite some time now.

So far so good. I read most of the book, got some great tips, but I missed user reviews and ratings. I also don't like to stay where all the other tourists are staying. LonelyPlanet became just too popular among all travelers, rich and poor.

So at the end I was searching the web....Yahoo reviews, LonelyPlanet.com, Expedia.com, Hotels.com.... All not great, because they all want to sell "their" hotels instead of giving value to their users.

After a little search I found Tripadvisor, which is commercial, but one of the most engaging websites that I have seen so far.

The site includes a travel community, reviews and ratings and and a great feature called Popularity index.

The popularity index lists the most popular hotels and adds the last three review titles with dates right below. Also the approx rate is shown right next to it. Great usability, a little bit busy design, but all I needed to make a quick decision.

With other travel websites, I had to review 5-6 hotels and then got kicked to some travel/hotel booking website without even knowing if it is within my budget.

It's one thing to make a quick sale, it's another thing to engage a user to the website and make him/her return over time.

Of course Tripadvisor, which is owned by Expedia, could market their own hotels with fake reviews and ratings, so I decided to double check Tripadvisors info with Indiamike, one of the largest India forums online.

As a result of comparing the popular hotels from Tripadvisor with Indiamike, I can say that I fully trust Tripadvisor. This is also the reason why I setup a free member account with them:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/Webanalyticsbook

Now I am part of an truthful travel network, and I guarantee that Tripadvisor will get the affiliate sale more often than some hotel site, that was looking for a quick sale.

Engaging users with truthful content will (hopefully) pay off in my case:

[flash]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R06dAgpmmbg[/flash]