Sunday, July 14, 2024

An unlikely website has become a top source of travel expertise — leaving influencers out in the cold

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Watch out, so-called travel experts — there’s a new, unvarnished source of on-the-go expertise the public is flocking toward, and the industry is taking note.

Where glossy magazines had already largely given way to user-generated content websites and travel blogs, which were then drowned out by armies of influencers with their often-airbrushed, Instagram and TikTok takes on the world, a grassroots return to basics is shaking things up once more.

That’s right — vacationers seeking out the local hot spots, best eateries and picturesque hotels around the world are increasingly turning to Reddit and its worldwide network of über-niche forums (subreddits) and threads dedicated to the discussion of various locales, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Girl in a park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, holding a smartphone displaying the Reddit app on a rustic wooden table
Travel enthusiasts and locals from around the world are giving traditional travel information sources a run for their money. Diego –

While the users’ anonymity or lack of credentials might have once been considered a barrier, travelers say they now value the experiences and opinions of strangers online who don’t have so much as a profile picture to their name.

That, however, is Reddit’s shiny allure — the lack of self-identification emboldens people to be candid and honest.

“I notice people are more authentic about their experiences,” travel agent Molly Gagnon told The Journal of the long-running discussion site.

In the online forums, people who agree one user’s tidbit of advice can “upvote” — read: “like” — their comments, allowing the best suggestion to gain more visibility.

A happy tourist couple in love, laughing and taking a selfie while on vacation
Posting in niche, location-specific subreddit forums can yield a wealth of helpful suggestions for local digs. NDABCREATIVITY –

The trick to mastering the art of the ask is in specificity. Reddit regulars recommend posting to ultra-precise subreddits to get the best answers to queries.

“The broader they get, the less useful they are,” Kansas City resident Jesse Smith, the moderator of the popular subreddit r/onebag — aimed at travelers who prefer to pack light — told the Journal.

“In niche [subreddits], you get people who are really passionate about a topic.”

But it doesn’t stop there — avid Redditors recommend that your inquiries be just as specific.

“People will say ‘where’s a good place to get a beer in Munich?’” Ben Harrison, who previously moderated Munich’s subreddit, lamented to the Journal. “You’ve done nothing. You’re not even meeting me halfway.”

Instead, he urges travelers to read up on their destination and at least attempt a bit of in-depth research.

“You could say ‘These are the top five [beer spots] that are mentioned on Tripadvisor, do any of you go to these beer gardens?’” he suggested.

It’s almost as savvy as letting ChatGPT plan your trip for you — a trend that is only increasing as Ai proliferates.

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