As you might know, I run a travel website called Travelhog.net and have been doing so since the year 2000. At some point, the website was more popular than most local newspaper’s websites. Not doing too bad now, it lists travelogues from all over the world.
At some point, I had the idea of also offering the possibility of users running travel blogs through Travelhog.net, but I never got round to it. Partially, because it felt daunting to compete with the likes of Blogger and whatnot.
I recently stumbled upon a travel website, however, that just does that. Over at realtravel anyone can keep a travel blog. Certainly, good stuff.
What I wonder, however, is why prospective users would choose this website over the more obvious choices such as Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal or any of the many local (that is, national) blogging services which have crept up over the years. Sure, this one does look good (just look at the realtravel homepage), but so do many of the other available blogging services.
That said, it does come close to offering functionality I also had in mind for Travelhog.net. Realtravel allows for selecting a country and checking out the blog entries users made for those destinations; take a look at the Thailand page for example. Then again, taking that Thailand page as an example, the website also shows it’s rather commercial in nature:
+ The page URL includes the word ‘hotels’.
+ There is no easy access to ‘all travelogues’ for said destination.
+ There’s a prominent ‘compare prices’ halfway down the page. Amazingly, comparing hotel prices doesn’t work, however (at least, not for Thailand).
When you do stumble down to the bottom of the page, you can find a list of reviews, I assume by regular users, of typical destinations in the location in question. I checked out Chiang Mai (where I’ll be stationed later this year) and found, indeed, a lot of hotel reviews, blogs, restaurants and whatnot. Unfortunately, the restaurant section turned out to be structurally spammed with invalid entries. Still, the right functionality is there.
Now, what’s missing? Another thing I had in mind for doing with Travelhog.net was to index offsite travelogues and keyword match them on travel destinations or activities. A bit like how Technorati orders indexed blogs. I think I could like realtravel, but I wouldn’t want my blogging platform to move from my own site to theirs. However, I would like to contribute from my own website and then somehow be indexed by them. That, currently, doesn’t seem to be possible.