Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Progress Report

Shannon Borrego emailed me to note that the number of comments is going down for each successive post and to ask if she was missing something.

Since her observation is correct, I figured that for this week’s post I should give you a progress report and once again ask for feedback.

First the Progress Report

This makes the sixth post.

There have been 157 comments and replies.

There have been 18 requests for recommendations for tour operators for 11 different destinations.  In all but one case we have been able to come up with a recommendation.

Obstacles

Where the progress has been frustrating has been with the search and navigation. and with subscriptions, notifications, and profiles.

When I started the blog I wrongly assumed that off the shelf blog software had a great deal of built-in flexibility.  This is apparently not the case.  Even the requirements that I consider minimal require programming. Soon as I realized this I retained a programmer, but it is taking lot longer than I ever imagined.

What is holding up navigation and search is that I want to include the comments and replies as well as the posts.  There are many very valuable insights and information in your comments.  When someone clicks on a topic that you have covered in comment, it seems to me vital that your comments show up on the results page, and this has not been easy to achieve.

The other vital function that I am working on is subscriptions and notifications. Before I start doing more frequent shorter posts which I feel will make the blog more dynamic and interesting, it seems important to me that you be able to choose not only how you want to be notified when something new is published in the blog, but also how often you want to be notified, and about what you want to be notified.  Apparently this will also take programming.

I am not sure how long it will take, but until you have these choices, I do not feel comfortable cluttering your inboxes with more than one post a week.

Progress in Worldwide Participation

Despite these obstacles, there has been very encouraging progress in my first efforts to involve my worldwide friends and contacts. All my tour operator friends who I have had a chance to talk to are very enthusiastic about the project and have expressed a desire to participate actively and invite their clients to participate.

I have only had time to talk to friends from Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada and Alaska, but one of the things they have offered to do is to help me invite mutual friends who plan and arrange tours in other destinations to also join. This means that in time we can have many of the best destination based operators from all over the world actively posting and giving us the benefit their wisdom.

But before they can actually participate not only do we have to have the navigation and notification worked out.  We will also need a section for participant’s bios, but I’m pretty sure that this will not present a problem.

I have also been refining my thinking for my goal for “Trip of a Lifetime.”  More about that in a future post.

Now for the request for Feedback

One possible reason that the earlier posts received a lot more comments than the later posts is that they called for comments while the later posts did not.  As long as you are finding the posts worth reading fewer comments are not a cause for concern. Please let me know.

I reread all the comments and have come up with the following topics for the navigation.

About this Blog. (How the blog should be organized. The purpose of the blog.)

Accounts of Trips

Destination Advice

My Travel Style (“My” refers to whomever is writing, not just me.)

Requests for Destination Advice

Time of Your Life Trip

Trip planning.  (General

Value of Travel (Why we travel.  What value do we get from Travel.

Virtual Travel

What Blog Topics

As well as these topics readers of the blog will be able to search it by destination.

Please let me have your suggestions for additional topics.  Which topics do you think should be emphasized more?

Finally, please let me have your feedback on how you want to be notified of new posts and comments. Here are my initial ideas on how to handle this.

I am also planning to have a check box at the end of each post and each comment to allow participants to ask to be notified each time there is a comment on that particular post.

Another possibility is having subscribers chose how they are notified by subject.  There will be trade-offs between flexibility and complexity.

Next Weeks Post

I have no definite plans for next weeks post.  Possible topics include up-date on Time of Your Life Trip, more on vacation planning and more on the design of this blog.  Let me know what interests you most.

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6 Comments and 4 Replies

  • At January 27, 2010
    8:06:46 am
    Janet Band said:

    Michael,

    “Accounts of trips” seems broad. If this is where participants post information to share I think it should be broken down into easily digestible bits. That is to say: “Must see” attractions, restaurants, recommended hotels, etc. As a food and restaurant lover, I am often searching for information about specific dining recommendations and would like a quick way to get to that.

    • At January 27, 2010
      7:32:12 pm
      Michael Kaye replied
      to Janet Band:

      Janet, Good point. I think it will depend to a certain extent to how many posts and comments there are and what they contain. The time to have a catagory for say Restaurant Recommendations is when we get our first restaurant recommendation.

    • At January 26, 2010
      4:49:04 pm
      Jan said:

      Yes Michael,

      I would like to be notified when I have a comment on my blog. I did not see a comment until a few weeks later on one of my blogs. Once I receive a reply I find I become more actively involved. I like questions that are very direct and straight forward. Keeping topics clear and precise will bring more participation.

      • At January 26, 2010
        11:36:32 am
        Renee Lasher said:

        I think part of the issue may be the strange and fuzzy line between an interactive chat format and a blog that readers might comment on but is not by nature interactive. I’ve been reading consistently, both posts and comments, but haven’t found the more recent posts compelled me to comment. Which is ok – I think part of the interesting dynamic going on here is the evolution of the site and the people contributing to that evolution. So keep it up, Michael, I think it’s going great.
        Topics: I like the topics that pose thoughtful questions about how and why we travel, also topics sharing specific travel experiences that might give someone something new to try, or somewhere new to go. Like Rattviksdansen, a folklore festival in Rattvik, Sweden. Which is awesome.

        • At January 26, 2010
          12:23:57 am
          Kathie said:

          I am fairly new to this blog but I really like the way you seek input from your followers.
          My husband and daughter and I had a fantastic trip with Costa Rica Expeditions a few years ago. We were able to personalize it to suit our needs very well.
          I am now in the process of planning (one year in advance) a Latin American but my husband feels it is too dangerous to consider doing on our own. What should be the first step in my planning? Should I contact a tour operator to help me decide on an itinerary, or decide on an itinerary and then contact a tour operator? Does Costa Rican Expeditions have tours that extend into Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, etc.?

          • At January 26, 2010
            9:54:33 am
            Michael Kaye replied
            to Kathie:

            Kathie, We only arrange and operate trips in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We have good friends who we can recommend in Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and many other countries around the world. Before you begin to put in the work to plan an itinerary, you should decide on the destination. Please let me know if you would like me to help you do that.

          • Micheal,
            All good. Allowing search of comments is great. Also, the more flexibility you provide your blog readers re communication the better. Respecting people’s preferences (vs one stop shopping approaches) is key in 2010 and even more so in the future. My research shows at least 6 segments of user preferences for email communication…and blog email updates are no different. Your blog categories look great. Blog topics…what defines “adventure”? Creative approaches to sharing your adventure with friends? Unexpected experiences that changed your view of the world…? Traveler styles: what’s yours? Ok…keep on blogging on. :) )

            • At January 25, 2010
              6:50:52 pm
              Michael Kaye replied
              to Annie Ellicott:

              This great help Annie. Keep up all this free professional advice and I am going to owe you another.

              Speaking of professional advice, How do you get the smiley face in the comment. I can’t figure it out.

            • At January 25, 2010
              5:48:30 pm
              Jennifer Fletcher said:

              Hi there!
              I’d like to be notified by eMail ,once a week . I definitely like reading others’comments, so I’d like them included ,too.

              • At January 26, 2010
                9:48:41 am
                Michael Kaye replied
                to Jennifer Fletcher:

                Jennifer, We’ll get there as soon as we can. The problem with the technology I have available at this point is that the only efficient way to notify once a week is to only post once a week.