Survey results: what Travelguys learned from its readers

In September, we launched a survey to find out more about our readers, their habits and expectations, and possibly get some ideas on new things to do or not to do.

We promised to share the results and what we learned, and that’s what we’re going to do in this post. That way, you’ll have proof that you haven’t contributed for nothing, and what’s more, you’ll be able to get to know yourself as an audience (er…I almost forgot, since the 2000s the term “audience” has been replaced by “community” – it means the same thing, but it’s a cheap way of showing consideration for your audience).

We’ll start by going through your answers and making a few comments, then at the end we’ll respond to certain feedbacks in a specific way. And it will be an opportunity to share our points of view on certain subjects.

In this post

Table of Contents

Before I start, I’d like to pass on a piece of advice given to me by one of my first managers when I was starting out in my professional life. He told me “to find out what a person is worth, don’t pay too much attention to what they say, but rather to the questions they ask“. With this in mind, our little survey has been reassuring, showing us that we have a knowledgeable, curious and quality audience. In the end, it’s reassuring for us to have taken the gamble of targeting a niche audience rather than going for the general public with articles that have a teasing tone but little value in terms of value for the reader.

Having said that, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

What are Travelguys readers’ favorite sections?

Overall, your favorite sections are flight reviews and analysis articles, whether on the airline industry, the hotel business, loyalty programs or educational articles.

This is followed by a trio consisting of hotel reviews, restaurant reviews and practical travel tips.

It’s convenient for us: they’re also our favorites.

What new topics would you like to see covered?Quels sont les nouveaux sujets que vous aimeriez voire traiter ?

First you’ll want to see themed features, then more personal articles on our relationship with travel, and finally interviews with industry players.

We like it all. A few comments, however.

When it comes to thematic dossiers, time is a rare commodity with us (or we’ll fall way behind on your favorite sections), especially since it’s not as easy to work together on this kind of subject since we’re no longer in the same time zone as when we lived 200m apart. But we’ve got one we were going to work on (medium-haul business class in Europe) and…it’s my fault we haven’t got around to it yet.

As for the personal articles on our history and our relationship with travel, this also corresponds to a desire on our part… I had a few ideas, but we wondered if people would be interested. Our focus has always been on highlighting products and experiences, not authors. For us, the word “influencer” is far from a compliment, and we’re glad no one has ever put us in that category. We’re not fans of navel-gazing elsewhere, and we’re very careful not to fall into that trap. On the other hand, we understand the need to know how we got here. I’m going to make a few attempts at the beginning of the year and depending on your reactions and comments, I’ll see if I continue.

This is also an opportunity to encourage you to react and comment as much as possible. It’s obvious that when we see that a subject is arousing interest, and that you’re commenting and reacting, it makes us more inclined to persevere, whereas on the other hand we may feel that we’ve missed the point.

Finally, there are interviews with industry players. We’re tempted to do this too, but it’s not easy. Businesses like to invite journalists and bloggers to spread the word, as long as we relay the official line and put our critical faculties to one side. There’s a clientele for that, but not us. So interviews and questions…. are not on the program, and what’s more, they prefer to keep them for the traditional media. But if the opportunity arises, we’re happy to take it.

In addition, you have made a number of specific requests:

– comparison between airlines: as mentioned above, we have something in the pipeline in this area. But it will only be occasional: you need to fly a lot on many different airlines over a short period of time to be consistent and not compare the 2023 service of an airline with one you haven’t flown since 2021… But once we’ve got something consistent to work with, we won’t hold back.

– Travelguys surveys and studies: we did this once in collaboration with our friends at Flight Report and The Travelers Club, and it worked well. But it takes several media to reach a large enough audience to have reliable figures, so a common subject and, at the same time, a convergence of interests. Maybe one day again.

Videos on Travelguys

You much prefer text content, and that’s fine with us. You’re not averse to the occasional video, but it’s not your cup of tea.

Video is a popular format, but it has a limit: you can read text diagonally and come back to points that interest you, but you can’t do that with video. Generally speaking, at least for us, text is easier to consume. But when we see the illiteracy figures for young people in France at school, maybe in 20 years’ time we won’t have any more readers…

In fact, we had tried video before COVID with a twice-weekly show, continued for a while and then abandoned it. Lack of time, less convenient to shoot when we’re not physically in the same place. And let’s face it, video requires two things: time and talent. We have little of the former and none of the latter, at least of the type required to make cool videos.

You have to know how to try things, but above all you have to know how to say stop when it doesn’t suit you.

We also tried videos for in-flight reports, but it was too complicated. It’s very complicated to take both photos and videos when you’re on your own. Filming in an airplane is also a bit complicated, and what can I say about sound recording? …. And we refuse to sacrifice the text article and make only the video.

On the other hand, why not when it’s worth it for beautiful hotels, it’s easier. I thought about it recently, but after taking the photos I just wanted to enjoy the place and not spend half a day shooting videos.

Where would you like to see us?

You’d mainly like us to develop our presence on Facebook, Linkedin and, to a lesser extent, allow you to subscribe to the blog by email.

Today, Facebook lets us relay our articles as well as our Instagram posts and stories, and we don’t really see what more we can do there. What’s more, we’d rather keep our valuable content in-house than give it to someone else.

Linkedin ? We have a page where we normally relay our more business-oriented articles… well, when we think about it.

As for the email alert, it’s something we’ve often been asked about, and I’m going to see how it can be technically made possible in an automated way…without going through a paid solution. Not as obvious as you might think. If any of you have any ideas, we’d love to hear from you.

All this reminds me how disappointed we are that one of the coolest technologies of recent years hasn’t been understood and adopted by the general public: RSS. It allows you to subscribe to a blog’s content via a reader, so you don’t miss out on any updates. But it didn’t catch on with the general public, and people preferred to subscribe to Facebook pages or twitter accounts to follow updates, even though these platforms only show you what they want you to see.

In short, there’s a Travelguys RSS feed just waiting to be used.

In any case, your answers confirm that Twitter, er…X, is totally losing ground. Too bad it turned out the way it did.

How did you hear about us?

For the most part, you’ve heard of us through Google…which is our biggest source of traffic, far, far ahead of social networks.

Then, however, there’s Instagram, proof that the time we invest in it isn’t wasted.

And then there’s word of mouth…perhaps the thing that touches us the most and gives us the most pleasure. Tell your friends about us, we’d love to hear from you.

How do you follow us?

For 70% of you, you come directly to the site on your own by typing in its address, a bit like a routine! Impressive! Congratulations, because it’s an effort that reflects your engagement… but it reinforces my idea of setting up an email alert or writing an article to raise awareness of RSS to make your life easier.

Personally, I use an RSS feed aggregator to follow all the sites that interest me, and from there I go to the sites in question in one click when I see an article that interests me. Doing it “manually” on a regular basis means something that really makes us proud.

RSS comes in second with…10%.

Another reason we’re working to make it easier for you to follow us is that many of you make the effort to come every day (50%) or several times a week (30%).

Who are you?

When we launched Travelguys, there was a lot of talk that we were addressing a niche market with hardly anyone. Anyway, we wanted to have this editorial line that suits us rather than having a very big audience by writing articles that don’t interest us.

But we’re happy to see that, overall, we’ve found our audience: either people who have certain travel habits, or others who don’t but would like to, or at least are interested in the subject.

In all cases, there’s a willingness to go into detail and avoid superficiality.

50% of you travel more than 11 times a year.

40% have premium status on one frequent flyer program, 10% on two. 10% are not looking for it, and 40% would like it…which explains some of the questions to come.

Open questions

And here are the open questions. We’ve made a short selection and here are our answers.

Comparison of airline flight prices. Where to find the best flight prices.

There’s no such thing as an exact science; it’s more like cooking by feel than with a recipe book. Above all, it’s the result of experience. But I’ll do a post on it soon if it pleases.

The lives of cabin crew and pilots working for various airlines.

Why not? Rather than just saying what we know about them, we should be able to interview them, or even follow them in their work. If you’re a flight attendant or a cabin crew, or if you’re an airline reading these lines and would like to open your doors to us, we’d love to hear from you.

Would it be possible to indicate the travel dates in your reports. It’s always interesting to know what time of year your trips/stays take place, as this has an impact on the overall travel experience.

It’s true that if we indicate the period indirectly, we don’t give precise dates. Something to think about in the future…

What’s really interesting is to understand the construction of your trips and how you try to “optimize” them in terms of miles/points usage and how you find the best possible deal on airfare or hotel nights.

On this subject, we’re optimizing miles/points earning rather than spending…. We’re more on a strategy of acquiring/conserving status under price constraints. But yes, explaining how we manage this on a yearly basis and how we optimize the miles/price ratio could be interesting. I keept it for a future post.

As you are from the upper socio-professional categories, you have a very good critical sense and are fair in your assessments, you are not scathing and point out the real faults rather than the “trivialities” […] in terms of comparison you are close to one mile at time, so in addition to flight report these are really the 3 sites (along with yours) that I read every day to keep abreast of news in the world of travel.

So it’s not a question but a compliment, but we take it with pleasure.

More information on how to make the most of hotel and airline loyalty programs

Behind this question (since the reader doesn’t have status but would like to), I think there are three: how to earn status, which programs are the most interesting, and how to get the most out of them.

We talked about the first one just above. For the second and third…it all depends on what you’re looking for in a program: some want easy statuses, others consistent benefits, others efficient use of miles. And the three rarely go together.

I’ll see what can be done on the subject and perhaps an article already in preparation on my 2024 loyalty program strategy will be the start of an answer. All you have to do is leave a comment to react and use this as a basis for me to complete with other articles.

A few more “travel tips” and “did you know” articles would be welcome.

They’re the ones we prefer to write, but also the most complicated and time-consuming if you don’t want to settle for banalities. What’s more, you often have to be technical and precise, so it requires a bit of investigation. But don’t worry, we’ve got some in the pipeline.

A small monthly e-mail summarizing the articles you’ve posted might be useful.

We had done it before, then abandoned it because it was too time-consuming and couldn’t be automated. What’s more, it’s anything but free to set up when you’ve got a bit of an audience. But, as said above, I’ll see what we can do about email alerts per article.

You often mix up your travels and it’s hard to keep up.

It’s an editorial choice. If we go trip by trip, it can become monotonous for those who aren’t interested in the destination or the type of trip: each trip is a story, and we tell two stories in parallel, sometimes three. It also means we don’t have to start talking about a trip 7 months after we’ve done it!

What’s more, we’re two authors, so technically speaking one of us would be out of work for 3 months while the other finishes his series.

For the moment, it’s a conscious choice, because we haven’t found anything better, especially as each article includes a summary of the articles in the series.

Regular publications on the future of aviation in a world of climate crisis might be a good idea. the last time the subject was broached on travelguys, it was in “move along, it doesn’t have much impact in real life” mode.

It’s a subject we follow and write about when there’s something to say other than green washing. First of all, the technical part of the subject has been covered, which is the basis and leaves no room for interpretation. Then we’ll see…

But the gap between what we hear in the media, what people say to seem concerned, and the reality of behavior is abysmal. Flights are full, young people are flocking to airports to discover the world… it’s a reality.

Sweden, the country of “the shame of flying? As a frequent visitor, this allegation makes me laugh out loud…. Can we replace planes with trains for domestic journeys? In no more than 10% of the world’s countries. Is green travel the future? No travel will ever be green, whether by air or rail (think of the impact of rail infrastructures…). Apart from walking, nothing will ever be green: even bicycles have a footprint because of the way they’re made, all the more so if they’re electric.

But maybe we’ll have to put our foot in it one of these days. We live in a bubble of good conscience, in a developed country that doesn’t have the constraints that others have…and the subject is monopolized by different groups that are either activists or elites. When you look outside the bubble…the landscape is not the same.

Could Olivier’s articles be more developed, they’re really too succinct?

Yes, I also think he’s letting himself go… 😁

Could you tell us more about the pricing structure for your air travel?

Structure or optimization? I think I see pretty much what you’re saying and it certainly overlaps with the part about optimizing loyalty programs and finding the cheapest flights. I’ll see how to deal with this, but you can also clarify your thoughts in the comments.

I love your reports with beautiful hotels, fine tables and comfortable business cabins, but I doubt this will reach the majority of your subscribers. Without falling into the “I’m going camping for 1 week in the North, in the rain and by bike” trap, let’s start from the same current format, but one class down: 4 or even 3-star hotels, good-value restaurants, worthwhile visits and finally flights in economy or economy+ cabins.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s the articles on business/first flights and 5* hotels that get the most views. Just because people will never do it doesn’t mean they’re not interested, or that they don’t want to dream a little.

As for hotels, we have Moxy, Aloft, Courtyard…. and we have eco on domestic flights mainly.

But, as the figures show, no-one reads a flight in eco with a night in a Mercure.

I’m not saying it won’t happen, but occasionally if there’s no other way. To put it another way: I’m not going to spend 12 hours in economy if I can be in business, especially since I have to extend my legs for medical reasons.

As far as restaurants are concerned, I think we have a bit of everything. You’ll notice the starred restaurants in particular, but there are also some bistro/bistronomic restaurants.

As for articles on destinations and things to see, we do them in a synthetic way: for the details, others do it much better than we do, and we concentrate on the subjects where we stand out.

Airline analysis and loyalty program Tips and tricks for cheaper tickets (departure city, pre-routing, etc.)

We talked about it above…

Bottom line

Thank you all, it gives us a lot of material. So, to sum up:

– More personal articles

– Interviews and thematic/comparative reports

– Travel arrangements in terms of fares and loyalty programs

– Email alerts

– Green

Maybe I’ll add a “letters to the editor” type form so we don’t have to wait for the next survey if you have an idea to submit.

It’s all going to take shape little by little, with some articles already in the pipeline, and some adjustments to be made to the home page to fit all this in… it’s all going to happen gradually. I’m not saying tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but it’s going to happen gradually, and by the end of March we should be able to make an initial assessment.

What do you think? Of course, you’re welcome to comment!

Image : boite à idées by pathdoc via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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