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Destination Expert affiliations

Ottawa, Canada
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12,051 posts
155 reviews
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Destination Expert affiliations

I would like to propose that Destination Experts be required to identify their affiliations of benefits when there is a vested interest in the country/city that they are made DEs.

For example, in Tanzania, 2 of the 4 DEs are tour operators who can have financial gain from their comments. Though this becomes apparent after spending some time on the forum, it is not so to a new poster.

I know that I appreciate, and can better digest, information when a poster identifies their business as a signature. I think this would also be true for DEs.

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary
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27,094 posts
94 reviews
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1. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

I have been accused of being a TA employee many times, but that doesn't make it true.

If you feel that a DE is acting improperly, you can inform TA staff through this web form:

www.tripadvisor.com/GeneralSupport > select "Forums, Private Messages, and Traveller Articles" > select "Question about a Destination Expert"

Ottawa, Canada
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12,051 posts
155 reviews
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2. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

I am not saying a DE is acting improperly at all and have no need to report one. I am saying that posters don't always understand what the DE does in real life. Other forums require that a poster identify themselves as a "tourist" or "tour operator". It adds some clarity.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Food and Travel, World Cup, Holiday Travel, Spa Vacations, Olympics, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
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4,544 posts
182 reviews
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3. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

Quiltingmamma

Yes perhaps you are correct I have seen this occur too, it is rarely blatantly done but more by innuendo and without the knowledge that a poster (DE) may have a slanted point of view on a subject a new member/reader is not always aware of the affiliations a DE may have.

I believe there is a an owner support forum here on TA and you must register your business there in order to participate why not simply add another title next to a designation such as Business owner. It seems to be quite easy to do for instance look at Country_Wife and the designation .... Destination Expert

for Calgary, TripAdvisor Support, Traveler Articles. Would it not simply be easy to add Business Owner to the designation..

Oh and Kudos to you Country_Wife I have seen you many times make your disclaimer I think it is a very classy and forthright thing to do.

Just my opinion

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary
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27,094 posts
94 reviews
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4. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

Thanks for the kind words, SEBESZ, but I make a point of stating that I don't work for TA because there are lots of things that TA staff can do to help TA members out, which I can't do. So it's easier to state that right up front than try to explain after assumptions have been made. Even so, some people don't believe me; the very declaration that I'm not a TA employee makes some people suspect that I am.

As for the "Business Owner" label, that is a good idea, but it wouldn't cover people in tourist-oriented businesses that can't be listed on TA: travel agents, multi-day tour operators, transfer companies, car rental companies, and so on. There are also legions of people who are lower-level employees of hotels, restaurants, and attractions on TA who aren't registered as business reps on TA because it's their higher-ups who write management responses and manage the listings.

Edited: 1:19 pm, June 12, 2013
Ottawa, Canada
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12,051 posts
155 reviews
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5. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

I agree that it isn't the most clear cut solution to just write. Business owner. At times, there are people who might have been in a business, no longer directly involved, but might still have financial or familial interests that would be considered 'affiliation'. Food for thought, and how would you list that?

As I referred to Tanzania, there are definitely local tour operators, and travel agents who post there. Also in Kenya and other safari based countries. One in Kenya is not a DE but she signs her name and her hotel name. It is clear that she is in the business and though she is very practical and careful with her advice. But her signature allows us to know where her information comes from, that she is local and may/may not have an interest in the answer.

On another safari forum site, when you register, you must identify your 'interest'. There are up to 3 slots for different 'hats', and a nice list of types of interest i.e. Traveller, Tour operator, Travel Agent, etc.

Bloomington, Indiana
Destination Expert
for Bloomington
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9,297 posts
22 reviews
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6. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

I'll point out that *all* TA users (not just DEs) are supposed to reveal affiliations they have with businesses (owners, employees, etc) and/or any benefits they receive, from these sorts of places and (in theory) are limited in the ways they can discuss the businesses (won't go into this in details, but if you check the guidelines (again, in theory) it's *very* likely to violate TA guidelines if you mention a business with which you're affiliated with in a forum posting).

Thus, what you're asking about (suggesting) is already a "requirement," not just for DEs, but for all TA users.

In the big picture, which many users don't really realize, DEs aren't anything particularly special. They're mainly users who have shown a willingness/history to spend time on one or more forums helping others out and have good knowledge of their specific destination (forum topic). Yes, they can do a few things that regular users can't do, such as editing the Top Questions, but that's about all.

Bottom Line: What you have described would be an issue for *any* TA user, not just for DEs. Now that said, I do agree it is particularly disconcerting(?) when you see a DE do it, but it could be reported as a guideline violation for any user.

I'll just add that I know of multiple TA users, and more than one DE, who do a *very* good job of following the guidelines and will not post anything related to their business unless it falls into one of the narrow exceptions to the general rule.

hlo

Edited: 2:04 pm, June 12, 2013
Ottawa, Canada
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12,051 posts
155 reviews
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7. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

I agree that all TA users should identify their position and I assume they do. However, if they don't use a 'signature' every time, then a new user doesn't know them from anyone else.

I am not meaning to point fingers at any specific DE and those that I have read or have interactions with do a very good job of separating business and TA advise, however, we know that some are in the business and nothing is visible to indicate their affiliations.

Regardless of not being much different than anyone else, human nature is that if TA feels they contribute, then the TA reader is going to think they are worth listening to. But one listens slightly differently to advise from a person in the business than from a fellow traveler. Perhaps it is a subtle nuance, but it is present, non the less.

If you have 4000 posts, how many times are you supposed to state you have an affiliation?

Are you able to send me a link to the area that specifically describes how, when and where a poster needs to identify their affiliation? I would really appreciate having that reference.

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary
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27,094 posts
94 reviews
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8. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

Someone with a business affiliation is not required to state that affiliation in every single post that they make. The forum guidelines (at tripadvisor.ca/help/what_are_the_guidelines_… ) link to this page, "Can I sell or promote services in the forums?" ( tripadvisor.com/help/Can_I_sell_or_promote_s… ):

"You can:... Participate in a discussion related to your business or a competitor's business, but you must clearly state your affiliation as a representative. Our members are entitled to this information so that they can be aware of any potential bias in your comments. A simple statement like, "Hi, I'm John from XYZ Tours," is sufficient disclosure."

@hlo: Thanks for picking up on this--it's a very important point!

Edited: 2:38 pm, June 12, 2013
Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary
Level Contributor
27,094 posts
94 reviews
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9. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

I should also point out that just because a TA member (DE or not) repeatedly recommends the same businesses, does not mean that they are employed by those businesses. It may simply mean that they are familiar with those businesses because they have used them. Most people don't feel comfortable with recommending businesses that they haven't used. I do it sometimes, but always with a disclaimer: "I haven't dined at Tasty Cafe myself, but I have heard good things about it"; "Riverside Hotel gets consistent good reviews from families, and it is close to a free public splash park & playground, as well as a large natural area park."

Ottawa, Canada
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12,051 posts
155 reviews
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10. Re: Destination Expert affiliations

These are all good perspectives. Thanks. If it was a restaurant or a specific lodging then it might be easy to deal with. Safaris have lots of nuances to them. You often ask advice for whole itineraries, comoare several companies and lodgings. Threads and questions get murky.

There hsve been cou tless times that people have come on as travellers but they are touting their own business, ormthey recommend their own business. Sometimes, we know they hsve a business, and when recommending several, they include their own. They get reported and removed.

Perhaps I didn't phrase the question well, or people don't run across this on other forums. But what I would like to see is Joe Bloggins, DE for Outer Slabovia, Owner, Yak Trekking Company, or P Salms, Himilayas, past owner, A Wing and a Prayer Ultra lights. That sort of thing.