34 comments on “Truth about travel advice websites

  1. I wondered why I haven’t seen you lately on the ‘travel website’. I always read it fairly critically because as you say, I suspect stealth marketing (and blatant marketing) is there. I have always appreciated your comments so will miss them. Will just have to read your blog instead:)

    • Yes Avril, you just have to read my blog πŸ™‚ Ah also I now write in Lonely Planet’s thorntree forum as well, it’s a great forum for like minded travelers.

  2. I look forward to your great recommendations & wry obersavations here, Kozano! It’s beautiful walking along the waterway in Bebek, looking at all the boats. Lots of American names on the boats which surprised me. I tried to ask a couple boatmen why English names, but my question/English(?) wasn’t understood. Ah well. =)

    • Thanks Globe, you know all the history in TA πŸ™‚ Great to hear from you here, thanks for reading.

  3. +1

    some destination experts, while surely providing useful info, seem to have an “agenda” and seem to dislike (and attack) any criticism of some subjectively unpalatable (just my opinion) aspects of an otherwise wonderful city: everything is rosy and wonderful according to them.

    Even more suspect, the number of messages they post, as if they were professional “destination experts”…

    • I know exactly what you mean. They feel they need to reply to every post round the clock even if they have no knowledge on the subject, my suspicious mind thinks this may be to hide the real marketing posts πŸ™‚ Oh and if you disgree with them you’re in virtual trouble πŸ™‚

  4. Have followed and enjoyed your posts on the previous forum, especially your eating and shopping guides. Going to Istanbul and Cappadocia in December and trying to be a more “advanced” visitor this time πŸ™‚ Trust that your insights will add spice to our trip again! Indeed, the forum has become monotone and I am craving for more fresh air! Keep up with the good work, Kozano.

    • Hope you have a great time in Turkey. Let me know if you need any information. Lots of us regulars have been driven out of the forum for one reason or another and don’t feel like writing there so it’s great to see people from there here on my blog πŸ™‚

  5. I couldn’t agree more, Kozano. My protests about marketing eventually led to me being banished into the wilderness, despite having provided the forum moderators with plenty of evidence of what was going on – which leads me to believe that there is collusion between the forum itself and the marketing tool that posts on the thread.

  6. American commerce at work …

    DEs with no business ties are axed while DEs promoting/marketing Turkish businesses for friends & colleagues remain. What a load of crap … but please, do keep the forums friendly and inviting and happy for everyone!!!!

  7. I have little to add except to concur 100% with all that has been said by the previous commenters.Trip Advisor is no longer a travellers tool,it is now a marketing tool for marketeers.I too got sick of playing the’Emporors New Clothes’ on there and so left.Thank God for Thorntree forum!Some folks do try to sneak in ads on there too but they are taken down very quickly and impartially.
    This blog is a great alternative for people wanting info on the real Istanbul.All power to your pen Kozano!

  8. Dear all travellers,

    I would like to share my experince about travellers forums including TripAdvisor, Loneyl Planet and other travellers’ forums.

    We have been receiving many emails to promote our company in such forums. People are asking us for commission or a salary for that. I can share one of these with you; Enigma2007.

    That person is asking for money to us for making recommendations on travellers forums. His job is to do such kind of recommedations.

    If you could please check travellers forums, you can see such kind of people. There are some people who has written more than 5000 comments. Do you think is this normal for a person who is working at some other place? When you follow all forums, you can see that they write at any time during the day.

    These people are promoting and recommending some firms for a commission. Some firms are writing comments like they have been on their tours.

    We are a member of 6 international tourism associations including; TURSAB Turkish Travel Agents Association, ASTA American Society of Travel Agents member, ETOA European Tour Operators Association, ATTA Adventure Travel Association, TIES The International EcoTourism Society and WRTA World Religious Travel Association member and we are attending many tourism fairs.

    If we receive any feedback, we certainly reply that and if there is any issue about our tours, we arrange the refund for that tour.

    We are not an agency just working online, we are an agency which is a member of 6 different tourism associations. If you see such complaints on travellers forums, please do not trust these.

    My personal email address is murti@travelshopturkey.com and you can contact with me for any question regarding our tours.

    Best Regards
    Murtaza Kalender
    General Manager
    We are the tour operators & Travel Agency, member of :

  9. I also have to agree 100%. It frustrates me so much as I have been on the TA Istanbul forum since 2004 and have seen it go from a friendly, welcoming place where we shared all kinds of information about Istanbul and where everyone was happy to post about their own personal experiences to help others, to a humourless place dominated by one poster with a marketing agenda who has driven out nearly all the others and who posts about things he has no personal experience of in order to appear to be the No 1 expert. TA don’t seem to care, and in fact prioritises this poster above all others and for this reason, the forum has lost its best voices (Kozano, Sari, Dudisimo, Osumom (who was a DE) etc – and many other regulars just don’t post anymore.

    Thankfully a few posts are starting to creep into the forum for other people who know about this stealth marketing – so maybe what goes around….

    Glad to have blogs like this to direct people to who want good information. Look forward to more updates Kozano.

  10. I was very surprised when I didn’t find more comments from you on the TA forum. I am glad I found your blog – I will follow it. Your comments are great, and I always look for your advice (and read your comments). We are going to Istanbul again this September for a week, so I am sure I will be writing to you again. Thank you so much for all your help.

  11. Good at least you can express yourself here, and Δ° would wish it would be becoming out in the open. This is just the Δ°stanbul forum, once this bin in open…
    Δ° have sent a message once to FastTrack about TA and it was read on the tv, this has much more impact Δ° would think, as it sounds like hushing up, deleting members, and supporting the ‘bad’ guys! Not very reliable Δ° would think!

    • Yes Jeanne, at least I don’t have to censor my every word here like I had to there. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.

    • I completelt agree with what’s being said in the article, very interesting. I think this has been taken to a completely new level in the Istanbul forum

  12. I was naive about the tripadvisor forum and thank Osumom (and you) for enlightening me about the problem there. It is a real shame to have lost so many helpful voices on it. Now that I finally have the opportunity to return next year, I will miss the diverse voices even more.

  13. Hello,

    Your blog is amazing! So glad I found it.
    What recommandations do you have for a single girl travelling to Istanbul? And yes,it’s my first time!

    • Hi Mona,
      Istanbul has a lot to offer single travelers. What are your interests? I would assume during the day you would want to see the main sights in Sultanahmet. Beyond that are you interested in galleries, museums, shopping, antiques? Make sure you visit Beyoglu, espeically around Tunel, Asmalimescit and then downhill to Cukurcuma for the quirky antique and second hand shops and art studios. I am a nervous single traveler, and I don’t know how you are but I would happily walk in Istiklal Street day or night and eat in cafes like Midpoint, Kitchenette (at Taksim square), House Cafe, and sit in bars in Asmalimescit like Otto or the lovely little arcade just opposite the Tunel (a little metro) entrance in Tunel, such as KaVe and House Cafe. Bebek, Ortakoy, Nisantasi are all great places to have a wonder around for me. Beyoglu neighbourhoods have a bohemian feel and dress code, Nisantasi and Bebek more upmarket. Nisantasi has lots of excellent cafes, if you find your way to Reasurans pasaji there are numerous cafes there. Pera Museum, Istanbul Modern are great museums to visit, outside the historic peninsula. If you let me know of your specific interest and traveling style I may be able to help more.

      • Hi

        Thank you so much for recommandations. Well I will be in Istanbul for an interview at Marmara Pera hotel so for sure Mikla will be a must for me! I read that you like it too there! Do you have any ideea if around 20 november the coctail lounge would be still available?
        Yes for sure I want to visit all the historical sites and museums. I want to go to Beyoglu too,I want to see sophisticated cafes and bars in spare time. Also I would like to eat traditional turkish food..can you recommend a place? πŸ™‚
        Also I will arrive on the airport Sabina Gokcen at 7 pm at night…can I take the Havas bus to Taksim?And how safe is to use taxi at night?
        The last question is…what I have to avoid in Istanbul? Im alone in first place,and I read the turkish man are a bit harrasing.How can I look like a woman from Istanbul and not a foreigner?

        Aaa and I want to see the marina area! πŸ™‚

        Thanks xxx

      • Oh I hope I am not too late in replying!
        Mikla will still be great in winter.
        In Beyoglu around Marmara Pera hotel, near Asmalimescit and Tunel, the street where Pera Palas and Marmara Pera is (which make a sort of triangle with little alleys in between) are all full of trendy cafes and bars.
        In Beyogly Haci Abdullah is good traditional Turkish food. Konak on Istiklal street is good for kebaps. Saray is great for desserts.
        Turkish men can make you feel be a bit uncomfortable with their constant staring and interest but I always find that if you show them no interest whatsoever including eye contact and no acknowledgement, they are not very pushy, if in doubt tell them to go away in no uncertain terms, and don’t be afraid to raise your voice, they back up pretty quickly to avoid confrontation. (yell them AYIP AYIP, meaning shameful :-))
        I never found it unsafe to use a taxi any time of the night but I am Turkish and know my way around the city, but I used taxis numerous times after midnight.
        There are a couple of marinas, although not exactly a serviced marina, I would go to Bebek to see the lovely boats and the views and cafes.

      • Hi,It’s not too late at all. Actually I had my flight cancelled and my trip and interview to Istanbul went off. I want to go to Istanbul in march,after 15. It is a good period? I mean I don’t want to be very hot or crowdy,if it’s around 15-20 degrees it will be just fine…but not colder! πŸ™‚

  14. Interesting discussion. I’m sorry to see that so many conscientious DEs have been banned from TA over the years. At times, some of the current Istanbul DEs seem like cheerleaders. I really want them to be more honest and blunt.

    As far as the general reviews, Turkey is one of the countries where I have seen many restaurants and small hotels with five star and four 1/2 star ratings with 95% of the reviews coming from people who post once or twice and never again. It’s kind of strange that people from all over the world would travel to Turkey and then post one review on an obscure restaurant. Like everything in life, caveat emptor (buyer beware). I generally look for reviews from people who have traveled a lot, posted a lot and seem to have wrote thoughful reviews. Websites such as yours are awsome resources too.

    • Thank you for your comments. I don’t think there is much balance of opinions in Istanbul forum as before, a few DEs rule the forum and other DEs are either kicked out (like me) or are much more subdued as their posts are continuously censored and deleted. Sense of humour or friendly chat and banter is no longer allowed. Anyway, seasoned travelers and forum users have to figure out themselves which are the genuine reviews and which are not. Thanks for commenting.

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