I love travel forums and message boards. Have a question that a quick Google search can’t answer, asking for local knowledge, or just tips from travellers having been on that tour you are just about to book onto? The Internet is ever changing and finding innovative new ways to link with mobile technology, however I did think the traditional message board forum would be here to stay.
IMDb closed it’s message board last year, I occasionally looked at them but I cannot say it changed the way I used IMDb. However I visited the G Adventures forum, the Watering Hole, only to find out that it is in the process of being phased out and the alternative is an app called Tour Radar. I have taken a quick look at the app and the idea seems great, but it isn’t a replacement for the Watering Hole.
G Adventures haven’t given a reason, but presumably they must feel their target audience prefers connecting with travellers in other ways in the same way IMDb did not believe their forum provided a “useful experience” for its own audience. This trend is alarming, LEGO are closing their message board and the Epilepsy Society have already closed theirs. The latter three not travel orientated, but perhaps an indicator of the direction companies are taking in their online presence.
The Watering Hole was the place to find answers to very specific questions in one place. Whether campsites had electricity? Are there many places to restock on beer along the way to drink sitting around a campfire? It was the opportunity to ask questions to people who have been on tours you are considering or already booking onto.
From asking about travel adapters to bars on-board ships, what clothing is essential and what has slipped through the net on to the recommended packing list, asking for personal preferences to help with my own decision. The Watering Hole has made me a ‘smarter’ traveller on the G Adventure trips I have been on, saving me money, time and luggage space. I also like responding to questions where I can, knowing how useful any information can be.
Now it is going and the knowledge that is currently shared on the Watering Hole will soon be a thing of the past.
I can’t help but think without message boards I am a little blind, back to where I would have been before the Internet became this big thing. Okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but I think they are an important tool in helping to get a holiday right and a valuable source of information for everybody.
The good news is there are many other travel message boards and forums. The TripAdvisor messages boards are a wealth of information and knowledge, Lonely Planet has it’s own. A quick Google search shows message boards and forums aren’t going away anytime soon, so for now we are safe to assume most of our questions will be answered for foreseeable future.
But perhaps I use travel forums and message boards more than others? What are your thoughts on the closure of forms and message boards? Is there an alternative that I am just not aware of?