With all the new electronics out there these days, I can't help but wonder if blogs will soon take over the guide book.
iPhones, blackberries, iPads, smart phones….
In today's world a person can be in a new city, pop onto the internet in a coffee shop from their laptop or surf the web while standing on a street corner and find the best tings to do in a place by doing a simple search.
We have already started using our iPhone for these situations. In Montreal last week, we found our restaurant on the Internet. We didn't walk aroud with our “So and so does Montreal” or our “Montreal by so and so's” latest edition. We used the Internet.
Who needs the maps in a guide book anymore?
We have a GPS that will take us to our guesthouse or hotel. The maps in guide books are never detailed enough and it is such a pain to “turn to page 801 for the insert map.” Just book your hotel online from your cell phone, punch in the details to your GPS and follow the directions to your destination.
You can get up to date bus and train information online with the most recent prices.
Anyone that says blogs are not here to stay are gravely mistaken.
The first thing that we do when booking a trip is to search online for phrases such as “Free Things in Paris,” “Things to do in Sri Lanka,” “Adventures in Thailand” When you look up these phrases, the top searches are from the makers of the Guidebooks themselves. They know Blogging is here to stay.
The information is up to date and it comes from people that are either there right now or have been there recently. We can get an honest review of a place from real people.
Guide Books are Changing their way of Thinking
Lonely Planet is always on the cutting edge and leader of the pack in our opinion. They can see that Blogs are the way of the future. They started the BlogSherpa Program. The Blog Sherpa program picks up the feeds of popular blogs and posts them daily on their website. When you now go to the Lonely Planet Website and search India, you will see the latest blog posts from India in the bottom left sidebar. This is extremely clever on their part. They can still provide their service and people will still come to their website for the basic information but people can then click through to read up to date blogs from people there right now!
It is a win win situatation for all.
We get to be a part of a respected company and gain readers from their site, and they have up to date information between editions. After all, they can't be everywhere every day of the year.
We are proudly a part of this program as we have always trusted and respected the Lonely Planet Name.
Hence that great idea of Blogsherpa by Lonely Planet
In recent years we have been frustrated with guide books because with the rapid change and development in the tourism world, they cannot keep up to price changes, closures and new businesses popping up.
It seems that any place that a popular guide book recommends is overwhelmed with hoards of tourists – package tours, backpackers and higher end travelers. We have found that some of the restaurants and hotels listed in the guidebooks are lacking in service and quality and have rested on their laurels because they are listed in a book.
This used to work when less people traveled, but now everyone is traveling (which is awesome) but we are all using the same 3 to 5 books recommending the same places that they have always recommended.
What Bloggers Offer?
Bloggers can give their readers honest information about a place to eat that a guide book can't . We can walk into a place anonymously, order our food like a regular Joe and then we can share our experience with our readers instantly. People surfing the internet can browse several different sources to find out where they want to go. They will have different views and opinions rather than the one view from each guidebook.
With the proper key words, we can make that blog easy for people to find what they are looking for. Say it is a place to eat in lets say, Jaisalmer India. A blog will be able to tell people that “Oh that highly recommended restaurant in their guide that was written 2 years ago is now overpriced and crowded with terrible food and service.” True story, the number one gem of an eatery in our India Guide book in Jaisalmer was terrible. Just across the square was a wonderful Tibetan Restaurant that was friendly, delicious and cheap! (sadly nobody was in it)
We can follow different niches.
Many guide books don't delve into adventure travel. We didn't know about rock climbing and abseiling in Sri Lanka until we read about it on the Internet. We didn't know about the Mongol Rally until we talked to another Blogger. Many guide books don't offer family friendly advice. People follow family blogs. blogs for that. Solo Women follow Solo travel for women Blogs, Couples travelling, well they like Couple's travel blogs. Cultural travel or scuba diving around the world, gay travel, men's travel, teen travel..There's a blog for that.
Why wouldn't you want to search travel advice from like minded people?
We have always carried a guide book with us during our travels in the past. We have used them as a guide for reference on what part of town to stay in, for their maps and to have an idea of what to do.
Now that we have mastered using our iPhones and in many countries data plans are so reasonable, I doubt that we will be using a guide book very much anymore. They are expensive, heavy and the information is not up to date for today's rapidly changing world.
We can do our research online before leaving home or while we are on the road. You can find free wifi almost anywhere.
Gasp, What if there is no Wifi or Data???
Even if you can't get reception anywhere, you can find it in all the big cities before going off the grid. Besides it can be an amazing way to get back to travelling the way it was supposed to be. We can get off the backpackers trail, we can travel blind and travel just for the sake of traveling. We don't have to have our noses in our guidebooks, or staring at our smartphone, we can use the information that we looked up on the net before leaving and wander.
With the large pool of talented writers telling about their experience on the Internet, we just may break the “guide book tourist route” and start our own.