Tripadvisor Destination Expert?

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Tripadvisor one day without notice, banned my ip after years of my giving advice and receiving so many comment and emails of appreciation. Many of their destination experts for Vietnam became my friends and many regular posters as well. I enjoyed very much when they actually came to Nha Trang to visit with me and I received emails from them asking what was happening…. I had no idea and could not contact them without an account so I created a new one from another ip address and sent an email asking what was happening. In the next blog I will include copy of the actual emails from that time. It all started with my offer to be a destination expert in February 2012. I was very

Drying Rice Paper
Drying Rice Paper

disappointed at that time with the very poor advice being given to people wanting to visit Vietnam. Following is the correspondence at that time. Note the professional manner in which Louise spoke…….She had my respect if not agreement.  A very different manner than what is to follow in the next blog:

To: destinationexperts@tripadvisor.com Hello, I have been giving travel advice in the Vietnam forums for a few years now and am writing to introduce myself and ask if possible to become a “Destination Expert” for Vietnam. Until lately, I have had no need or desire for such a status, but my reasoning for this letter is as follows: A couple of years ago I became friends with 2 of your destination experts and they suggested that I would make a valuable contributor because of my status here. Their reasoning was that my deep involvement in Vietnam tourism and understanding from a western viewpoint made my advice needed. I was giving advice anyway (promoting Vietnam as a tourist

Lobster
Lobster

destination is part of my job) and never saw the need for a TA status until recently I am a foreigner living in Vietnam that works in tourism. I am involved in design of country wide tours and work as a liaison helping build tourism ties between Vietnam and other countries. I run a hotel, and am well connected with a large Vietnamese family. I also speak Vietnamese (poorly), and am also a tour guide, legally licensed to drive. I do tours in the Central Highlands and other areas by car or motorcycle, and countrywide tours by bus. I have been to every city and Vietnam tour destination multiple times as first a tourist in the 90’s and now as a guide or tour inspector. I understand the rules, regulations and many of the legal issues or government restrictions for travelers visiting this country. In the forums I am known as Owee and always sign with my blog link www.owee58.com I never self promote by even mentioning I have a hotel or sell tours for people I am involved with (unless asked), and try to maintain a neutral presence which brings me to the point of this letter. Some might my blog as self promoting, but in reality it is a place for people to get accurate advice on some issues and to give insight into issues living in Vietnam. I have of late encountered some threads where good meaning TA members have given totally wrong advice that would cause trouble for a traveler. For example, issues such as passport retention, Hotel rules for sexual encounters, safety and crime issues, and a few others. When I gave the

The Bat Pagoda
The Bat Pagoda

correct advice, I was ganged up on by a few regular contributors that often give very good advice for contradicting them. A couple of them even live here in Vietnam but live as tourists and do not understand some issues though quick to give advice. Being the Destination Expert for Vietnam would lend validity to my comments and perhaps prevent some people from following incorrect advice. I had the pleasure of meeting your current Vietnam Destination Expert (Hien) and she thought it a good idea. Regardless of your decision I will continue to give advice in the Vietnam forums as promoting tourism and helping travelers is a big part of why I live and work in Vietnam. Regards, Owee www.owee58.com

Their response:

Hi Owee, Thanks for your participation in the TripAdvisor community, and for your interest in becoming a destination expert.  I’m writing to let you know that we have reviewed your contributions, and unfortunately have chosen not to go forward with your placement as a destination expert. Our help center has a detailed description of who destination experts are, and what we’re looking for in potential destination experts: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/community#c1. Some common reasons that we pass on destination expert nominations are: -not enough posts in their destination’s forum -off topic chatter in the travel forums -disruptive forum posts -failure to disclose a business affiliation -self-promotion/solicitation in the forums or private messages We thoroughly review each destination expert’s contributions and make a decision based on your forums history.  A few removed posts will not preclude a member from being designated a destination expert, but we do require destination experts to follow forum guidelines and embody our Community Mission: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/what_are_the_guidelines_for_posting_in_the_forums Please note that because there is a link to the hotel you own on your blog site, it does not meet our guidelines to share a link to the blog in the forums.  We understand that this violation was likely unintentional and that you have helped many members, but in order to avoid the removal of future posts, please refrain from posting links to your blog site in the forums. If there is a piece of information you wish to share with readers, please share the information itself rather than the link to your blog.  We hope you understand that in order to treat all members fairly and maintain the forums as they were intended, we must uphold our guidelines. We hope you’ll continue to contribute to the TripAdvisor forums – thank you for your cooperation and for being a part of the world’s largest travel community! Best regards, Louise TripAdvisor Support Team

Ladyboys on stage
Ladyboys on stage

Hi Louise, “Please note that because there is a link to the hotel you own on your blog site, ” I am not aware of any obvious areas that are links to my hotel and thought I had removed the ones that were there in the past not to generate any conflicts. No Matter….. I would suggest perhaps that a little check is done with the selection of experts in the Vietnam forums as many of them have no understanding of the area they are claimed to be an expert for. If looks unprofessional to me, but then, it is your site and your decision. Owee

Hi Owee, Thanks for your response and for your feedback about our current team of Vietnam DEs.  I am sorry to hear that you do not think most of them are qualified.  If you have specific concerns or examples, please let me know. I noticed that you have continued to include the link to your blog in your forum posts.  As I mentioned in my last message, because it includes a link to your hotel (http://owee58.com/about/) it does not meet our guidelines for inclusion in your forum posts.  In order to prevent removal of your posts, please refrain from including a link to your blog in your forum posts.  If you have further questions about our guidelines, please let me know. We certainly appreciate all of the help you offer travelers and simply ask that you keep your posts within the guidelines.  Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation. Best regards, Louise TripAdvisor Support Team

Hi again Louise, Thanks for pointing that out. My blog is all about giving accurate advice and information and not promoting my hotel. I did not recall that link. It has now been removed. Owee

Hi Owee, Thanks for your response.  We certainly appreciate that you were likely not intentionally violating the guidelines and that you have a desire to share your blog work with travelers becauseVietnam Christmas you feel it is useful.  We just have an obligation to treat all members fairly and uphold the guidelines. Thanks for your cooperation and please let me know if you have additional questions or concerns. Best regards, Louise TripAdvisor Support Team

Even though I was a bit disappointed about their decision I was fine with it. I continued with giving advice and never referring that I had any kind of business in Vietnam. At that time there were no Google ads, link to my hotel or a tour page. It was all advice only then Dec 2nd came and I could not log on. Intelligent people who were looking for what I offer could still find me so I guess in a small way, Trip Advisor helped with marketing my services…. And again I stress…….. WHO CARES and WHY NOT!! There is already many tauters and paid reviews out there (still), why should this bother them? The emails continue in the next post.

Since writing a critical review, I have become aware of some very anti-Tripadvisor websites. a few of the pics are from their site.

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Owee

Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

5 thoughts on “Tripadvisor Destination Expert?

  1. Just read this , shame ,they are making it hard but I still found you . We are coming over again so am needing advice . So the Tide Hotel is no longer? Where are you based now?

      1. Thanks heaps. Looks awesome will be sure to book to stay. We will be coming over end of July 2016 so when will we need to book will need 2 rooms.

  2. Too successful….beating them at their own game maybe.
    I’m sure they get some sort of compensation by having their members stay at suggested lodgings.

  3. Thank you for what you do. You have been far more helpful than TripAdvisor. I would suggest that they change their name to MemberAdvisor as from what I have read from what they have wrtten that they are more concerned about fairness to their members than us visiters to other countries.

    Ed

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