I Need Your Help Before I Write My Next Trip Report!

I’m about to start another trip report and I’d really appreciate your feedback on how I should go about it.

Back at the end of August it looked like American was going to start adding fuel surcharges onto all partner awards (where the partner charged those on paid tickets).

It turns out to have been a system glitch, compounded by a vaguely worded memo talking about changes to certain revenue tickets, and then mistakenly confirmed by American’s twitter team. Oops.

But during the few hours that this was going on I decided to book an award ticket, to get in under the wire and burn some miles and presumably save myself some money on fuel surcharges in the process.

I booked Cathay Pacific first class New York – Hong Kong and return, and then added in some flights around it so that I would have:

    Washington National – New York JFK, American Eagle first class
    New York JFK – Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific first class
    Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City, Cathay Pacific business class

    Siem Reap – Hong Kong, Dragonair business class

    Hong Kong – New York JFK, Cathay Pacific first class
    New York JFK – Washington National, American Eagle first class

The cost of the award was 160,000 American Airlines miles and $65.50 in taxes.

I left it like that for a few months, not certain I’d even take the trip and especially when it turned out that it wasn’t the ‘last shot to redeem without fuel surcharges’. But I decided to make the trip.

  • I purchased Ho Chi Minh City – Danang, where I booked the Hyatt Regency Danang.

  • And I purchased Danang – Siem Reap, where I booked the Park Hyatt Siem Reap.

  • I also booked Hong Kong airport to Macau by ferry, where I wound up on points at the Sheraton during Chinese New Year. And I returned by ferry (walk-up) to Hong Kong, where I stayed at the Grand Hyatt.

  • Throughout I had some great local experiences worth reporting on, a second visit to Pho Hoa on Pasteur Street in Saigon, a second meal at Fernando’s in Macau, walking around the temples in Siem Reap, two Michelin three star meals in Hong Kong – including Bo Innovation, a home for Chinese molecular gastronomy.

Here’s where I need your help.

  1. I think I should do a full trip report. Back in May I went to Singapore and Bali, and flew Singapore first class. I didn’t do a traditional, chronological report. Instead I separately reported on a few lounges (Singapore’s Private Room, Premier Lounge in Bali, Singapore’s lounge in Hong Kong, and their lounge in San Francisco), on the Grand Hyatt Singapore and on the world’s most over-the-top hotel breakfast, an overall take on Singapore first class after four straight flights, and an Introduction to Singapore Hawker Centers.

    At the time I received a whole bunch of feedback expressing a preference to pull it all together in a trip report, so that readers can ‘come along with me’.

    Would you want to read this trip report? or should I write just a few posts on the things that stood out most, and not part of a larger trip discussion?

  2. I think I should truncate the posts. One of the comments I received during the report on my recent trip to Chennai, India in Etihad’s first class was that the reports are really long and readers have to scroll down pretty far to get past them to the next post on the blog.

    There’s an easy way to fix this, I can put some of the content ‘above the fold’ and then folks who want can click to see and read the full post.

    I’ve generally resisted this because it felt like a technique to generate clicks, I know that I hate reading an article and having to scroll through page after page. But one extra click for trip section may be more helpful than annoying. What’s your preference?

  3. How long is too long for the report?

    This was a two week trip, with Cathay Pacific long haul first class segments, regional business class on Cathay as well as Dragonair, a Vietnam Airlines domestic flight and a turboprop from Vietnam to Cambodia. There’s the ferry between Hong Kong and Macao.

    Lounge visits around the world, including the Wing and the Pier in Hong Kong — the former having been renovated, the latter with a temporary roped-off first class section.

    There were several hotels — two Park Hyatts, the lovely Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, a Hyatt resort in Vietnam I haven’t read much online about, and an airport overnight in New York.

    And the food… I know food reports are a polarizing subject, but there were some amazing meals at both the high and low end, some people like to read about them and others find them useful as they make decisions about what to do on their own trips.

    Add in some sightseeing, and this could easily be a 23-segment trip report. So I ask again, how long is too long?

Your feedback, and any other suggestions, would be much appreciated!


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I’d like to see more discussion about the best ways to negotiate travel in locations – private car? remork? guide? etc.

    Also, if you got photos in Siem Reap with the international signs for “Do Not Wash Your Hand in the Urinal” and “Do Not Stand Up on the Toilet and Proceed to Squat”, that would be lovely material.

  2. Thank you! It was your tweet/photo (durian sticky rice) the other day that made us think about it, and since we happen to be in town it’s the perfect choice. Strangely enough, I really like durian. My wife @ciaspygirl does not 🙂
    Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I like to hear what bloggers do besides ride around on planes and check in and out of hotels. That’s what so many bloggers trip reports look like. I’d like to see what you did while you were there. You seem to enjoy writing so if you have the desire I would like you to flesh out the reports with your experiences at the destination.

  4. 1) Full Trip Report.

    2) I would truncate the posts on your blog, but do not truncate them via the email digests. I get the emails for a reason and I hate having to click on the link through the emails so I could read the rest of the post. I like reading the entire post in my inbox. There are times when I want to read the entire post (like when I am commuting to work) and it is annoying to click the link on my phone to read the rest of the post on a blog.

    3) If you need to do 23 segments, I would do the 23 or however many you need. I want to read about everything!

  5. I would like to see a trip report but not full, more in a twitter/instagram/facebook snippet style. Snapshot of an airplan + short comment. Snapshot of food in 1st class + short comment. And so on. This is a small and lively way to connect with modern public and show your progress.

    You can later combine all that into one post.

    All detailed info and reviews, comments and recommendations, as usual, worth its own piece.

    My 2c!

  6. I’d like to see the full trip reports in one place, and I like the ability to read intro (above the fold) and click to keep on reading. There is no “too long” on a good report.

  7. Gary I think – A full report any day of the year ! Truncation of posts is fine as long as I get my full report by clicking the link. And lastly, there is no such thing as a report that is too long. Some of us live for food and aircraft porn, you see 😉

  8. Gary, I really like your blog, and read it faithfully each day. Having said that, the word for which you may have been searching is “succinct”. Just as you likely travel with only carry-on luggage, and not several checked bags, apply the same principle to your written and spoken word. However, it IS your blog.

  9. Honestly, you’re the only blogger whose trip reports I care about at all because you talk about the places you see when you actually do go on trips. I’ve discovered great restaurants like Elephant Jumps through your recommendations. Keep them coming. If I wanted to read about someone’s champagne obsession and how they split hairs between various F cabins, there are other blogs for that. Keep your unique selling point.

  10. Because this is very similar to a trip I hope to do soon, the more detail the better. But maybe it would be a good idea to separate the flight, hotel, and restaurant sections.

  11. I enjoy the full trip reports, but I do think, particularly for “picture heavy” posts, going to a set up with a paragraph introduction and a “click to see more” link would be good. This will-

    1) let people jump over details they are not interested in,

    2) faster load times for the summaries for people reading on mobile devices or with a low bandwidth connection, and

    3) when scrolling through to find a link from an older post, I don’t have to reload all the pictures for posts that I have already read

  12. Like the above the fold intro. Would like the separate sections – air/hotel/sightseeing, etc with a caption so I can easily hop to the next if I want to. I like reading it all; it’s probably a trip I’ll never take, so I enjoy living vicariously.

  13. Please keep the food and restaurant posts. So many bloggers take so many pictures of lounges, hot towels and champagne on the plane. I love your perspective about the people, the food and the places. I got so many good tips about restaurants in your blog. Keep up the good work

  14. 23 Segment seems fine as long as it is not crazy long and boring like MMS. Please keep it short, which you already do anyway..

  15. At this point in your corresponding career, I doubt there’s much any of us could tell you about how you could better communicate with us – your traffic and popularity speak for themselves. I read your posts on topics that catch my interest, but for your insights. Whether on bookings, flights, hotels, meals, or excursions – I’ll get to benefit from your experiences. So please keep it coming – however you see fit. And thanks for sharing it with us!

  16. I enjoy hearing the whole story. I am doing a very similar trip next month, all FC to Singapore, Hanoi, Siem Reap, Beijing. I’m always interested in hearing what you think of food, hotels, lounges, airline seats and service. Give me the whole story and thanks. Readers can skip what they are not interested in.

  17. Oh my word! You had a checked bag?! I can’t wait to read this. Give us the whole thing. I love your pictures and the details of restaurants and sites you visited. Please don’t change the way you write. You take us along on such cool trips. You’re my favorite travel writer.

  18. The more detail the better. If someone does not find something interesting or relevant they can skip it. Personally, I enjoy reading just about everything except I skim over the food/restaurant stuff.

  19. Please skip the trip reports, food reports, etc. You provide a wonderful service in helping readers maximize credit card, mileage, hotel points etc. Travelogues descriptions are a dime a dozen, and food descriptions drive many people away. If you must include such secondary content, perhaps it could be relegated to a secondary RSS feed, along with political opinions, etc.

  20. I will be visiting SR/Angkor in November, so for purely selfish reasons I would like lots of detail on the Cambodia part.

    After scrolling through the comments above and reading all of the diverse opinions, I’m not sure we really helped much…

  21. as someone who has an upcoming trip to hong kong and debating between bo innovation and amber, i would welcome a detailed restaurant report.

  22. 1) Full TR
    2) YES to the “click here to read more”
    3) As long as it takes to include everything including sights, restaurants, etc. People who don’t want to read about those will skip to the next paragraph or to the next article entirely. When I’m going on vacation I want to read all about a certain area so the more info the better.

  23. Really enjoy your TR and don’t necessarily want to see anything change. I like the sights and food in your reports.
    Keep up the good work, and thanks for the effort.

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