The Secret to the Perfect Trip Report, Revealed!

I’m working on a report of my recent trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Macau — some great first class flights, a couple of airlines I haven’t flown before, some new hotels and some amazong food recommendations (plus the local attractions I hadn’t visited before).

Trying to figure out the best way to share this information with you, I decided to ask for reader advice. I’ve found that my trip reports bring out varied reactions, some people love them, others don’t find them useful, and I wanted to know how to deliver the best content that would serve you – my readers – best.

And combing through the comments, it’s clear that I now have the secret to writing the perfect trip report.

I should stick to the flights and hotels, and ignore the restaurants and the sights.

[S]kip the restaurants and sightseeing – at least don’t do detailed write ups of them. That’s not the primary reason most people (like me) read you.

focus on the flights and hotels

Actually, I should pay more attention to the sights, anyone can look up a past trip report I’ve written on Cathay Pacific first class.

Very interested in local sites & food – this is what is missing from most trip reports.

I really respect your cultural and, especially, your food reporting and would like to see more of it. You and the other bloggers have reported on most of the premium carriers/classes multiple times and I, personally, don’t need to read about CX First again unless it has changed substantially.

I fully appreciated your report of Etihad and value your sightseeing and restaurant recommendations. Therefore I would prefer a full, detailed trip report, which could be broken down into segments. …I think your full trip reports broaden your readership and provide valuable insights for those of us who travel mostly for pleasure.

I think the local experiences (Hawker Markets and South Indian food) are better content.

Only thing I feel strongly on either way is to definitely keep the food and activities in your reports…always enjoy those.

I should truncate the posts so they don’t take long to scroll through, and folks who want to read the whole thing can click for more.

Gary, I’d prefer that you put use the “above the fold” method in your trip reports. I don’t like having to scroll past an entire lengthy post to get to the next one.

I think a short version with click-through to the detailed reports would be best. That way, people can rad what they are most interested in and skip the rest.

.. but truncating posts is annoying for how some people read the reports.

Please do not truncate! I use an RSS reader (feedly) to view blogs, and I truly hate when I have to click through to finish reading!

I enjoy your trip reports immensely as they are.
Please don’t truncate posts – this is not compatible with RSS and makes reading multiple posts at once more difficult.

Clearly, there’s a one-size fits all answer to how I set up a trip report that will please everyone! And now I know what it is!

Truly, I think I’ve learned the opposite, although I suppose I already knew it. People are different, they’re interested in different things. Just because people come here to visit and read, doesn’t mean they come for the same reasons. I write on a variety of things, and not everyone will enjoy every post… or how I format every post.

And I suppose that’s ok, I’ve always written about what interests me most and will continue to do that, though I’m always interested in feedback and hearing how I can make what I have to say more useful (even if I’m not always good at putting advice into action, largely because of a lack of time and technical skills).

Some things I write about will interest you, and others won’t, and that’s ok — you’ll probably keep coming back to read if on balance I write enough things of interest, and will forgive that some things are off key. Meanwhile the things least interesting to you are the primary motivators for others.

Truth is, I don’t like what I think much of the time, you think it’s tough to read me, be grateful you weren’t born me! 🙂

I do think I will try to experiment with some truncated posts, I haven’t done that in years, and I’ll see how it looks. I’ll see whether it truncates in RSS and with email. I’ll see just how annoying that is, and how helpful to others who would rather scroll past the posts.

And if I can keep things clean and make posts easier to skip over if you aren’t interested, then it doesn’t much matter if I have way too much to say about subjects you aren’t interested in. While still writing endlessly for those who find a given post useful.

Truth is, there’s no formula, and I’m going to do my best to share my experiences, judgments, planning process, and preferences now that I’m back from the trip. And hopefully that will help folks come up with their own plans — either by repeating what went well for me, by realizing that what I did isn’t a good fit for them, or by improving on what I wish in hindsight I’d have done differently. And that’s really all I can ask.

Thanks for coming along on the journey!

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, 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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  1. Gary, people are actually pretty miserable judges of what they like or do not like. Write what you want and I guarantee we’ll read about your CX F flight with as much enthusiasm as the other times you’ve written about it.

  2. Gary, love your blog. I’m headed to Vietnam and Cambodia this Saturday, with another 1 night stop in HKG. So please post away! Will look for your full trip report on these destinations. Thanks!

  3. Though they’re not the primary reason I read the blog, the food write-ups really differentiate it from others (not that they’re not great, too) and gives me something I can share with my goodie friends.

  4. Gary, if you don’t include reviews of restaurants in your trip reports on your for-profit travel blog, how can you write off the cost of dining? 🙂

    If you need a new tax advisor, let me know.

  5. It’d be so much easier if you did it my way. Love your trip reports and I’ll be reading whichever you decide!

  6. Gary: if your blog posts are truncated in the RSS feed, I will hardly ever read your posts. I only read blogs in my feed reader, Feedly. I’m guessing there are many others like me. I routinely unsubscribe from blogs that truncate in the RSS feed as I quit reading them. It is EXTREMELY annoying to have to click through to the site every time I want to read a post, and if I’m using an iphone feed reader, it is even more annoying.

  7. @Gary – I can imagine the fold thing would be annoying for email readers, but as an avid RSS feed reader, I’m fine with it either way. If it’s full-text, I can use a keyboard shortcut to skip to the next article. If it isn’t full-text, I can click through and open (another) new tab for it.

    I suspect those with RSS who are complaining use said RSS reader while disconnected from the internet; e.g. while traveling. (Open your notebook, update your RSS reader, close the notebook, and get on the plane!) Therefore, they don’t have the opportunity to read your full post unless it’s part of the RSS feed. That’s a legitimate gripe, just as much as having to scroll past the entire article on the BoardingArea website.

    Which makes more work for you, Gary? I’d rather have it be easier for you so that you can continue writing great posts, rather than spending time on formatting to please certain segments of your readership.

  8. Gary, in my opinion no trip report is complete if you don’t mention restaurants. You fly there,myou stay in a hotel and you have to eat. By no means you need to post pictures of the plates you ordered but at least mention the restaurants you visited and if they were worth or not.

  9. Love the late Steve Jobs line: “It’s not our job to respond to what the customer wants. It’s our job to show the customer what they need.”

  10. I like your trip reports as they currently are in terms of what is covered and scrolling. That said maybe more coverage of a sight or restaurant if it is an exceptional experience would be a nice touch

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