Here in LA-LA Land, the only award most people care about winning is an Oscar or Emmy. But for me, taking home the title of "Most Trusted Online Travel Authority" is truly an honor. Not only am I flattered to know that more people trust me than a number of top national travel journalists, bloggers, analysts & travel industry CEOs, but it proves the point I've been preaching for years: There's nothing like a knowledgeable, professional travel consultant to help consumers navigate the cluttered world of travel--be it online or offline.
The poll, conducted by Robert K. Cole on his "Views from a Corner Suite" blog (www.rockcheetah.com) asked consumers to partake in a "Trustularity" contest by voting for their most trusted source of online travel info. Says Cole: "Travel is an intensely personal decision. So is the question, 'who do you trust?' That is exactly why I asked the question. There is no simple answer."
Cole, a longtime hotel/marketing executive (http://bit.ly/bXPaPU), adds: "This one of the key questions facing travel organizations engaged in media, both social and traditional -Who do people trust, and why do they trust them? Is a well produced ad, someone with the most followers, an expert travel agent, a literate journalist, or a dedicated friend most worthy of a person's trust?"
To my surprise, despite the serious competition from industry heavyweights (whose analysis, articles & blogs are at the top of my own reading list), I topped the poll with 19 percent of the total vote! Not surprisingly, right on my heels with 17 percent of the vote was Forrester Research's Henry Harteveldt and close behind Henry with 14 percent was Randy Petersen, the well-known founder of FlyerTalk & Inside Flyer.
What this poll really proves however--more so than that myself, Henry & Randy top consumers' "trustularity" list--is that actual "online travel agencies (OTA's) are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to trust!! Combined, the CEOs of Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and TripAdvisor captured less than 5 percent of the total vote.
So, am I the person you should trust most with your travel decisions? That is entirely up to you and I wholeheartedly agree with Robert Cole who says: "Popularity should not dictate who should be trusted. Trust should always be earned."
If you'd like to give me a chance to earn your trust, please follow me on twitter @elitetravelgal or friend me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stacysmall.
It's no Oscar, but in my world where trust is everything, this award is the equivalent. Thank you to all of you who did vote me your "Most Trusted Online Travel Authority."