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Travelfish Reader Survey 2020: The results are in!

Posted by somtam2000 on 6/4/2020 at 07:16 admin

Hi all,

So the Travelfish Reader survey closed at the end of the month, and here are most of the results.

A big thank you to all 749 of you who took the time to fill out the survey, much appreciated!

There were also hundreds and hundreds of detailed comments, rather than list them all I’m just going to list some of the main points—there was plenty of valid points to take on board.

So, without further ado, here are the results, along with some thoughts on each chart.



What is your gender?
Have so say I was disappointed to see that we only have one Jedi among Travelfish readers.

What is your age?
This was pretty interesting and backed up what we’ve learned over the last couple of years. If you’d asked me a few years ago how old was an average Travelfish member, I’d have said 30-40. Then a couple of years ago, we added a thing to the sign-up process that asked new members why they joined Travelfish. The vast majority of these respondents were older—70+ This left us wondering if it was just older travellers who had the time/inclination to email us of if the average member was far older—this suggests the latter.

28% of respondents are over 65 and over 50% are over 55. Just 25% are 35 or under.

Have you been to Southeast Asia before?
This turned out to be a very badly phrased question and I didn’t switch on to the very high figure for "five plus times" till it clicked that a significant number of Travelfish readers actually live in Southeast Asia. Lucky ducks! Will do this question better next year!

If you have been been to Southeast Asia before, which countries did you visit? (Select as many as you need)
Again this is skewed I think by the number of readers who live in the region, but the top three (Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia) are a pretty accurate reflection on usage of the site.

When you read Travelfish at home, do you most often read it on:
No real surprises here—you’re all using it at work right?!

When you read Travelfish during your trip, do you most often read it on:
Again not surprising, though I was surprised that just 11% of people take a laptop with them.

Are you a Travelfish member?
Yet again, not surprising, though with almost 40% either non-paying (I assume grandfathered in members from before we implemented a paywall), I think we have some work to do in convincing members to upgrade to a paid account! More on this later.

Would you recommend Travelfish to a friend?
My favourite chart of the entire survey—thank you!

Destination introductions
75% percent of respondents marked these as 4 or 5 out of 5. A common theme in the feedback though was that many felt they were too long. Requests for more photos and less words in particular.

Accommodation listings
Still a decent result, but I feel the dipping of the 5 out of 5 reflects people using websites like Google, Agoda and Booking that have far more extensive listings. These reviews are easily the most labour intensive part of the research process and a few years ago we made a decision to cut back on how many places we listed—to be more selective—and I can see how that would see people not always finding what they wanted on Travelfish and so going to an OTA

Food listings
As with accommodation I think this is a reflection on people going to sites that list everything, especially Google with its mapping, and specialist food sites.

Sights and activities
75% percent of respondents marked these as 4 or 5 out of 5 and I’m pretty happy with that, especially as, over the last couple of years we have put more effort into this area.

Transport information
Have to say I was surprised just how high the 5 out of 5 was here. It might be a bit of a reflection on much information not really being available online yet through agencies—not sure.

Country specific introductory material (weather, visas and so on)
These pages are often the first stopping point for new Travelfish readers, so no real surprises here.

Suggested itineraries
This one surprised me. While some of the very old itineraries are still in a limited format, all the new ones are very detailed. I need to get the last of the old ones written up I guess!

The pre-trip planning section
This section is a bit buried on the site and the navigation is less than ideal. I’m hoping the redesign will see more people making use of these pages. Wait and see!

The forum
Ahhh the forum. There was a follow-up question to this further down the survey. While social media, especially Facebook, has eaten away at the chit chat that used to underpin forums, when we put posting ability behind the paywall, new posts dropped right off. We had been considering closing the forum, but have decided not to—more on that later.

PDF guides
Very surprised by this as we thought they were one of the primary selling points for membership!

Do you receive the weekly Travelfish newsletter
Having almost 90% of respondents say they at least read the main Travelfish newsletter occasionally made my day!

We are considering closing the forum. The archives would stay online, but no new posts would be allowed. What do you think?
Before posting this question, I decided I wanted a 75% vote saying close the forum to act on it. So, as it doesn’t get much closer than this, the forum will be staying!

Which of the following (if any) appeal the most to you?
The point of this question was if we decided to close the forum would there be a clear outlier in a preferred alternative. The answer is no.

We are considering adding a new “feature story” section, containing a long-form feature every week. If we were to add something like this, which of the following subject areas would be of most interest to you?
This was a good spread, and, once the redesign is finished, we will be going ahead with this. I guess though, in the current environment, “overtourism” isn’t quite as pressing as it was.

We are considering removing interactive maps from the site and instead adding links to direct people to the specific location on Apple or Google Maps. Do you think this is a good idea?
The responses here are mostly indicative of how badly maps are implemented in the existing site. Am hoping to address this to least some degree in the redesign, though will also be making it easier for people to pop over to Apple or Google maps.

Do you think the A$35 fee for Travelfish membership is reasonable?
This one is best viewed in conjunction with the following chart. That almost 70% feel the price is fair is encouraging, but in the following chart, over 60% felt a fair price was $20 or less, and sorry, but we’re not going that low. The price most likely will stay the same, or perhaps increase a little. Undecided at the moment.

What do you think a fair price is?
See the previous item for thoughts on this.

If there was a "Gift subscription" option, where you could gift a Travelfish membership to someone else, would you use it?
After the survey had 100 or so this was very strongly “no” but moderated over the life of the survey. We’ll most likely be introducing something like this in stage two of the redesign.

There were hundreds of really useful comments (including some very funny ones) in this section, but I’m not going to put them up here. I’d summarise them (in no particular order) as:

1) Some want to pay more, some less.
2) Some want more detail, some less.
3) Some want popular spots, some less
4) Most love the newsletter
5) People into Burma really want us to get back into it. Our position on Burma was easily the number one thing people were angry about.
6) Accommodation reviews less valuable than a decade ago
7) Some areas (aside from Burma) are badly out of date
8) Site navigation needs to be improved
9) More book reviews
10) Generally very positive.

So, that’s about the wrap! Thanks again to everyone who filled out the survey and if you have any questions, please post below and I’ll answer as best I can.



#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,079

Posted by hebertito on 7/4/2020 at 18:45

Hi Stuart, I was wondering if the publicity on your site reflects a personal like from you as considering the services offered make sense(especially pricewise) or do you simply accept any company wishing to put up a publicity board, meaning revenu for you of course which is certainly not objectionable.

#2 hebertito has been a member since 4/10/2018. Posts: 4

Posted by somtam2000 on 8/4/2020 at 21:42 admin

Do you mean the stuff for Agoda/Booking/12Go etc? If so, yes, these are all businesses I use myself. The only one I can think of that I haven’t used is the Liveaboard mob I run some placements for in the Indonesia part of the site—but that’s only because I can’t afford a liveaboard!

We turn down a lot of affiliate partners because the ones we work with tend to be the best fit for the region.



#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,079

Posted by gecktrek on 12/4/2020 at 01:15

hey, i think most of the responses to the survey were predictable. the one jarring result was in regards to the forum question, i can understand there are people who do not use the feature, but given its already there, why would so many feel the need to respond "yup, great idea", lets remove it... why would people even care? would love to hear the reasons from someone who thought "yup, great idea" lets remove it. furthermore, there were 50 less respondents to the question... something just doesn't add up!

given thorntree is closing, there will be a rump of travellers looking for a new home.

#4 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 175

Posted by somtam2000 on 13/4/2020 at 11:33 admin

Hey gecktrek,

Not sure what you mean about the 40 answers—692 answered the forum question—the number of answers is next to each chart.

Just added a post with an offer to TT members—you can read it here.


#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,079

Posted by gecktrek on 13/4/2020 at 22:08

hey mr stuart, that's a very kind gesture for the exiled tt members, inexplicably, many seem to have decided on moving to reddit, remains to be seen if that is a wise choice... who knows?

#6 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 175

Posted by somtam2000 on 14/4/2020 at 03:49 admin

Yeah, I see TT is now closed to posts now, so most won’t know anyway. Wait and see I guess.


#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,079

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