How Can I Improve The Trip Report Index?

For years I’ve had a Trip Report Index page on the blog, where I post links to all the trip report installments I’ve written.

When I launched it I organized it chronologically by category. I split it up into the following categories, each organized by year:

  • Airlines
  • Airport Lounges
  • Hotels

When I first started the blog six years ago that seemed like an easy organization system, though with the number of trip reports I’ve written it seems like this could probably be revisited. That’s especially true since I’m writing more and more trip reports every year, and will be moving into hotels full time in a few months.

So if anyone has any thoughts as to how the Trip Report Index page could be better organized I’d love to hear them! Would it make more sense to list hotels by loyalty program? Chain? Location?

Would it make more sense to organize flight reviews by airline? Class of service? Aircraft type? Is there other information I could put on the Trip Report Index page to make it easier to search? For example, for airlines my format right now is like this:

Delta BusinessElite Sao Paulo to Detroit

Would it be easier to do something like this:

Delta BusinessElite Sao Paulo to Detroit
DL JFK-GRU 767

I don’t like the above specifically, but the idea is to phrase things in different ways so it’s easier for you guys to search the page and find a specific installment. For example, if you want to read an A380 review it might make sense to have “A380” on the Trip Report Index page, though I’m not sure the best context in which to add that. Would some product pictures improve the page, maybe if they were clickable and linked to trip reports?

For that matter, I’m not sure if anyone knows of any technology that would make it easier to display the information better.

Would love any feedback you guys have. The more specific the suggestions, the better! And even formatting suggestions would be great as to what information is useful in the index itself. I’m totally open here. While I don’t quite think the page is “broken,” I do think it could use a fixing!

I have a couple of Tumi amenity kits I’ll give out to two people that leave constructive comments. It won’t be random, but if you leave any useful feedback you’ll be in the running.

Delta-Tumi-Amenity-Kit

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

Comments

  1. You could try a table that could be ordered by whatever you choose, with fields for airline, aircraft type, class of service, date etc. that would help people whatever they are looking for. Wikipedia (among others) use tables similar to this.

  2. Ben:

    I can only speak for myself, others may have different needs.

    For airlines, the airline name is top priority (many of us can suss out the Alliance from the airline name), second priority is the type of aircraft (that way if readers want to research all of your A380 trips they can do so easily), third priority is class of service.

    For hotels, city is first priority (that way, if I’m going to Singapore or San Francisco we can research your experiences on hotels in that destination), second priority would be the chain (Hilton, Starwood, etc.)

    For lounges, first priority would be the airport it’s in, and second priority the airline/alliance the lounge is associated with.

    Will be interesting to see what others think.

  3. I agree with @Peter-he lays it out pretty well. You need to think in terms of a search “tree,” going from the general to the more specific.

  4. Your “Filed Under” section I think could help out with this. Add tags for different airplanes. For example, your most recent report on the AA 777-300 is filed under “American, Travel, Trip Reports”.

    You could add another tag for airplane type and another for class flown.

    Then, on the trip report main page you can have links for each airline, type, or class and when you click on one of those links, it lists in chronological order those trip reports.

  5. By Region? SE Asia, NE Asia, Western Europe etc…

    Or give categories (best location, worst concierge service) for hotel stays

  6. Probably the thing I’d like to see most would be having a specific grouping for complete multi-post trip reports vs. the ones with JUST individual posts about flights / hotels / lounges. Not that I’ll ever likely follow them as a “travel cookbook”, but they are quite useful when doing more complicated combinations of things. An example would be flying into LCY / LGW and then TATL’ing from LHR that day (or the next). They’re also quite entertaining to read them as full stories about your adventures rather than individual posts.

  7. Hi Lucky
    It does depend how many variants you wish to add. We may be looking for Airline;Route;Class; From;To; & with varying priorities of these. If your Table could be shown with those, people could filter the relevant reports as they desire. An IT specialist will have the necessary tools to customize the data into more of a 3 dimensional block.

    In the interim, I would do is reverse the order of your reports to the most recent. As things change, reports in 2008 might not suit the reviewer, as much as revised ones in 2013 & dare say it 2014.

    Thanks for all the info…reading on always on my today to do list 🙂

    Keith

  8. I agree with takke — put it in a table (database) and let us sort it how we want. Some suggestions for categories/searchable fields:

    Airline
    Class of Service
    Country
    City
    Continent
    Alliance
    “Trip” (e.g., let us sort by whatever you titled the series of trips)
    Aircraft TMS (type model series)
    Date
    Airport

    By default, list them chronologically, then let us filter how we want.

    If I’m about to book a flight, I might want to see your impressions about United business class, so I’d filter by “United” and “Business”. Or maybe I’m doing a Star Alliance award trip in first class and want advice on airline options. I’d sort by “Star Alliance” and “First Class”. etc.

  9. I would like to be able to find reviews by airline/aircraft-type/class

    Airlines seem to be updating their seating continually, and the quality of a given cabin varies by aircraft type. For example, I know LH 744, 748 and A380 have good F product. What about the 333, 343 and 346?

  10. basic suggestion, but it would be helpful if all the values on the page are browser searchable (control+f)

  11. Ben,

    For airlines, it’d be easiest for me to see [Airline] [plane type] [cabin] [route]

    Emirates A380 F LHR-DXB: [Title of post]

    It’d make searching more effective because I’d imagine people primarily are looking for trip reports to see what a certain cabin class is like on an airline, then afterward to see what routes you’ve flown.

  12. Why not use table press plugin to let readers filter multiple columns like say, Delta flights in December or flights to NRT or whatever else. In the table the order doesn’t matter, just chronologically I guess. That way you don’t have to organize it but it’s still easy to find.

  13. when i use the index, it is normally to search for reviews of a specific product, or of different hotels in a given area.

    i think it would be helpful to list each airline separately, and then organize chronologically. (so all singapore airline reports would be grouped together, with the most recent appearing first.)

    for hotels, i am often trying to make a decision among different options in a given destination, so organizing by destination (and then chronologically) is most helpful. that way i can read and compare the attributes between, say, a park hyatt, vs. an intercontinental.

  14. …sorry meant to say the Master Tab could be Airlines; hotels; lounges etc. That would give you opportunity to add like Tech (Cell Phones – Roaming Costs)

    Auatralian Business Traveler (@AusBT) have a similar structure on their review page as http://www.ausbt.com.au/reviews

    Tip of the hat to David Flynn (@DSFlynn) & his team.

    🙂

  15. Lucky, it would be helpful to have tabs such as these:

    DOMESTIC / NORTH AMERICA
    TRANSPACIFIC
    INTRA-ASIA
    TRANSATLANTIC
    INTRA-EUROPE
    TO SOUTH AMERICA
    WITHIN SOUTH AMERICA
    OTHER LONG HAUL
    OTHER SHORT HAUL

    etc. — Cathay reports may be lovely to read for everyone, but if you’re specifically wanting reviews of any and all trans-Atlantic products, this would be a helpful way of getting there.

    Agreed also that tabs for Airlines would be especially helpful. Perhaps they could be grouped by alliance? In other words, you could have a Star Alliance, OneWorld, SkyTeam and “other” tab — this is especially useful for those who want to figure out the best way to get a bang for their miles and points.

  16. It seems a large number of your readers do not know about Route Happy or Seat Guru which answer a lot of the questions I see………I can’t imagine any interest in starting to search for a past article that offers no link to the city pairs I am traveling…….it doesn’t matter if there is an A380 trip report if it doesn’t fly between the city pairs I want………..and it doesn’t matter what hotel deals are out there if it is not in the city I want………….geography dictates everything except for the funny money traveler……….

  17. Sorta comical that a business traveler’s boss or their spouse would come in and say “Hey I’ve got a trip on Emirates for you” or “Hey I’ve got a trip in an A380 for you, where do you want to go” If those are not the starting points of a trip then why would want to organize your blogs in that counter intuitive way?

  18. How about using a keyword type of search using filters. Something similar you have when shopping clothes online. I can pick brand, color, size, price, etc… In your case, let’s say I want to see all your Delta reports, I only select Delta on the filter and let it bring all the rest. But if I specifically want to find a Delta flight to/from Sao Paulo I would select Delta as airline option and Sao Paulo as the city. As you enter more and more reports you add new cities, airlines, countries, hotel names, to the filter session so we can search broad or very specific. You could name your reports any way you want but add specific keywords when saving it so people could search. For example, on Delta flight Detroit to Sao Paulo, keywords could be: Airline: Delta, Aircraft:767, Country: Brazil, City: Sao Paulo, etc….

  19. As I mentioned in a comment on another post a while back, I really enjoy reading about your trips from beginning to end. But right now there’s no easy way to do that for past trips. On the recent ones, you have been putting links to the other installments in each post, but the old ones don’t have that, and it’s virtually impossible to find all of the installments of a given trip. I’d really like an index that groups them that way, to make it easier to read through them in order.

    It is of course also important to be able to find things by airline, chain, location, etc., but it seems like that could be handled fairly easily with tags and then just link to the tags from the index page.

  20. What about starting a new Google Maps map?
    By working different layers & colors, you can actually differentiate with categories. (f.e different colors for FC, BC or A380/777/…)

    And then on the map you add the locations of the hotels, when you click on the hotel, you’ll get to see a short description and a link towards your review.

    As for flights, you can add those too, just maybe in a separate layer.

    Mail me if you need help how to do it 🙂
    It’s a hell of a job to do it though! You’ve got quite a few trips. But if doing a few flights/hotels a day, and you’ll be done within a reasonable amount of time.

    Here’s an example:
    https://mapsengine.google.com/map/viewer?mid=zbpRWssGYDs0.kf9YxPqge8YM

  21. I’m in the usability field and less mouse clicks the better. Personally I don’t mind how it is now, all I need to do is CTRL+F and I can find what I need pretty quickly.

    However if you are going to revamp it, I think some type of filtering system by drop downs where a user can filter by airline, alliance, country, class of service, ect. but allow the user to see a holistic view of all trips if they would like.

  22. I think Peter pretty much nailed it in post 3. I’d add year information in the index in some fashion, because a 2008 review may not be as interesting as 2013, etc.

  23. Other then the carrier, the most important thing for me is to be able to see/or sort by which type of aircraft. If this could be done in a more prominent way, I know that would help some of us out.

    For example, when planning an award flight, I’d like to be able to refer to all your flights on a Lufthansa 747 to see what type of product I’m booking.

  24. I think it would be great to offer some index by total trip report. I like to read all the parts of one trip report in chronological order, so I find the main title theme is a good point of navigation.

  25. I agree with Sg in post #20. I like reading the entire trip report. That being said I have recently wanted to find a review for a hotel in a specific city. So categorizing by city would be nice as well.

  26. You might want to include the plane type in the title. In the example it would be Delta 767 BusinessElite… This provides a way to highlight the aircraft type. Also, using tags on the report to highlight certain things (i.e. class of service, airline, etc) to make it easier to narrow down the selection. Thus the index page realy just links to various organizations of tags (probably sorted primarily by airline). Hotels, the main way to tag is by loyalty program, with a secondary option to tag by city.

  27. You can use tags for each post to cover important filters or topics such as:
    – airline
    – hotel
    – city
    – aircraft

    You can use multiple tags for each report and index them. People can search by tag – or you can list all the tags (or use a chart to show the most popular ones).

  28. Ben,
    Whilst you’re at it, can you also organize the Q&A section – maybe collate them in to groups and sub groups? It takes quite a while to load, when trying to ask a new question.

    Thanks,
    Vik

  29. Make a sortable list. Use drop down lists that someone can sort by the category of their choice (ex. Airline, aircraft type, class of service etc.)

  30. For the most part people pick destinations as opposed to anything else, so for hotels I would definitely sort it by city.

    When it comes to flights, I’d pronably sort it by airline, since the experience doesn’t vary that much based on the route you fly. I would make sure you include the aircraft/type of hard product. So for a LH J flight you’d say something like:
    “Lufthansa JFK-MUC A330 business class (new business class)” or something along those lines.
    Regardless, thanks for trying to make things easier for us!

  31. Actually, what would be very useful to incorporate is when when someone clicks on comments on your frontpage, it bypass the post and start straight to the comments section.

  32. Consider a drop down list or checkboxes for readers to have an option to organize the way the index is sorted by themselves. Have a default layout you desire.
    The dropdown list or checkboxes should include the following in this order: From/To (not all your trips originate in north america), class of service, airline name, aircraft, date (recent to last).
    Regarding hotels it should be fairly simple: City, hotel name, airport hotels (yes/no).

  33. @Lucky

    I find your articles pretty easy to reference, however, I was wondering if you could index your Ask Lucky page. I know it would be quite a task to index everything by category, but if you could just index the entries by month and year that would be very helpful. Having to wait for the page to load and scan all the way down takes a very long time and just a simple indexing of the info by date could be very useful. Also, seeing as the oldest info comes up first, it would be nice to be able to skip down. Reading your entries from 2006 is fun, but not as helpful in today’s miles environment.

    Keep up the great work!

  34. Try Tagging each post with the keywords and use the info to perform a Blogwide search. This would help to ensure all keywords are searchable and NO report will be missed

  35. Others have already hit the high points. For me at least a listing of the actual trips (rather than segments) would be useful since a given segment may not have links to all of the other segments from the trip on its page.

    A sortable table would be perfection though.

  36. I would suggest dividing reports by Global Alliances, and then either by airline company/aaliance member or by class of travel. Same could apply for hotels, as division by global brands would be most useful.

  37. Tag your airline reports by:
    Airline, alliance, aircraft, flight length, service class, origin, destination

    Lounges:
    Airline, alliance, class

    Hotels:
    Hotel, chain, city, rough price/miles

    And allow us to easily filter between them easily. As well as the usually chronological order option as well.

  38. As several have noted above, being able to search or filter based on the available metadata is what is probably most useful.

    If you had a decent way to search the data, that would probably me the best improvement for users. Currently, you can of course type-ahead find in desktop browsers (e.g. control/command-F and start searching within the page), but that only works for the data you’re showing. Tagging each post with key terms could help make this work with one of the built-in WordPress search features or plugins.

    If you did not want to go the search route, then you could use a couple of widgets, probably a filterable, sortable grid and a map widget. The map could show various routes and locations, but with your many trip reports, that could get a bit hectic, and again, you would need a way to filter (e.g. show me all the flights on BA, then the map could let me select them).

    A grid widget might be an easier option here, e.g. something like dgrid ( http://dgrid.io/ ) with filtering. A very simple example of what I’m describing exists at http://dojofoundation.org/packages/dgrid/tutorials/grids_and_stores/demo/query.html ). I enjoy your trip reports… if you wanted to go this route, I’d be happy to help you with the technical side of setting this up, just drop me an email.

  39. I know u wont agree with me but i would like to see:
    Most memorable moments (the flight you cried)
    Caught in coach
    Better in business class
    Extreme first
    Super doper deals

    Your gonna say that doesnt make any sense, but it does. When i read blogs i wanna do 2 things educate and or get entertained. This format gives me an option to choose. Timelines are great but not every trip is worth reading sorry but its trip.

  40. Bring new reports centre stage with a headliner pic to whet our appetites. And maybe an email alert system so we don’t have to keep checking in for new F reports….

  41. Hi Ben,

    It should be as simple as possible. My suggestion would be:

    For airlines: airline name, aircraft , class of service.

    For hotels: city, chain.

    For lounges: airport, airline/alliance.

  42. Just wanted to echo others that responded with Country folder.

    For example, I’m thinking of going to Berchesgarten (butchered spelling). I know its in Germany and you posted an awesome review of your hotel, but can’t find it for the life of me!!

  43. I like the current “Years” sorting which helps you tell if the products are old or if you can expect a similar standard in the hotel when you return. I think that having by airlines, by hotel chain and misc (by country and airport lounge) would be helpful too.

  44. Hi Lucky-

    I’d organize the posts by tags (meta-data) and have specific categories of meta-data that people could filter on (i.e. airline, class of service, etc.). These filters (or facets) could be check boxes on a left or top nav that would allow you to filter the list to your criteria, much like the search function of most ecommerce sites. You’d have to make sure you go back through all the reports and add in relevant meta-data to make it work.

  45. An index to recent trip reports, perhaps headlines only and sorted by date posted, would be useful. Then if I remember that I’ve seen something recently, I can find it.

    Or a search of headlines only.

  46. Hi there.

    I would love to see the page split into several tabs, each tab dedicated to a certain continent.
    Then, inside each tab, the chapters would be:
    Trip reports
    Airlines (whose origin is that specific continent)
    Airport lounges
    Hotels

    Each chapter should enable the reader to sort the items in it.

    I personally think that would make a big difference.

    Hope it helps! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Zvi.

  47. I think you are coming up against the limits of what a blogging system can provide in terms of the way that content can be displayed and searched. Especially for location reviews a system like Metro Publisher http://metropublisher.com would be a better choice as readers could for example see your reviews displayed in a map and not just as posts. You have published *a lot* of content and it’s only going to get harder to organize. A wiki would likely also be a better choice.

  48. Have the newest on top. Also separate by month because there are so many trip reports it is hard to tell what was when. I also like the second example.

  49. Just reading the Hyatt report in San Diego, I would like to be able to come back to it if I’m going to San Diego. I will never remember Grand Hyatt San Diego, so I would like for every hotel you have reviewed to come up when I search for San Diego hotels.

    Also the same with airlines. I’ll never remember which configuration of plane. I would just like to search “flight to Hong Kong” and have every flight you have reviewed come up. Keep it simple.

    Thanks.

  50. I’d say for airlines, alphabetical by airline first, then subdivide by increasing class of service. When ordering the individual trips, then have them listed chronologically from earliest to most recent. Then in the individual listing, list the aircraft and routing. I wouldn’t list by alliance, because airlines shift alliances, and some airlines are unaffiliated but later join alliances.

    For hotels, I’d first sort by country, then by city if necessary. Then I’d list by the hotel chain alphabetically. Then I’d list by hotel name alphabetically, and then if you have multiple stays at a hotel, list them out chronologically from earliest to most recent.

    For lounges, I’d first sort by country, then by city if necessary. Then I’d list by airport in alphabetical order of the airport name if necessary (since what if you have reviews of lounges at both Narita and Haneda or Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo?) Then I’d list out the individual lounges sorted by lounge name alphabetically.

    Add subdivisions and column headers/subheaders as you see fit. Then at the bottom, have a list of the trip series you have taken, chronologically from earliest to latest. Hope that helps!

  51. would like to be able to search easily by aircraft type and then of course by type of obsession (e.g. Hello Kitty) 🙂

  52. If you or a friend knows CSS then you should have filters so that viewers can organize your reports by all the factors listed. You could also implement a google search bar into your trip index.

  53. Are you limited to your current CMS? If so, I think combining a lot of the above feedback would make sense. Tag each trip report with a specific set of attributes:

    Origin
    Destination
    Connecting Cities
    Airline
    Aircraft
    Class
    Date
    Cost (miles or $)

    then

    Hotel Name
    Brand
    Chain
    Date
    Cost (miles or $)

    For each of those, have a finite set of values. That would make the site searchable. It will still require some knowledge to actually search, so maybe add an Advanced Search page that lays out the attributes and values available.

  54. Are you actually forced to stay on bordingarea.com ? Or can I help you with setting up a ‘real’ website. Then we could make an awesome trip index page allowing people to

    Another very simple option would be to use a public Google Spreadsheet where you just enter a new line item for every new report. You might want to create three separate sheets for Flights, Lounges and Hotels, though.
    From there you would add a link to the report.
    Well… before I explain too much: I started to create what I meant. As an example for the hotels first. Check it out here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sHbhgq2EQ3Z-ENK6klR14jZtRcnyL-UmFN82gHf0cvA/edit?usp=sharing

    Let me know if you like it and I can complete it and make the same for the flights and lounges.

  55. Consider adding to trip reports **** and $$$$ system where you report on ease of finding/booking hotel and air awards using * thru ****. And report on cost to redeem air awards using $ thru $$$$.

  56. I would create a searachable, filterable table with as many filters/categories as possible. Off the top of my head the things that would be most useful to include in the table would be trip name, dates of travel (month and year would suffice), regions visited, airlines, products experienced, alliance used. Each category should have a drop down list of filters.

    For example, lets say I was planning a honeymoon trip to Asia-Pacific and was trying to decide whether *A or OW made the most sense in terms of premium products. I would go to this table and select 2012 and 2013 in the year filter, Asia & Pacific in the region filter, *A and OW in the alliance filter, and J or F in the cabin filter. This would then give me all trip reports that you have published that meet the above criteria.

    Here is a simplified mock up that I threw together:

    http://i.imgur.com/U1TXCy7.png

  57. I actually googled “Cathay Pacific trip reports” for some research I was doing and a couple of your trip reports were on the list. For your followers I would organize by airline for trip reports and by city for hotel reports and lounge reports. Title your reports with all the info. Airline/hotel, city/cities, dates. Any other info really isn’t necessary as it is easily searchable by many means. I don’t find your site to be difficult to use, so Lucky, you may just be obsessing…

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