Monday, April 20, 2015

Bad travel blogging abounds. (Vegas Travel Edition)

So much bad travel blogging so little time.

Have you seen this?

Vegas Noob? 20 Things you must know before arriving.

There are a lot of hotels in Las Vegas and choosing the right one can be difficult.
The way I see it, you have 3 options:
Pick the cheapest one (trust me, you don’t want to do this)
Comb through travel forums and take advice from total strangers
Check out Bryce’s color-coded map below this list

"The list" (go read the whole post) is a rather simplistic attempt to categorize Vegas hotels based on location.  The short version of this is "only stay in the middle of the strip when you come to Vegas".  That's fair advice, but not exactly relevant nor does it really establish the many reasons one might choose to stay in any of the many Vegas casinos.

But Vegas information, especially from bloggers, is always bad.  Always. Either they assume that you want from Vegas the same things that they do or they try and guess what you want to get out of the trip and are 100% wrong.  Unlike political bloggers (and most points/miles bloggers) I don't think they do this because of kick-backs (in most cases) I just don't think that the Vegas "insider" really understands why people come to Vegas in the first place.

It's all about having fun.  Most people don't come to Vegas specifically to gamble, but most end up doing so when they get there.  As a matter of fact, a recent survey revealed that only 4% of first time Vegas visitors come to the town specifically to gamble but, once there, over 70% end up wagering. A lot of visitors see shows, and a lot of people go to nightclubs. Oh, and you're probably shopping and just sightseeing as well when you're in town.

The dirty secret about Vegas is that, honestly, as long as you're either staying on The Strip or near Freemont Street, where you stay is merely a matter of price preference, because you can get anywhere fairly cheaply and easily using either cabs, public transportation or walking.

That said there are pros and cons to almost every hotel in Vegas, depending on what you're looking for. To try and say that there are "zones" to shoot for or avoid is really nonsensical.  Take Circus Circus as an example.  It's an older property in zone 3, which according to the "chart" you should always avoid.  However, I'm willing to bet, if you have children, this casino should be on the top of your list. The primary reason for this is The Adventuredome and the live circus acts and Midway which kids love. Then you have Excalibur which has the Fun Dungeon which kids also love. So, if you travel with the kiddies both of these hotels should be on the top of your list not "zone 3" places to avoid.

If you're a sports bettor you might consider staying at the Westgate which houses the SuperBook. If you follow the guidance to "never stay in a hotel off the strip" you'll be some distance from Las Vegas' premier sports book.

Advice of this type is becoming more and more prevalent among travel bloggers. There are, to be truthful, a lot of kick-backs that these folks receive which leads them to make odd recommendations most of the time.  This blog, unfortunately, is too small too receive anything like that so I hope that I'm always offering the best advice possible, in a fair and even-handed manner.  Even IF I had the readership to pull in endorsement money I'd like to think that I wouldn't.  For one, I have a day job that pays well and secondly, I find the endless "click my affiliate links" posts that most points/mileage bloggers are writing now to be incredibly boring.  One guy even blogged about applying for a credit card which allowed him to provide 21 separate affiliate links within one post. The saddest part about that is I'm not even sure it's a record.

There was a time that miles/points bloggers made sense, offered good travel information and did a pretty good job keeping up with the various loyalty programs. This was before they became thought leaders (no really) and compensated pitchmen for the affiliate credit-card industry. In fact, even when they were blogging about aspirational awards they STILL had SOME value. The problem now is that when they're slaves to content. So you get a ton of affiliate links and pictures of lounges, selfies in airplane restrooms (which are as creepy as they sound) and tons and tons of carping about mileage devaluations.

Over the weekend, for some odd reason, I did a lot of travel/miles/points blog reading. My takeaway from this was that, for many of the reasons noted above, the industry as a whole is almost dead. I'm not sure what the fix is, and I'm almost certain that this little blog isn't going to stem the tide. I just hope I don't ever contribute to the downfall. (of course, some might say that I already am)

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