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20 replies
Eurotrip Planning Feature: Feedback
swill
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I have recently rolled out our new Eurotrip Planning tool and I would like your feedback. Please do not be shy because I really want to know what you think.

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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luv_the_beach
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Hey Swill

I think you do a fantastic maintaining and caring about the site!

The Eurotrip Planning forum is a great idea, and it certainly has been bringing newbies into the forums. Apparently a hell of a lot of people visit the site, but few of those people posted before the addition of the new forum.

As the forum has been given some time to operate now, (about a week), I’m starting to notice some flaws. Frown

I originally thought that the new forum was for newbies to get ideas about where to go (in Europe) and how to plan their itineraries. But I just noticed that the description of the forum (posted in the forum itself) invites newbies to post their itinerary so that veterans can give them advice on specific hostels, bars, pubs, restaurants, etc. And indeed I think that this is what a lot (if not most) newbies who post in that forum expect from us. (I don’t think they expect itinerary and transport advice). However, it’s an unrealistic expectation if newbies think that veterans will be able to list a bunch of restaurants, bars, and clubs for them. No one remembers the names of restaurants they’ve eaten at (practically no one even notices the name of a restaurant when traveling), and no one will remember the names of any clubs and bars unless they lived in a particular city and frequented certain bars (and knew of certain clubs), and even then, clubs come and go. Looking at eurotrip history, whenever someone posts for specific bar/club/restaurant suggestions, they almost never get a response. What is realistic, however: we can suggest what towns/regions or districts of a big city they can go to for nightlife or good restaurants. Hostels and hotel suggestions are a little easier; sometimes there’s hostels that forever stay in your memory. But these too are not possible much of the time. And the bars/clubs/restaurants expection is definitely unrealistic.

Second “design flaw” I’ve noticed about the new forum, is that it’s being bombarded on a daily basis with far too many threads than we can get to (and very many of these threads, I don’t think that the newbie checks back to read our responses. At least they never leave any feedback letting me know that they did, which makes me think that perhaps I’m wasting my time). And most of these threads are posted by people who have not looked at the existing threads to get ideas before posting their own question. Basically, people are asking questions that have already been answered. Which is normally not a big deal, but we’re now being bombarded with these repeat questions, which are then going unanswered. I think that newbies are under the impression that they have nothing to learn from other people’s previous questions and itineraries, and that each of their backpacking trips is unique, meriting unique responses (which is not that case. the vast majority of itineraries posted by newbies resemble itineraries posted by newbies in the past.) Of course, I now see a greater need for the favor you asked me last week: to post several suggested itineraries. Definitely let me know how I can help (where should I post these? Will it be a “sticky” thread??) Smile

Thanks for listening swill!!


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swill
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Hey LTB,
Thanks for the great feedback. This is really the stuff I need to hear. There is only so much I can foresee and plan for when I am building this stuff because I am not a backpacking vet like most of you guys. Sorry it took me a couple days to get to this, I am on vacation right now and have not been checking in as much as usual.

In general I think it is a positive thing that we have been getting more people interested in eurotrip, but at the same time it puts a little more pressure on me to address the usability issues that you all find.

In an attempt to put us on the same page, I will give a little bit of a breakdown of what I am trying to build with this planning tool and how I have envisioned it all coming together. We are probably coming from totally different sides of the problem, but hopefully with your feedback we will be able to meet happily in the middle.

The version of the forum/tool that I have launched and is live right now is the building blocks for what I want to turn it into. With this version we were trying to find a way to make the planning process a little easier as well as making the ‘trip’ a little more central. So far it has been a success, but there are issues.

Here is a list of features that we would like to roll out in the very near future, but this list is subject to change/evolve based on what we learn from our current version.

Book Hostels – I have been working with the hostelbookers.com API so that I can show the available hostels in each of the cities that you are planning to travel to. Since I know what days the traveler is planning to stay in a city, I can show what hostels will be available and can be booked from that page.

Add other traveler’s favorites – As you know, I previously added a ‘Favorite Places’ feature. The idea is that when you add a city, other traveler’s favorite places will be shown to you so you can add them to your trip. for example – i am going to london, so i want to go to buckingham palace (it will give a map, directions, a description, etc…)

City specific commenting – I am planning to add a little drop down box to the comments for a trip that allow you to select a specific city to comment on. So if you have suggestions for a specific city, you would select it, and it would be visually associated with that city. It may also be available to other travelers who are going to that city. so for example, if you comment on corfu in someones itinerary, it could also show up in another travelers itinerary who has corfu in their trip. all the logistics for this are not totally worked out, but this is an attempt to minimize the number of times you have to answer the same questions regarding specific cities. (if you have feedback i would love to hear it).

Trip specific printable guide – When you are actually going on the trip, you will have an option to ‘print off my guide’ which will be a printer friendly version of your trip (including hostels, favorite places, city comments, etc). This allows you to take all of the information you collected on eurotrip with you. I think this would have been useful when I was on the road.

Clone a trip – Theoretically, we should have some recommended trips that people like you have put together that travelers can start from. This is why I was hoping you could add those suggestions. I am going to add a ‘clone’ feature, so that you can find at trip you like and then clone it to your own trip. Once you have a copy if it, you can modify it as you feel necessary and make it your own.

Railpass suggestions – We are hoping to offer a railpass suggestion tool that will specify the best railpass for a trip (with a specific order, or you can allow it to modify the order of the trip if it can do it for cheaper). This is still in the planning phase, but we feel would be useful…

Many other things has been suggested, debated and are somewhat on the burner. If you think there are other things that would be useful, I would love to hear them. If you feel we are going in a direction that is not beneficial to travelers or the community in general, please let me know, I need feedback.

In terms of where to put the trips. Right now I do not have a good answer. I think if the trips are there, then we can sticky them or signify them in some way. We may want to just use a specific naming convention initially so I know which ones they are and I will take care of it as I put together the features to make them more prominent.

Mim and I are trying to determine the best way to deal with the presentation of trips that need feedback, have received feedback, etc… Hopefully we will be able to come up with something that works.

Again, I really appreciate your feedback, it is invaluable for me. If you want to follow up on what I have put in this, please do.

Cheers and Happy Holidays,

Swill

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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skyewakefield
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I can only add a certain amount of stops on my trip and it wont save any further is there a reason and a way to add more

I am leaving from Australia with $8700 for 155 days
London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, Monaco, Florence, Rome, Athens, Mýkonos, Dubrovnik, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Lucerne, Dubrovnik, Split
oldlady
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Quote:
I don’t think that the newbie checks back to read our responses. At least they never leave any feedback letting me know that they did, which makes me think that perhaps I’m wasting my time). And most of these threads are posted by people who have not looked at the existing threads to get ideas before posting their own question.
That is really frustrating. Of course it happens in the regular forums, too, but not as often. Sometimes it seems like 2 or 3 of “us veterans” are talking to each other and the poster has decided to go to South Padre instead. I don’t know if there’s some way to stress Etiquette — or at least that saying “Thank You” pushes your post back to the top where people are more likely to see it?

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And I forgot — Is there something about the way you enter a trip that results in all these “21 cities in 7 countries in 21 days” itineraries? I can’t imagine all these people really think they’re going to spend 1 night in Madrid followed by 1 night in Rome. Some of the trips are physically impossible and many (most??) are ridiculously rushed, which means most of the comments are negative. Maybe the newbies are put off by only getting a single “this is crazy” comment?

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oldlady wrote:
And I forgot — Is there something about the way you enter a trip that results in all these “21 cities in 7 countries in 21 days” itineraries? I can’t imagine all these people really think they’re going to spend 1 night in Madrid followed by 1 night in Rome. Some of the trips are physically impossible and many (most??) are ridiculously rushed, which means most of the comments are negative. Maybe the newbies are put off by only getting a single “this is crazy” comment?

Got to agree with oldlady on this part, As I myself have responded to a number of trip’s with just a simple answer saying “cut the destination’s by half…..” style comment or “consider adjacent country’s for shorter trips”. And on writing such comment’s I do feel I am being negative towards trips, but there is not a better answer i can give.

I am leaving from Glasgow, United Kingdom and traveling for 15 days
Athens, Páros, Náxos, Mýkonos, Náxos, Íos, Thíra
Requesting help with Transport, Nightlife, Food, Sights

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

swill
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skyewakefield wrote:
I can only add a certain amount of stops on my trip and it wont save any further is there a reason and a way to add more

i have not run into this issue. can you tell me what browser and operating system you are using. i will look into it. roughly how many cities have you added when it stops working? i have seen some trips with over 60 cities…

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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swill
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almost all the trips i see i think ‘wow they are trying to do way too much’. i don’t think it is the application it self that draws that out, but an overzealous traveler. when i tried to plan my first trip i put in way too much, and even what i did was modified from what i planned to do. do you have suggestions regarding how to improve this?

maybe something like this would help: when you enter cities, it keeps track of the average number of days you are staying in the cities. if your average is less than 2 the trip is impossible. if it is between 2 and 3, it is possible but difficult. if it is greater than 3 days it is well planned… does this make sense? this may flag more of the ‘this is totally insane’ trips so that people realize they are doing too much and modify it. do you guys have other suggestions?

in regards to the etiquette, i am not really sure what to say. do we think that pushing the trip higher in the list is going to make people have better etiquette? should we explicitly say on there somewhere: please be aware that people are taking time to help you, so be gracious and respectful.
think that would help?

you guys may have noticed that i have changed the weight of the trips a bit. basically, if someone does not enter a comment looking for help, their trip falls right to the bottom of the pile. if people are active in their trip, the trip gets pushed to the top. i thought that helped, but it was a temporary fix.

i am very close to launching some new features that hopefully will fix some of these issues. i am having users enter what they want feedback on and then adding searching functionality so that people can search for specific feedback requests. here are a couple screen shots. let me know if you think i am missing something or if you notice improvements…

requesting info from the user

searching eurotrips

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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mim
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Quote:
maybe something like this would help: when you enter cities, it keeps track of the average number of days you are staying in the cities. if your average is less than 2 the trip is impossible. if it is between 2 and 3, it is possible but difficult. if it is greater than 3 days it is well planned… does this make sense? this may flag more of the ‘this is totally insane’ trips so that people realize they are doing too much and modify it. do you guys have other suggestions

The problem is that is is not always the case. Case in point, Venice is definitely doable in a day or two and has no reason to be flagged… Also, a alot of the time it’s not necessarily the amount of time in each city, but a really long train ride to the next destination that screws up their itinerary.

I am leaving from New York, NY and traveling for 64 days
Reykjavik, London, Lille, Berlin, Kraków, Lviv, Istanbul, Selçuk, Pamukkale, Kızkalesi, Göreme, Kars, Bat'umi, Akhalts'ikhe, Tbilisi, Telavi, Istanbul

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swill
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it does not target the trips that have one or two stops that are only 1 day. when you average over 7 to 10 cities, those one or two stops dont hold that much weight. it is targeted at the itineraries that are made up of 5 or 10 stops being 1 day. it really is targeting trips that are trying to sustain 1 or 2 day stops for their whole trip. i agree it is not totally foolproof, but it may be a concept that could give some initial feedback.

keeping in mind that some countries are bigger than others, etc, etc… BUT, what if we did something like this. create a formula that takes into account the number of cities, number of days, the number of countries and “roughly” the distance between stops. (basically, it is considered a long distance if you switch countries).

i am thinking on the spot right now, but maybe something like this:
(total days – countries) / (cities) : if this is less than 2, its not possible. between 2 and 3, tough. greater than 3, good. (i would need to go through a bunch of examples to fine tune the numbers).

basically this is what i am thinking. every country switch is a loss of a day. then take that and calculate the average time in a city with the remaining days. its a crude algorithm, but it may work. other ideas? does it need more considerations?

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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oldlady
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I think your algorithm will help a lot. How about a way to list alternate cities? Either “Rome or Florence” in the plan (maybe marking what’s listed first on the map) or a listing of “other cities I’d like to visit” that’s separate from the plan?

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Thanks for replying. I can save 12 trips and then it wont save a 13th. Im not sure what a browser and operating system is, would it be Windows Internet Explorer/ Windows XP/ or do you mean optus broadband. I hope one of these is right. Thanks

I am leaving from Australia with $8700 for 155 days
London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, Monaco, Florence, Rome, Athens, Mýkonos, Dubrovnik, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Lucerne, Dubrovnik, Split
swill
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skyewakefield, can you try with firefox. i am not on windows, so i have only been able to do limited testing on internet explorer.

is it always the same city that is causing the problem? if so, what is the city…

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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swill
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oldlady wrote:
I think your algorithm will help a lot. How about a way to list alternate cities? Either “Rome or Florence” in the plan (maybe marking what’s listed first on the map) or a listing of “other cities I’d like to visit” that’s separate from the plan?

i think that the ‘alternate cities’ or ‘possible cities’ would be valuable, but i still have not figured out how to implement it. i will think of some options, but if you have suggestions i would be interested.

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

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dietsoda
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swill wrote:
I have recently rolled out our new Eurotrip Planning tool and I would like your feedback. Please do not be shy because I really want to know what you think.

Hi Swill! I suggest you include SHOPPING in your forum facility?

oldlady
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Quote:
Hi Swill! I suggest you include SHOPPING in your forum facility?
I think that would get less traffic than “guidebooks” and “solo women.” We’re budget travelers here. Who can afford to shop in Europe?? Most of us are from US and Canada. Is there anything we can buy in Europe that isn’t available at 1/2 the price at home or on-line?

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Im on another computer that already has fire fox and its working now, so ill download it on mine. Thanks for that Swill. One more question is it possible to change it to the AUD dollar instead of American. Thanks again.

I am leaving from Australia with $8700 for 155 days
London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, Monaco, Florence, Rome, Athens, Mýkonos, Dubrovnik, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Lucerne, Dubrovnik, Split
dietsoda
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I’ve always wanted something that will remind me of the country I visited. Isn’t it great that whenever you see that ‘thing’you bought, you will be reminded of your travels abroad? Wink Guess Eurotrip members can suggest what to buy (of course at reasonable prices)…yknow, things that are unique and could hardly be bought outside? Smile

Yes, we are budget travellers because we want to spend our money wisely. Isn’t it, Oldlady? I am sure you’ll agree with me.

swill
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skyewakefield wrote:
Im on another computer that already has fire fox and its working now, so ill download it on mine. Thanks for that Swill. One more question is it possible to change it to the AUD dollar instead of American. Thanks again.

Thanks for letting me know. I will see if I can figure out why IE is having issues.

I currently do not have a way to check exchange rates on the fly, but it is on my list of things to figure out. Smile

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

Eurotrip Developer

swill
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I have done a pretty major upgrade of the Eurotrip Planning tool. You can get an overview of the changes here

I am leaving from Montreal, Canada with $1600 for 16 days
Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, Paris

Eurotrip Developer