There’s a tremendously funny (and bloody) scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which King Arthur wishes to cross a bridge and is confronted by the belligerent Black Knight. King Arthur politely requests passage but the angry and painfully stubborn Black Knight is unrelenting. After formal negotiations break down the Knight is rendered limbless in an incredibly lopsided fight. The knight remains antagonistic to the bitter end and as King Arthur leaves he exclaims chivalrously, “Alright, we’ll call it a draw!”
Wharton recently published an excellent article (PDF file) on the ongoing debate around the merits of user-generated content (UGC) versus professional content. The article describes a pendulum of public opinion which has swung back and forth over the last few years. Turns out the pendulum is starting to settle somewhere in the middle and it’s not an either/or discussion at all. Consumers want both. Alright, let’s call it a draw!
“A hybrid approach (is) emerging that embraces both professional and amateur content. Professional content on the Web often has a user-generated component to it, whether it’s a complementary blog or a user discussion forum.”
The travel sector is a great litmus test for this hybrid approach. Today’s online travel universe contains both professional and UGC, but much of it is fragmented. On one side you find editorially-vetted destination guides, articles and news. On the other—millions of user reviews, videos, blogs, forums, groups and journals.
Our approach at TravelMuse is to begin with a foundation of articles and guide data written by experts and journalists. This fact-checked content enables our users to immediately begin planning trips. Readers can then augment this content with comments, ratings, or join the discussion on the TravelMuse blog. The goal is to harmonize the two worlds to provide more relevancy to visitors.
But unlike the Black Knight, we don’t want stubbornness to cloud our thinking and we’re open to new insights and suggestions on how to best unite these worlds. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.