We’re charting a new course with our stories. Are you ready?

By | February 19th, 2016

How do you make your favorite advocacy site even better?

Like this:

  • Collect a ton of metrics about your best stories.
  • Listen to your readers.
  • Do something.

That’s what you expect from us. And that’s what you’re about to get.

Right now, many of the stories on this site are indistinguishable from any other travel blog. We have tips and advice, and if you look really hard, you can even find a destination story or two.

But that’s not who we are. We haven’t been that for some time, actually.

While we feature a lot of airline, car rental, cruise and hotel cases, this is not a travel site. It’s a consumer advocacy site.

Tightening our focus

I recently conducted a thorough audit of our existing stories, analyzing our traffic. I also reviewed the reader comments and letters to the editor. They strongly suggested that readers prefer the unique stories involving real consumers and real resolutions.

They were not as enthusiastic about the stories that offered random advice about travel (“10 ways to save money on spring break”).

That makes sense, because that’s what we do. We help people.

Then it occurred to me that we have more than enough source material. Every day, dozens of consumers contact us by filling out a form that explicitly gives us permission to write about them.

We should write about them.

So why are we still publishing stories about abstract topics not even related to what we do, when we have real problems to cover?

I have no idea.

How we’re going to fix it

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Change isn’t easy.

We have a roster of incredible columnists who do great work, and I need to persuade them to buy into our consumer focus. For some, it will be easy. They already have their eye on the customer. For others, it might be difficult, perhaps even impossible.

Make no mistake, I love all of our writers and want them to stay here. If they can’t, I’ll work with them to find a new home for their craft.

Here’s what our stories will look like.

✓ If we can’t decide whether to take a case, we’ll publish it under the heading Advocate This!. This is for borderline cases where our team needs your feedback. (Of course, there’ll be a ridiculous poll.)

✓ When a company tries to help but a customer still isn’t happy, we have a category for that: Is This Enough Compensation?.

✓ If we can’t or won’t handle a case, it’ll get published as a Case Dismissed! story.

✓ Resolved cases will now get published under the Problem Solved heading.

✓ All of our 9 a.m. columnists will now run under the Commentary category, but we’re encouraging them to shift their attention to real cases, in line with our laser-like focus on consumers.

This is not going to be painless, and it’s not going to happen overnight. But it’s absolutely necessary. I believe we owe it to you to cover … well, you.

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