In a myriad of corporate travel blogs, some good, some bad, Travel Rants stands out in its ability to engage and infuriate the industry in equal doses. Here, the man behind the blog, Darren Cronian talks about where it all began and what he thinks about the future of the industry:
Q1) How did you start Travel Rants?
I was frustrated about the travel industry after a visit to a high-street travel agency, and wanted somewhere to rant about my frustrations. I’d previously heard about blogs, so created one, and three years later, I am still ranting about the industry.
Q2) What is your background?
I’ve worked for the same organisation for 17 years. Some people would call that commitment, some would call it a sign of madness. I’ve climbed up the career ladder, and I am primarily involved in IT dealing with support, business processes and development.
Q3) Did you ever think Travel Rants would get so big?
No way, it was just a place for me to vent my frustrations and experiences, and I learnt quickly to put myself out there and network with other bloggers and the travel industry. I think there is so much more potential, the challenge for me is to raise awareness with no marketing budget.
Some would call that impossible, but I’ve done well so far.
I’ve been interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and Leeds, featured in the Guardian, Daily Express and the Independent. This year I won the Travolution award for Best UK Travel consumer blog, an award which I think has made people sit up and listen.
Q4) What’s the main appeal of the site?
People love to rant and whinge, moan, and it gives travel consumers a voice – a voice which until the internet has been hidden away. I write in my own-style, and because I do not work within the travel industry, I can write from my own experiences and be controversial from time to time.
Q5) What do you think is the biggest challenge affecting the industry at the moment?
I would say the challenge is surviving with the price of fuel rocketing and the economic slowdown. The fact that over 20 million consumers have booked their own DIY holiday this summer means that travel companies need to dip into that market and throw themselves in to the internet and social media.
Q6) With BA’s announcement of such a huge loss in profits what can the industry do to adapt in this climate?
For a start it can stop treating consumers like idiots – I am fed up of airlines creating ridiculous surcharges to help them recover from the increase in the price of fuel. Why don’t they simply increase their fares – consumers are likely to be a little more understanding of the situation that they’re in.
I’m not convinced that it’s as bigger issue as the media portrays. As much as people hate Ryanair, their business model must be pretty sound – despite loosing big profits, they can still afford to offer dirty cheap flights, and every time I visit their site, there’s a sale on.
Q7) What do you think is a Blog’s main role in the travel industry
I’m assuming your referring to corporate travel blogs – the role is to engage and communicate with customers but unfortunately not many do that. I hate to see blogs which are full of corporate talk, that don’t ask questions, have no images.
Unfortunately, the travel industry just doesn’t understand blogs or social media yet, but it’s improving.
Q8) There has been a lot of debate about the Environment and the Travel Industry’s impact on it. Do you think that the Travel Industry has a responsibility, and if so, how do you suggest it should combat damaging the Environment?
Ha, yes the industry certainly has a responsibility in my opinion to educate consumers, and together we need to be looking at how we can make the industry more environmentally friendly. It’s a huge issue and a massive challenge, and it needs each business to sit down and look at how it can improve.
I’d like to actually see a focus group set up, which involved all aspects of the industry, the media and consumers. Targeting first hotels and airlines as these seem to be the ones that are making the biggest dent in the environment.
Q9) What is the key thing, in your opinion that you can’t be without when you’re travelling?
A good book, notepad and a camera. Other than clothes, that’s all I need to go on holiday, I like to travel light. The last thing I want is to be waiting at the luggage carousel, wasting time when I want to be out there exploring the destination.
Q10) In your opinion, what are the three best places in the World to visit on a holiday?
That’s a difficult question to answer because they’re so many places that I want to visit. I’d recommend to anyone a holiday in Australia. Climb over Sydney Harbour Bridge, Jeep safari in the Blue Mountains and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef is a must.
I am going to Slovenia in September and staying in a hotel near Lake Bled which looks absolutely breathtaking. I love visiting lesser known destinations. One of my favourite destinations though is the Lake District, magnificent scenery that blows your mind. I go camping there every year.