Advantages Great variety and great earning potential
Disadvantages Hard to get the hang of at first but worth perservering
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Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Koshkha and I am a (mostly) reformed review site addict. I had it bad - really bad. I was logging on at all hours of the day or night, wandering through life with a head full of review ideas, seeing every thing that happened to me, everything I bought, everything I ate, and everywhere I went as source material for my next fix/review. A bunch of good ratings and nice comments would send me up for the day and a nasty revenge rate or spiteful comment could bring me straight back down again. Things were getting pretty desperate.Like an alcoholic I'm maybe only a few reviews away from slipping back into the habit but I think I have things under control. In fact I went two months without posting a review in the summer and I've even gone whole days without logging on. So I'm a reformed addict - but the only trouble is, getting off Ciao and dooyoo was like weaning myself off one drug by getting involved with another. I am - without question - now a trivago addict.
~ How I found trivago ~
Like so many poor souls it was an innocent enough transition. There I was, minding my own (and everyone else's) business over on the review writers forum (membership of which is almost always a sign of advanced addiction). I was splitting my time between the twin evils of Ciao and dooyoo when I read about a new travel site called trivago. One of the members invited me to join and that was that - within a few weeks I was hooked. The invitation should have come with a 'this site can change your life' warning.
The site was created by some German Ciao people who wanted to create a more travel-focused website. They probably annoyed Ciao by going as Ciao won't pay me a single penny for writing this (very long but hopefully helpful) review. However, if any Ciao members would like to join trivago after reading this, please do me a really big favour and let me invited you. I can give you the link that identifies me as the person who invited you in your guestbook or if you trust me with your email address (in the personal GB) I can send you a proper invitation. That way if you become active, I can at least earn a few shares of commission.There are currently six trivago 'platforms' - i.e. different language versions of the site. All the platforms are integrated - unlike Ciao or dooyoo where membership of a UK site doesn't give you any right to privileges on the other language sites.
The first trivago was the German platform - trivago.de - we were next with .co.uk, then the .fr and .es French and Spanish sites followed. Recently they've introduced .se for Sweden and a Polish one that's probably .po but I've never bothered to check. I believe there's an Italian version on the way as well as Bulgarian one in development.Unlike Ciao and dooyoo who also run lots of different language platforms, with trivago they are all integrated. You can write in any of the approved languages - but being a Brit, not surprisingly, I stick to English - although I do dabble a bit in approving things for the French site when they get too many tasks on their plate. The two most senior members of trivago.co.uk both also speak German and whilst you certainly don't NEED to speak other languages, if you do it can really be an advantage at times.
~ What's the point of trivago?~
The aim of trivago is to build the world's most comprehensive travel database - a place you can go to when you want to plan a trip, where you'll find not only information about hotels, but also about all the great attractions in the area. And unlike a tourist office website that will tell you that everything is absolutely fantastic, at trivago you'll get a more balanced picture.
~ So how does all that information get onto the site? ~
Easy - it's there because we put it there. The members add all the content.
~ How do I know the information is genuine? ~
There have been a lot of well-publicised cases of hotels and other tourism organisations 'spamming' some of the well known travel and review sites. Think about some of the 'reviews' you see on Ciao or dooyoo - written by someone completely new who never read or rated anything else and never came back to write another review. A month later they sign up again with a new identity and write another equally glowing review about the same topic. They aren't hard to spot. It only takes 3 or 4 glowing reports written by the hotel itself or their PR company or a few really bad ones written by the hotel down the road that wants their business to skew the ratings of a hotel. This can't happen at trivago.
~ How's trivago different from the review sites? ~
A lot of members come to trivago from review sites like Ciao and dooyoo. Others find us from tripadvisor. Most come because they are looking for somewhere else that they can post their travel reviews. But once you arrive you'll soon learn that it's a very different place from the review sites and writing reviews is just a tiny part of what you can do on trivago.
Secondly you can't leave - or receive - comments on reviews although apparently that's about to change very soon. You just get a straight percentage rating. In the early days after joining, many refugees from the review sites find that lack of feedback to be intensely frustrating but after a while it actually becomes quite refreshing to not have to leave or receive feedback.Thirdly, you can only review specific hotels and attractions - you can't for example write a review about your weekend in Madrid. Instead you'd need to write separate reviews for your hotel, the museum you went to and the restaurant that you really enjoyed although you can then write a 'travel guide' that integrates all the other items.
Fourthly, you'll never get rich by writing reviews (no change from the review sites there) and you'll never get beyond level 3 if all you do is post reviews. And that's where the big difference comes in - with trivago, there are always lots of different tasks to take part in.But the good news is, you can make a lot more money on trivago by doing other tasks.
~ So if it's not just adding reviews, what else can I do? ~Photos - for each of the hotels or attractions that are on the site, a member can add up to five of their own personal photos and earn up to 100 shares for each. Until recently we all added photos and they just disappeared into a 'black hole' and were rarely ever viewed by other members. Earlier in the summer photo rating was introduced and the quality and visibility of photos shot up on the back of a two month competition in which the best photos were selected each week on the basis of peer voting. Everyone can earn shares for rating other people's photos.
Weblinks - for each attraction or hotel on trivago, you can add links to websites that might be interesting to other members. Weblinks are easy to find and quite fun to do but are worth a maximum of just 50 shares. I think this is a shame and I believe that the effort that goes into finding good weblinks is undervalued by the site.External Reviews - trivago members can't visit all the hotels, restaurants, museums and attractions themselves so we gather the opinions of others and add their ratings to the site. "External Review" - these are the two words that strike fear into the hearts of many new members. ER's as they are known are bizarre and frustrating - an exercise in gathering quotations from other people's reviews (in guidebooks, travel websites, magazines and newspapers) and transposing the key points of those reviews in your own words around the quotations.
Database maintenance - if you spot a mistake on the site, tell the database administrators. Not only will they put it right, but you'll get shares for telling them.Adding hotels and attractions - you can add content to existing items that are in the database, but life gets more interesting when you start adding your own items. It's not like the review sites where you just ask someone to add a hotel so you can write about it - you have to add all the information yourself. Adding hotels - or completing the details for hotels already added - carries one of the highest share values because the hotels generate the site income.
Competitions - there are always competitions and challenges running to encourage certain activities. For example when I first joined it was the season for people to think about booking their winter holidays so bonus shares were on offer for activities related to winter-sports resortsNewsletter - I've just edited the October newsletter. I've been contributing for the last few months but this time I had to learn the website formatting for the layout, bully members to write articles, edit those articles and build a structure for them to sit in. It was hard but fun.
~ I've joined - what happens next?~
Firstly you'll be assigned a mentor to ease your way into the site. Your mentor can help you immeasurably. They will answer all your daftest questions, show you where to put your photos and reviews, teach you how to add new items and explain some of the weird norms of trivago behaviour.
It's a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest - if you don't play nice with the other kids, you'll never progress. Sometimes I wish this same system applied on some of the other sites!~ Tell me more about the levels ~
You join at L1 and after posting a couple of reviews or some photos you'll soon have the 250 points needed to get promoted to L2. All it takes is for 5 members of a higher level to give their votes for your promotion. Promotion to L3 is also based just on achieving a certain number of shares. When you start thinking about L4 things get more tricky - you have to get not only the qualifying number of shares, but also to have done the prescribed set of activities - in this case a certain number of weblinks, external reviews, attractions and hotels. Even if you get all of those things, promotion isn't automatic - you won't get promoted if (for example) your English is really poor or you haven't been able to show that you actually understand how the site work.L4 gives the right to rate other people's reviews, L5 to approve weblinks and external reviews and L6 gives the right to approve hotels and attractions. Approval work earns shares just like adding content does.
~What are these shares and how do they work?~
Every action has a maximum share value and the shares determine - in part - how much you earn. Unlike some sites where there's a fixed payment for each thing that you do, there are two elements to trivago payouts. Firstly how active you are as a user and hence how many shares you earn, and secondly how successful the site is in generating income.
~How do I get paid?~
Payment is a bit long-winded. At the end of each 2-month period, all the shares are converted into 'money' and added to your 'account'. If you have a balance of more than €25 on your account you can claim a payment. Transfer of the money takes approximately 2 months. Yes, that's a long time but bear in mind that sites like Ciao can take 6 weeks or more to make transfers depending on when you put your claim in. The payments take time because trivago has to first get paid by its booking partners before they can pay the members.
~So how much can you earn?~
If your written English is good, you understand how the site works and you don't do anything stupid, nasty or aggressive to piss-off the higher level members who control promotions, you can earn substantial amounts of money. My mentor actually gave up his job to concentrate on trivago as his main source of income but that's certainly not normal (and he lives in a country with a much lower cost of living). I have made as much as £160 in a period but I worked hard for that. I've been too busy to do much the past few weeks but despite that I'll probably clear £90-100 for the current period - and a large part of that is commission on the activity of one of my invited friends and a couple of my mentees. I was lucky that one of my mentees became the platform manager for the Swedish trivago and she generates a lot of extra shares. I also edited the newsletter and won a review writing competion and both those activities really boosted my shares. In my first year I will have cleared £500-600 which compares very well with what can be earned writing reviews.
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