We’re proud of the fact that we host one of the oldest and most diverse online travel communities. Whether you want recommendations on beaches in Albania or road trips in Ethiopia, you can find the advice you need on Thorn Tree, and connect with like-minded travellers at the same time.
In 2014 we’re doing a long-overdue overhaul of the systems keeping Thorn Tree running. The forums were last given a tech makeover in 2006, which makes them pretty long in the tooth in internet years. In the last few years, with other changes to lonelyplanet.com, Thorn Tree has become increasingly unstable, often making it a poor user experience for our members. A new system is a necessity if we want to safeguard the future of our community, as well as an opportunity to improve the experience for members.
With that in mind, we thought we’d take the opportunity before we switch over to the new Thorn Tree to take the temperature of our community. Who exactly are the regular users of Thorn Tree in 2013? How do they participate in our community, and what do they think of the current forum functionality? What should we do in the future? We were overwhelmed by the response we received. While it’s important to note that the survey was mostly completed by regular Thorn Tree users and doesn’t necessarily capture the lurkers or casual visitors, we think the results present a reasonable picture of our community and how it’s feeling at the moment.
Here’s some of the headlines:
An engaged, vocal travel community – 78% of respondents access the destination branches of Thorn Tree at least weekly, 37% on a daily basis
.. but not so much in the non-destination branches – 81% never access the Sell, Swap, Meet Up branches, indicating that this is for new and one-time only visitors. Almost a quarter of respondents never visit The Lobby.
Usage – 75% of respondents use TT all the time, even when not travelling or planning a trip.
Location – two-thirds (66%) of respondents are normally resident in Australia, Canada, UK or USA. Other significant TT populations include Thailand, Germany, India , Italy and France. Dissatisfaction with current TT functionality – there’s a level of dissatisfaction with current features, which we were expecting due to our old, creaky website. 31% of respondents were somewhat dissatisfied with Thorn Tree’s search function.
The majority of respondents find Thorn Tree helpful in some way when planning travel – 55% said they find TT ‘very helpful’, and 34% said ‘somewhat helpful’ when planning a trip.
.. but not so helpful when travelling. 24% find TT very helpful and 37% somewhat helpful when on the road.
Location – two-thirds (66%) of respondents are normally resident in Australia, Canada, UK or USA. Other significant TT populations include Thailand, Germany, India, Italy and France.
96% of respondents say that they access TT on a laptop or desktop computer. However, a significant number of the same group also access TT on a tablet (30% of overall respondents) …read more