I came home from TBEX last month with a head full of questions about my motives and intentions for this blog and what I’m really trying to do with it. What are parents looking for from online travel blogs and websites? What can I offer in that space (in addition to the Traveling With Kids book, of course)? One of the things that I learned while working at Amazon.com is the power of data-driven decisions and so, this weekend I spent some time looking for data on questions parents are asking online about travel with their children. Since I know that many of the readers of this blog are people who also write about travel or family travel, I thought I’d share my findings.
I started my search by looking at portal, community and social media websites for moms. The most recent data set I could find was the Nielson Power Moms report from earlier this year (May 2009) – particularly the ‘Portals and Communities’ list on the last page of the report. Since I have some issues with this data (I’d prefer something more like the Invesp.com’s Blog-Rank which shows data from known sources such as Alexa and Compete), I also used the round-up of social networking sites for moms by socialmediamom.com (from January 2008). I visited each of the websites listed on these rankings and examined their travel offering looking for data on questions or comments submitted by readers on this topic.
Unfortunately, the social networking, portal and community websites which do cover travel as a separate topic do so in a magazine-style format with a rolling list of archived posts under this topic but no further categorization and it looked like brute force (i.e. reading post after post) was going to be the only way I could come up with any initial quantitative data. Cafemom.com was a slight exception in that they also maintain a list of sub-categories: International Travel, Road Trips, Cruises, Military Travel, Disney Vacation but there wasn’t any easy way to count the number of posts, questions or comments within these topics. Finally, I hit pay-dirt with Mamapedia.com where they’ve tagged all the discussions with multiple tags. This led me to ‘Traveling & Kids‘ containing 1400+ questions – submitted by and answered by real moms – grouped into five general topics as shown in the chart above. I considered this a worthy, if small, sample to examine further.
- Using Car Seats on Trips – Particularly on Airplanes (43%)
- How to Entertain Children While Traveling (34%)
- Potty Training While Traveling (14%)
- Kid Travel Health (6%)
- Vacation Destination Recommendations (1%)
I have to admit that I’m surprised by this break-down of topics. Who would have thought that car seats would rank so highly? I’m not surprised by entertainment ranking as a ‘hot topic’ since I’m regularly asked about how I keep my boys entertained when we’re traveling (books and games and the odd electronic indulgence folks). Car seats and Entertainment account for 77% of the questions submitted whereas only 1% of questions relate to destinations or activities at those destinations. This is very intriguing. Are moms of older children (who don’t need car seats) using social media less or do they not research their vacation destinations by posting questions on discussion boards on social media websites for moms (parents)?
I believe that there is another potential data source for study of parent’s questions on family travel: the discussion boards on travel websites such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree or the Traveling With Children message board on Bootsnall. I plan to do a follow-up study using the data from these sources and compare the results in the near future.
Leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions about this little research project or any suggestions on where I could find better data to supplement it (the internet, you know, it’s never-ending…) 🙂
Handheld Video Games, Kids and Travel