With more than 120 million members, travellers from around the globe come to TripAdvisor to share their experiences. We know how helpful reviews are to other travellers, and how much time and energy it takes to write them, which is why each year we like to recognise those who give back to the community the most. Our recently announced Ollie Awards, which are named after our TripAdvisor mascot Ollie the Owl, highlight the most prolific travel reviewers from the past year.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting some of the UK winners’ stories on the TripAdvisor UK Blog, giving you an insight into their best travel tales and tips.
First up is the UK Review Contributor of the Year, awarded to the TripAdvisor UK member who submitted the most published reviews in the past year. The winner of this award is an Ollies veteran, having won the title of Review Contributor of the Year back in 2015 as well!
Name: Stephen Kelly
TripAdvisor Username: 918stephenk
Ollie Awards Received:
UK’s Review Contributor of the Year – more than 980 reviews in 2016
UK’s Restaurant Expert of the Year – more than 800 reviews in 2016
Home town: Kirkby, England
When and why did you start using TripAdvisor?
I started using TripAdvisor about two years ago purely out of curiosity because I used to see the TripAdvisor sticker in the window of restaurants and pubs that I visited.
How many countries / continents have you visited?
Well over 30 countries – all in Europe so far.
What do you like the most about travelling?
Meeting new people, experiencing new customs, visiting places that are different from where I’m from. I find the simplest things the most interesting – something like a traffic light for example can be so different from place to place and it’s these kind of things that we take for granted when we see them every day at home. I also always admire how public transport works better abroad – it’s far more efficient and cheaper.
Do you have a favourite destination?
Poland is my favourite country and Krakow is my favourite destination. However, Moscow is also one of the best places I have been to but it was a bit daunting. I got lost on the metro for about an hour but loved it once I got my bearings!
Tell me about the best place (hotel, restaurant or attraction) you’ve discovered using TripAdvisor?
I went to a brewery in Prague called U Fleku. It’s the oldest brewery in Europe and serves amazing food and beer. I went specifically because of a TripAdvisor review I had seen so probably wouldn’t have discovered it otherwise.
Do you have a travel horror story?
A few things have happened on my travels! Halfway through one plane journey a doctor was called on board to help someone who had fallen ill and the same thing happened on the way back – what are the odds of that!? Another time I was on a plane and the landing was aborted – when we finally did land there was a fire engine following close behind us which wasn’t very reassuring!
What type of traveller would you describe yourself as (e.g. adventurous, luxury, beach, hometown explorer, etc.)?
City traveller first and foremost but I do also like a beach holiday.
What is your favourite part about planning a trip, and why?
The research! 90% of the reviews I write are positive because of the research that I do beforehand – I know what I am walking into so my expectations are set.
What is your best advice for writing a review?
Try to include useful, factual information that will help other travellers. For instance, I always try and walk the reader to the restaurant, hotel or attraction by giving good directions in my review, including detail on how to get there, public transport options, that type of thing. I also include things like opening times as these aren’t always easy to find.
What advice would you offer other travellers who are looking for clever or easy ways to save money when they travel?
To save money I would suggest studying up on public transport at the destination you’re visiting – this saves so much money on cabs. Secondly, pubs and bars often advertise happy hours – look these up before you go and take advantage of any offers that they have. In addition, lots of restaurants offer set meals, often for a fraction of the price, so choose these when you can.