In the past year, Janet Wass has posted an astounding 860 reviews on TripAdvisor. Her adventures have mainly consisted of visiting places all over the UK with her husband. Wherever she goes, she likes to use TripAdvisor to find hidden gems, especially local sights and historical landmarks.
Janet, a sports development administrator from Nottinghamshire, is only one of the 120 million users of TripAdvisor who have contributed to the site last year. It is her prolific reviewing that has earned her the award of the UK’s Explorer of the Year in our second annual TripAdvisor Community Awards, or as we like to call them – The Ollies.
We caught up with Janet to discuss her travel adventures, what made her start writing reviews and why the UK is a great country to explore.
What made you catch the reviewing bug?
I had been using TripAdvisor for many years to help plan my trips, but it was my daughter who encouraged me to start writing reviews. She made me realise how useful other people’s reviews had been in helping me plan various mini road-trips around the UK, and I felt I should give something back in return.
When did you realise your reviews were making an impact?
It wasn’t until I visited a fish and chip shop in Scarborough and found they had displayed a five bubble review on the wall. To my surprise, when I looked closer it was my review! That was when I began to see how much of a difference reviews make to business owners, and it spurred me on to share more experiences on TripAdvisor.
Why do you think it’s so important that business owners actively encourage guests or customers to post honest reviews on TripAdvisor?
It shows that the business cares about the feedback of its customers and for that reason, if I find a local attraction that is not listed on TripAdvisor, I make it a point of adding it to the site so it can be reviewed and the business can be recognised by the travel community.
You’ve toured a lot of the UK over the years, what was your favourite discovery?
I went to St James’ Church in Louth, Lincolnshire where I learned that the church has the tallest spire in England. Not many people know about it, but you can walk to the top of the tower and see an amazing the view of the city.
What makes the UK such a great place to explore?
The UK has a lot of local landmarks with an amazing history that we as Brits don’t always realise. I’ve often found that you can learn a lot by chatting to the locals, as many landmarks are staffed by volunteers who have a wealth of knowledge which they will enthusiastically share if you just ask.
What is your favourite part about planning a trip, and why?
I love doing the research and use TripAdvisor a lot when planning my trips. Whenever I plan a road trip, I am always looking for places to stop over on the way. For me, travelling is not about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, it is about discovering lots of interesting places and people along the way. I find the ‘top ten things to do’ lists on the site especially helpful with that as they often reveal attractions or local landmarks that I didn’t know about.
What is your best advice for writing a review?
Try to include practical tips in your reviews. For instance, I always try to provide room tips, advice on parking, the location of accommodation/attractions in comparison to other local places of interest, the best time to visit an attraction etc. – basically any factual information that might help someone plan a better trip.
What advice would you offer other travellers who are looking for clever or easy ways to save money when they travel?
Staycations! I have discovered through TripAdvisor that there are many hidden gems in the UK that are right on your doorstep just waiting to be explored. Even in my local area of Nottinghamshire, I have been pleasantly surprised by how many great places there are to visit that I never knew about before I used TripAdvisor.