Inside travel: A new website promises to pay travellers to review their favourite places

Ben Ross talks to its creator, internet entrepreneur Simon Nixon

What does Simonseeks.com do?

We're encouraging travel writers, travel enthusiasts, local experts, concierges, ski guides and celebrities to write 800-word travel guides on their favourite places, sharing all of their inside tips – like which are their favourite hotels and why, which rooms to stay in, what the price is, where to eat, and the best things to do. It's categorised for a particular holiday – romance, culture or whatever – and the focus has to be on the budget, whether it's no-frills or luxury. We've integrated links into the editorial copy, so if a hotel, restaurant or attraction is mentioned then we compare prices to find the best deal. Any revenue made from the guide will be split 50-50 with the writer.

The site is being described as the 'YouTube of travel', yet unlike the video-streaming site you're trying to make money from content. How will that work?

YouTube is looking to integrate a monetised version of their site; I think that we've actually achieved what they're trying to do. I've learnt these skills from moneysupermarket.com [Nixon founded the price comparison site in 1999, floating it on the stock exchange in 2007. He stepped down as CEO in February, but is still vice-chairman of the company.] Don't get me wrong: we're not going into the price-comparison business, but we'll link to the best price-comparison sites and send users there.

What we're doing is inspiring people and giving them very relevant ideas for their specific circumstances. If you read a travel piece offline then you don't have the tools to book it immediately.

Are you interested in new travel writing, or is it the destinations themselves that interests you?

I want to attract the best quality writing globally. That's the absolute goal. Simonseeks transcends geography very easily. We could easily launch this in America – and we will do very soon – with thousands of guides written by British people and then encourage local American writers to publish their own guides, because people have different preferences and expectations.

How much could an Independent reader earn from having a review on your website?

We've only just launched so I can't say for certain how much a writer would earn from the website. But a booking generally will generate for us something in the region of 8-10 per cent of the total booking value, and then the writer would receive half of that. We've got over 300 professional travel journalists who have already written on our site. They've got belief in it as a concept, but also because I'm involved and I've got a history with moneysupermarket. This isn't just a hobby for me; my reputation is absolutely at stake here.

How do you vet submissions?

Anyone can upload a guide, with pictures. But rather than it going live immediately we put it through an editorial process, which is noted on our website. It's mainly vetting to check that it meets our editorial standards, because when someone reads a review on our site we want it to be of a certain quality. We publish information on how to write a guide, because if the quality and content of the writing isn't really, really good then people aren't going to go and book anything. It's also the responsibility of the writer to keep their review up to date. They're earning revenue from the guide, and if things go out of date people are going to give the review poorer results.

Won't your reviews be biased towards what's popular?

If your favourite place is the Himalayas and you write a passionate guide on the Himalayas, then it's going to be more of a niche interest. There aren't many hotels, so there's not much monetised value for that. We give people a list of all the places that are making a lot of money – like Paris and London – in our weekly email. But we also say that if people still want to write about other less-popular places then they will be published, because it's not all about money: people still want to do research on the Himalayas. It's the detail that counts. We need to know what the best room in the hotel is; why it's amazing; if the President always stays there. And you've got to include the prices. My view is that some of the top destinations, like Paris, are going to get a lot of traffic, so to get onto the first page of Simonseeks you're almost certainly going to have to include video. Photos just aren't enough; if you're going to book a romantic trip then you want to see it properly.

What's your advice for the budding Simonseeks reviewer?

We've published a section of top tips with examples of really good guides, good headings for your guide and how to break it up. What we're trying to do is to make average writers into really good writers. We're thinking about running seminars around the country, like eBay does for its Power Sellers.

Does this mark the demise of the traditional travel guide?

I don't think so. If you're going to go and tour Spain then I think you're still going to go and buy a copy of a travel guide because you want a hard copy – something you can read in bed at night. I think travel guides are going to decline as more and more info is available online, but there's always going to be a place for them. They have that sort of nitty-gritty detail that you probably wouldn't get in an 800-word guide.

For more information, go to Simonseeks.com

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?