Lonely Planet Writer

Thorn Tree: results of the 2014 annual survey

A few months ago, we invited you – the Thorn Tree and Lonely Planet community – to take part in our annual user survey, collecting data and opinions on Thorn Tree V, the latest version of our forum.

The survey ran throughout December and January, prompting a huge response.

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We received feedback from people in 127 different countries, spanning members who have been with us for more than 10 years (more than 12.5%), to recent joiners (about 15%), to those who use the forums without necessarily registering an account (roughly 8%).

Survey Graphs (1)

Age distribution was fairly evenly split above 30, showing a slightly more mature demographic within the community (matching our results from last year); travel habits, meanwhile, ranged from users who just dream about being on the road to those who never seem to leave it.

Survey Graphs (2)

Survey Graphs (3)

While more than 21% of respondents make use of Thorn Tree regularly, regardless of travel plans, at least 75% of survey submissions stated the forums were useful when planning a trip; and, of those who do use Thorn Tree while travelling, more than 57% felt it was helpful to some extent.

We also noticed that some of you may not previously have considered using the forums while on the road, with a few comments apologising and promising to try it out in the future!

Survey Graphs (4)

Destination branches still constitute the most frequently visited sections of Thorn Tree (with more than 10% of respondents visiting one or more country forums on a daily basis), followed by interest branches (with about 25% stating that they visit these forums at least once a month).

A surprising 57% of respondents have never visited us in the 'Talk to Lonely Planet' section of Thorn Tree, and an even larger percentage don’t make use of our 'Travel buddies & for sale' branches – exactly the sort of insights that help us better determine how to grow the forums in the future.

Survey Graphs (5)

We also asked the community to rate the existing features on Thorn Tree, and were pleased to discover that, on the whole, users and visitors alike were largely satisfied with the functionality… or, in a few cases, weren’t aware of the options in the first place (`EXPLORE` panel, we’re looking at you).

Survey Graphs (6)

With such a healthy level of participation – a 750% increase compared to the number of responses to last year’s survey – we gain deeper insight into the community at large, the parts of Thorn Tree that community finds most useful, and how it could potentially improve.

We will continue to analyse the feedback, work on the areas you collectively felt might be lacking, and attempt to deliver the future features identified as most important in the survey.

Survey Graphs (7)

Last year’s survey results (pdf) are still available for comparison, and a further discussion topic can also be found on Thorn Tree if you’d like to continue the conversation.

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and opinions with us – we hope that you’re as excited for the coming year as we are!