Review sites have become an essential part of modern day travel and restaurant culture.
But one Hong Kong-based traveler is going above and beyond to help fellow tourists make truly informed travel decisions—whether its visiting a major landmark or checking out the local McDonald’s.
“I have always written about my travels. I have quite a few old travel journals and it’s really funny to see what I thought was interesting over 20 years ago.”
Brad Reynolds has contributed to review site TripAdvisor over 66,000 times, including witting 3,300 reviews and uploading over 40,000 pictures. He's the site's most prolific reviewer. But keeping track of trips is something Reynolds has done before the era of crowd-sourced tips.
“I have always written about my travels. I have quite a few old travel journals and it’s really funny to see what I thought was interesting over 20 years ago,” Reynolds told FoxNews.com. While a lot of people focus on reviewing as a means to help others, Reynolds feels like he benefits as much as readers of his prolific posts.
“From a personal perspective, writing things down is quite satisfactory. It becomes more difficult to recall certain details later and having a record is a wonderful way to look back on experiences.”
Originally from Edmond, Oklahoma, Reynolds has now lived in Hong Kong for nine years with his wife, Jill. The couple loves to travel, taking small trips every few weeks and four sizeable trips every year. Living on a small island means that any trip taken involves a flight—further encouraging his travel habit.
Reynolds starting using TripAdvisor in 2009 and soon found it immensely valuable as a “real time” resource.
“In my early years I was highly dependent on travel books which are often written a year later,” says Reynolds. “But in many places, especially Southeast Asia, things can change so quickly in just a few months…Having access to real time information is something we’ve found extremely useful while on the road, so I feel really good about giving back because I see the benefit.”
TripAdvisor, which has been around since 2000, just passed a major milestone with over 200 million reviews submitted. The company says they now receive about 125 new contributions ever minute.
Reynolds says he writes one or two a day—depending on his schedule. And no locale is off limits for this writer. Instead of just focusing on the major sites or local hot spots, Reynolds even reviews locations like Starbucks or McDonald’s-- but he says even those eateries can shed some unique insight on local culture.
“Fast food changes everywhere in the world. A Hong Kong in McDonald’s is very different than one in India,” Reynolds says, noting that Indian McDonald’s don’t serve beef and in Hong Kong, McDonald’s operate on a deli counter-like ticket system—which can be confusing to foreigners.
Though he writes most of the reviews himself, Reynolds says he wouldn’t be able to provide as much information with his wife who not only looks over many of his posts, as a fact-and-memory checker, but acts as his photographer, taking most of the pictures. His TripAdvisor name—“BradJill”—speaks to the team effort.
And while Reynolds is grateful for his travel experiences, he says his most valuable posts are about places from his adopted hometown. He’s posted over 19,000 items on Hong Kong and says he fields many questions from would-be travelers.
“It’s not just about traveling,” Reynolds notes. “People can become experts in their home cities so I would really encourage users to review their hometown so others can get a local’s perspective on what to see and do—which is really a great way to share insight.”