HOW WE MAKE MONEY
HI Travel Tales is in the business of making money from its content. If we don’t make money we have no business and you will have nothing to read. We thought you would like to know that we generate income in the following ways:
- Advertising – We accept advertising on our website directly from companies, through Google Adsense affiliation, and other methods. We do not give preferential treatment in terms of glowing reviews or positive coverage, nor do we even offer editorial coverage simply because a company advertises on our site.
- Affiliate Sales – We generate income via affiliate sales relationships that may be made directly with manufacturer websites, retailer websites, or through third-party websites such as Amazon.com, Avantlink.com, AffiliateWindow.com and others. Affiliate product sales banners and advertising may appear on any page in HI Travel Tales including product reviews and be specific to the product mentioned in the review or article. The affiliate sales opportunity in no way influences whether or not a product will be reviewed or how a product is reviewed or written about.
- Affiliate Link Disclosure: While some of the links in our website are affiliate links, they are offered at no additional cost to you as a service. We recommend and offer links to products and books we have used and will continue to use ourselves because we believe you will benefit from using them too. We also offer links to products from affiliate partners we trust and believe in and that will provide you with the products and services we would recommend to our own family. We do earn a commission if you make a purchase and that helps us keep the lights on at HI Travel Tales. Michael & Therese thank you in advance for supporting this website.
- Preferred Partners – HI Travel Tales may create “preferred partner” links that feature branded logos and other information about our preferred partners. HI Travel Tales has established clear guidelines that govern how a company may become a preferred partner of our company. Once selected as eligible for “preferred partner” status, a company may then pay HI Travel Tales annual fees to ensure branded positioning and placement on our website in articles and in the preferred partner affiliate sales pages. Preferred partners must agree that HI Travel Tales editorial ethics and integrity govern all coverage of the company’s products in articles and reviews and that there is no implied preference to write about a company positively, with greater frequency, in any manner that might be construed as compromising editorial ethics, or even at all, simply because the company is a preferred partner.
- Recommended Products Whenever we review or recommend a product or a book, very often we will offer you the opportunity to purchase that item via affiliate links as covered under our Affiliate Sales notation above. These opportunities to purchase a product are offered at no additional cost to you as a service. We recommend and offer links to products and books we have used and will continue to use ourselves because we believe you will benefit from using them too. We do earn a commission if you make a purchase and that helps us keep the lights on at HI Travel Tales. For any purchase you may choose to make, we thank you in advance for supporting this website.
WHAT ARE OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMPANIES AND THE PRODUCTS WE REVIEW?
Both Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian have a well-earned relationship built on integrity and trust with many outdoor, travel and fitness industry companies and businesses – manufacturers, reps, suppliers, media and suppliers. As the former owners of SNEWS® — a leading industry news and information service for the trade in the outdoor, fitness and wintersports industries, Michael and Therese continue to serve as consultants and advisers to retailers, manufacturers, non-profits and associations in the outdoor and fitness industries. At no time do either Michael or Therese allow these relationships to color their coverage of or reporting on the industries they serve or the issues and trends discussed. That same level of personal and professional ethics and integrity is at the heart of the way Michael and Therese conduct business on HI Travel Tales. At no time do we permit advertising to influence content. At no time do we accept payment in exchange for creating content.
Since leaving SNEWS in early 2012, Michael and Therese now have paid consulting and business relationships with companies who may appear in product reviews, travel stories, and other HI Travel Tales editorial content. To view a list of companies that Michael or Therese are working with or have worked with, refer to New Normal Consulting or Therese Translates.
HOW WE TEST AND REVIEW PRODUCTS
We have long been respected for our buying advice, product reviews and product knowledge based on decades of travel and adventure. We take great pride in this reputation.
How do we get all that stuff to test?
We receive our product we test in a variety of ways, most often because a company contacted us and requested we test a product. Frequently, we receive product at no cost with the understanding we will either return the product to the company once the test is complete or donate the product to a charity. We do not sell or otherwise make money from products we have received for testing. In quite a few instances, we will pay for the product at a discounted rate (typically referred to as a professional rate) if we decide we wish to keep the product for our own use.
Do you work for the companies for which products are reviewed?
Product reviewers working for HI Travel Tales on a product review are not allowed to be sponsored by, employed by, or acting as consultants for any company for that specific product being reviewed. This does not mean HI Travel Tales contractors and employees do not work as consultants for industry companies, because we do (see section, above, on “relationships with manufacturers and suppliers”). We do, however, specifically and at all times prohibit anyone with a material relationship to a company being put in a position that may influence or otherwise affect the outcome of a product review in any manner – be it negative or positive.
So what do you do with the products you test?
While we typically arrange to send product back to a company following a review, you should know that most companies do not want the product back for a host of reasons – especially underwear and socks … eewwwww. So we arrange to give the product away — if it’s still useable — to various non-profits, schools or programs that can make good use of the products but ones who have little budget of their own needed to acquire good product. Frankly, however, many of our products can’t be passed on to others users. Real testing means many items are dirty, dented, beat up, scratched, torn or otherwise not worth much to anybody else when we are done with them. That means a piece of luggage is used for multiple trips; a pair of shoes for any number of adventures; a piece of travel clothing for many months; or a GPS for weeks.
Opinions ‘r us
Our product reviews are only opinions. We don’t claim to be mechanical engineers, biomechanists, scientists or statisticians. We use real people who use products as real users would in real scenarios, usually getting wet, cold, hot, dusty or muddy – and sometimes injured – in the name of a real test you can count on. Despite our real-world, real-user, non-scientific methods, our core team is very skilled at conducting testing – our founders have been testing product for more than 65 years, combined, and that’s not counting the users we call on for additional tests and input.
Experience by the decade
We are former mountain guides, search-and-rescue volunteers, certified fitness instructors or trainers, serious amateur athletes (and sometimes not so amateur) who have taken on challenges from the likes of the Eco Challenge to the Western States 100 Endurance Run, world travelers, to everything in between, short and long, winter and summer, hard-core and urban. We are also gearheads with closets and garages bursting at the seams and a penchant for damn good product. We question everything: Why did Company A do this? What the heck was Company B thinking when it did that? Has anybody at Company C ever thought of this? Why is this seam or zipper here and not there? What would happen if Company D did it that way?
Real-world tests for all reviews
Despite our geek-ism and perfectionism, we evaluate in the same way an everyday buyer would: Is it good? Does it work as it should? Does it fit? Does it do what it says it will do? Was it easy to understand? Did the instruction manual tell you what to do? Do you like it? Would you buy it? Would you recommend it to friends?
Often we will scrutinize a product’s claims by doing what many would see as ridiculous — standing in the shower to test a waterproof jacket, wading through rushing streams to gauge the effectiveness of waterproof shoes, pushing on a piece of exercise equipment to see if it tips over, or wearing or using something incorrectly on purpose in a way some users might … just to see what happens. We’ll test and measure the maximum length of a cable, weigh a dumbbell, or even drop or sit on (oopsie) an item that claims to be unbreakable — just to see if it really is.
Each, its own
We also never compare one product to another or rate one against another. Each is rated simply on its own merits against itself. We also make sure any one product is used by more than one person with different abilities, various levels of experience and, as appropriate, different body types, genders, ages and sizes.
HOW WE TRAVEL AND RESEARCH FOR OUR TRAVEL STORIES, PHOTOS AND ART
Although it may be common in the travel industry for writers to receive complimentary accommodation and services, we at HI Travel Tales have typically chosen to pay for our travels, including transportation, accommodations, meals, sightseeing and entertainment. We do this so we can research and experience our travels just as any reader would, without special perks and benefits and with an eye on budget. Planning and paying for a trip also allows us a certain freedom to choose what we see, how we see it, what we write about and how we go about writing our stories for you. There are times we may accept complimentary tickets, tours or meals to ensure we fully experience an area. However, free passes and media benefits will never influence how or what we write. Still, HI Travel Tales believes our readers must be made fully aware of any potentially perceived conflicts of interest. Thus, if we do receive free accommodations, transportation, press passes or other benefits, we will fully disclose those in that story. Not only informing and entertaining our readers, but also knowing they trust us will always be critically important to what HI Travel Tales does.