How I Decide Which Companies End Up on This Site

By Nomadic Matt | Published December 7th, 2013

One of the things a few number of people brought up in my annual reader feedback survey was the question of how I choose the companies I recommend. People are curious to know why certain companies made the list and some even wondered if I only mention vendors that “support the cause” (i.e. make me money).

I think it is a great question. I haven’t really talked about this before.

Why do some companies get referenced and promoted often here on my site, while many others never even get a casual mention?

People are naturally suspicious about bloggers and online content, and it’s easy to assume that I’m recommending companies because they are paying me cash money (especially in light of my recent post on travel blogs and sponsored trips).

But that’s not how I decide.

And just what are my criteria for mentioning companies on my resource page or on my list of favorite companies?

It’s really simple:

I like and use them.

That’s it.

Every company I mention on this site is one I use or think has value to travelers, whether that is a flight search engine, hotel booking site, credit card, travel insurance company, or hostel. I have tried and used every resource I mention.

I receive a lot of offers for putting ads on this site or deals from companies that want to compensate me for mentioning and promoting them — and I turn them all down. If I don’t use a company, I won’t put them on this site. How can I? I have no idea if they are worth your time or money. If I started promoting companies just because they paid me, where’s my credibility?

Have you ever noticed that there is never a single preferred airline search site on this website? I’ve gotten lucrative offers from many companies but I’ve declined every time. There are a few good sites I recommend to start your search with, but no single one is the best all the time — and no company wants me to recommend their rivals, so I turn them all down because I can’t honestly say “only use this one site when booking a flight.” It would go against everything I’ve ever written about looking for cheap flight.

So there’s never one recommended company for flights.

Companies I recommend on this website are here because I use their products and they have proven track records. Do they all have competitors? Sure, and some are really good. Take Airbnb.com for example. There are plenty of great rental companies out there: VRBO, Homeaway, Housetrip, and Wimdu. All offer the same service. So why does Airbnb make it? Because they have the largest inventory, a good user interface, and I like them the best, so they’re on the resource page and the others aren’t.

There is nothing more to it than that.

Travel companies get mentioned here because  I love them, use them, and think they are the most useful for the type of travel I recommend.

comments 23 Comments

Your site is very inspiring.

Well said. Thanks for taking reader feedback and turning it into a post for us all!

Hey Matt,

I know from experience that working with companies to help fund my travels can be tricky. It is nice to know that you only recommend products/services that you actually use. Keep on fighting the good fight!

This is the way it should be done. How can anyone recommend a product or service they haven’t used?

I agree with you but I wonder if the same criteria is used for affiliate ads as well??

NomadicMatt

I have affiliates with some companies (if they have an affiliate program I join it just to have it) but about 75% of the companies listed on this site don’t have affiliate programs. I earn a pittance of the clicks.

If I love a company and they have an affiliate program, great! If not, oh well!

Thanks for the transparency, Matt. I too, stick to the principle of “if I haven’t been to a place or used the product personally, it’s not going to end up on my site”- I don’t know if i’m foolish to turn down a lot of offers from companies, and this goes with guest posting as well. This stubborness of mine can be a detrimental thing too because I don’t get as much exposure but I want to retain people’s trust first and foremost.

Thanks for making clear the policy that works for you. What works for me on my travel sites is to accept advertisements from any reputable company and to promote those places and services that I have used and liked with editorial comment.
Cheers,

Do you use affiliate ads, and if you do use them is the same criteria used for mentioning them on your resource page or your list favorite companies???

NomadicMatt

I don’t use affiliate ads. I have some affiliate links to the companies I like but I use the same rules I outlined here. Every link, whether affiliate or not, is to a company I use myself.

That’s a good rule of thumb, Matt. In the long run, your brand and credibility are worth more than whatever payment these companies can provide. After all, it’s so easy to lose your readers’ trust if you start to sell out.

My blog is only 2 months old, but I already got one offer for a post with a link to a certain travel booking site. I didn’t think it would help my readers much and I passed. Good to see the same principle working for an established blogger like you. :)

thanks, Matt.. this kind of post is a good reminder to me (and perhaps other bloggers) to stay true and be fair to our readers.. :)

Thanks for letting us know your policy and also for staying true to what you believe. It not only help your credibility but also helps your readers make choices they know they can trust.

I totally agree with you. It is important that we write about companies that we use. How else are we able to give honest information to our readers! Thanks for the great post.

And this is why I respect you and consider you a mentor, even though we’ve never met. As a reader, credibility and honesty is everything to me.

NomadicMatt

Thanks for such a lovely comment.

Very enlightening, really enjoyed reading about your take on this and keeping it real.

Couldn’t agree more! Great policy and it’s great to share it with your readers!

Iza

Great article matt, thanks for putting this together. I agree, I’ve seen a lot of blogs publishing just about anything on their sites. I think it’s great you only promote companies you’ve actually used. Can I ask you what web traffic tools you would recommend, I use AW stats but have read that this isn’t a very reliable tool to gauge your actual unique visitors and page views. Thanks!

NomadicMatt

Google Analytics is one of the most widely used and what I use.

Colin Brownlee

As Janice Joplin said “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you got”

Mallory

Great post and thank you for the tip on the discount for G Adventures, Matt! I just booked my first trip with them here in Australia and saved $190. Can’t wait to visit the Whitsundays and Cairns in April — love your site and keep the great recommendations coming :)

NomadicMatt

You’re welcome! Have a great trip!

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