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November 20, 2013 / A Mindful Traveler

Goodbye To IgoUgo

Ljubljana in Winter

Ljubljana, Slovenia in Winter

Almost a decade ago, while recovering from an illness, I was casually perusing the Rough Guides website.  I happened to stumble upon a “community” called IgoUgo, which consisted of user-submited guidebook-style reviews and articles.  Some looked extremely professional and I was surprised that Lithuania, which I had visited that summer, barely received a mention.  I therefore submitted a few photographs and reviews, and received both an email thanking me and suggesting improvements, and a few “Go Points” that I would later end up converting into gift certificates I used to buy books.

With little else to do, I continued submitting reviews, and eventually I began to hear from other users.  I developed a reputation and in time the highest average editorial rating on the site.  More importantly, doing so let me think about both travel and writing when going up and down stairs was at times something of a challenge.  Later, after I got better, I traveled to Croatia, Slovenia, and Spain, and ended up being offered the opportunity to go on a press trip.  By that point, however, I had returned to law school and had to decline.  I learned that I’d won IgoUgo’s Member of the Year Award when I found my inbox filled with a flurry of emails after a Property lecture.  I felt at the time I had everything.  These days when I read the work of travel bloggers I wonder if I made the correct decision.

Years later, having left the legal profession, I returned to both travel and IgoUgo and was warmly welcomed back.  I’ve intermittently posted thousands of photographs since then, often using them, in modified form, for entries on this blog.  I haven’t been a frequent visitor since, perhaps because there seem to have been ever fewer new contributions.  Nonetheless, I felt a twinge of nostalgia whenever I uploaded new photographs, as well as quiet satisfaction that my occasional accrual of enough points for a book certificates meant that I’d managed to earn some reward for my travel-related creativity.  So it’s with sadness that I received another email from the site this week, informing me that it was closing its doors.  I wasn’t attached to IgoUgo in the conventional sense, never had any physical interaction with it besides receiving a few airline gift cards in the mail as a prize for having been selected Member of the Year, yet I’ll feel its absence.  I suppose the lesson is that intangible things are in the end just as impermanent as tangible ones.

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8 Comments

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  1. VisitSiena / Nov 20 2013 3:41 pm

    what a nice place 🙂 🙂 !!

  2. Jeannine Cantin / Jan 17 2014 2:45 am

    I’ve been with the for quite a while also….Even got a “Hall of Fame” award in 2008 as Cantin2…….well…..I had accrued points ammounting to $325 dollars in Amazon gift certificates…They recently notified us that they were selling out to Travelocity and that we must collect our “rewards”…..about 25 cents per write up……but we were doing it for love of travel and reporting.
    I was sent only $100…I am still due $226….have written them a number of times with no reply.
    Is anyone else in this same situation???

    • Jeannine Cantin / Apr 11 2014 12:19 pm

      I finally got all that was due me – Thank you Travelocity and Igougo

    • P. Gordon / May 23 2014 12:06 am

      I understand that some people were notified. I was not. I only learned of the sellout to Travelocity quite by accident yesterday and was stunned that I never at any time received notification or warning. I had many journals (painstakingly and lovingly composed) at that site. I am most disappointed that they may well be dumped and lost forever. I kept some on my hard drive but not all. It’s a tough lesson learned but they were NOT forthright in contact all their members!

      • Jeannine Cantin / May 23 2014 2:00 am

        I was never notified either……I guess they figure they notify you by posting something on IGOUGO….I happened to want to redeem some credits and found out accidentally on the website when I went there to redeem my points…..And it took me a while to get all that I was entitled to (like .30 cents per write-up…..I was also a 2008 Hall o Fame Member…I really enjoyed writing about my travels – now I do a littl for Trip Advisor – but it certainly isn’t the same…
        I finally did get all that was due to me from Travelocity and sometimes I see I write up here and there but nothing like IGOUGO…. but it probably did not appeal to Americans as much as it did to Europeans….who knows….Sorry that you had to hear about it in that way….and I hope that you did not have much for points laying around…..
        Keep me in the loop….
        Jeannine
        jcantin811@gmail.com

  3. Steven Sullivan / Apr 11 2014 3:45 am

    Wow, this is kind of a blast from the past. This evening, while flying home from a conference on the West Coast, I thought about IgoUgo and that I should spend a little time writing up the three week trip my partner and I took to Tanzania and Mauritius last November. After getting home, I went to IgoUgo to find that the site was blank, did a quick search online, and stumbled across a few pages referencing their closing – an announcement I apparently missed while we were traveling in Tanzania.

    My relationship with IgoUgo was very on-again, off-again over the nearly 10 years I was involved with the site. I would have periods of playing catch-up and writing lots of reviews, then I’d drop off for a while; sometimes a few years would pass between me uploading anything. But, I’d always return, get caught up on reviews and photos, earn a bunch of points, and redeem them. A chunk of a camera lens I bought last year for the Tanzania trip was paid for using Go Points. For me it was always a unique site that wasn’t just about reviews. Sure, people created reviews of their experiences, but there was a passion there that sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor have never had. IgoUgo’s original focus on writing journals about travel took reviews a step further, and combined them with a community of passionate, experienced travelers. Sadly, after the site was sold, it lost a lot of that sense of community. In 2005 I traveled to IgoUgo gatherings in both New York and London, and really enjoyed meeting many of the contributors and staff in person. You and I even conversed by email some back in those days, as we had both joined around the same time. Since the change in ownership, and the site’s shifting focus toward being more of a Trip Advisor competitor, it just wasn’t the same.

    I’m saddened to see the site gone now. You’re right; it had something that many of today’s travel blogs don’t. Anyway, I’m thrilled to have come across your blog in my search to find out what happened to a site I once loved, and am sad to see gone. These days I’m posting most of my travel content to my personal site, which is mostly photography focused, although, I’m considering adding more blog-like content to it as well.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Apr 11 2014 4:21 am

      Hey Steven, so lovely to hear from you. I remember you as one of the first people to welcome me to IgoUgo way back when. I look forward to checking out your site! 🙂

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