KERALA BLOG EXPRESS BOYCOTTED AND EXPOSED BY TOP INTERNATIONAL AND INDIAN TRAVEL BLOGGERS. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY?

KERALA BLOG EXPRESS BOYCOTTED AND EXPOSED BY TOP INTERNATIONAL AND INDIAN TRAVEL BLOGGERS. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY?

Top International and Indian travel bloggers are exposing and boycotting Kerala Blog Express for a reason. The voting circus is just one of the few things which are wrong with Kerala Blog Express. For the uninitiated, Kerala Blog Express is an annual sham…errr……joke…errr….competition which has travel enthusiasts from across the world vie to be in the top spot qualifying on not merit but on their skill in buying and ‘begging’ for votes. The winners are gifted with a long trip on a bus which includes their visit to popular places in Kerala, stay in luxury hotels and resorts and of course lots of beer.

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A Kathakali performer at the Kerala Kathakali Center, Fort Kochi. Kerala, Incredible India!

I participated in only 1 season of Kerala Blog Express (don’t remember which). When I realized that it is a farce, I stopped caring about it anymore. But every year, it raises its ugly head and I thought it was time I spoke up. This blog was supposed to be just my view on Kerala Blog Express. But when I discussed it online, I saw immense support for my views from the close knit travel blogging community. So I decided to include the opinions of the blogging fraternity in this post.

WHY I BOYCOTT KERALA BLOG EXPRESS. HERE’S EXPOSING KBE:

Top travel bloggers from India and many other countries have shared their opinion below (in alphabetical order) I am starting with my opinion which is a bit longer than others’.

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The performer enacting nava rasa also seems displeased with the voting game of Kerala Blog Express. Inside Kerala kathakali Center, Fort Kochi. Kerala, Incredible India!

HOW TO WIN KERALA BLOG EXPRESS? BUY VOTES. SIMPLE, EH!

It’s silly that the gullible participants even beg for votes. It is really easy to win Kerala Blog Express. You just have to buy the votes. My tip: Wait for the last day. And buy when the contest is just about to close. VOILA YOU ARE A WINNER!

In one of the season, my friend ABC was participating despite me warning him against it. He was leading when all of a sudden, genius folks behind Kerala Blog Express changed the last date to few more weeks. Who doesn’t like some extra free publicity,eh? So ABC tried again to win the contest by fair means, which is requesting friends and family to vote for him. Another gentleman called XYZ won it at the last minute by buying votes in bulk. Any fool can tell that even if all your friends and family start voting (again,lol) at the same time, it is impossible to reach that number.  So XYZ finally did win the contest and openly boasted about buying vote in a drunken state in a bloggers event few weeks later. Sadly XYZ had some other commitments and had to cancel his participation, so that’s how my friend ABC was made a winner. We had taken screen shots too which I don’t want to find after a year and post here. I don’t want to make that effort. Well, actually you don’t even need to take screen shots anyways. It’s really easy to find out. Just go to their website (Pls google it) and see the drama unfold yourself. This is also the reason why 3 of the Top Bloggers listed below stopped asking for votes and have no intention of winning the contest once they realized the farce that it is.

EDITED: On Popular demand, I am sharing the screen shots from this year, which is 2018. These screen shots were taken on 10th January, 2018. As you can see a single contestant can manage to get 500 votes in mere 4 hours. Pls check the timing in screen shot and the number of votes against each individual. Yes, it happens that openly! Even if all your friends and family start voting (again, lol), even then it is not possible to get so many votes just when the contest is about to get over. AND THIS IS WHAT MY PROBLEM IS WITH KERALA BLOG EXPRESS!

KBE 1KBE 2KBE 3KBE 4kbe 5

XYZ also participated with me in another contest. I stood at 2nd position with a score of say 450 by using fair means. One of my friends was at 3rd position with a score of say 350 by using fair means. XYZ won the contest (again, sigh!) with say 1500 points. The huge difference exposes what means were used to win the contest. Since that day, I stopped participating in stupid voting based contests. I realized, honesty is not appreciated and dishonesty is celebrated in this world! I don’t want to waste my precious time competing with deceitful people whose moral compass is as good as that of a hungry mouse.

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I shot this in the backwaters of Alleppey during the Golden Chariot trip. Kerala, Incredible India!

WHY AM I SPEAKING ABOUT KERALA BLOG EXPRESS? SOUR GRAPES?

You would argue that I can just ignore it. Why did I even spend an entire day writing this blog? I ignore KBE every year. But when close friends start inboxing me, requesting me to vote for them, I have to explain to them all over again why I am against Kerala Blog Express. I just wanted to say it here. So henceforth I will just give the link of this blog every time someone asks me to vote. I am just saving time for myself.

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Somewhere near Munnar. Kerala, Incredible India!

As far as sour grapes are concerned, sorry to disappoint you, I have zilch interest in vying for a contest which wants free publicity via the voting games and not based on my merit. Kerala is in India, for God’s sake. Being an Indian, I can visit the same places at my own pace with my own money. It’s easy and affordable destination for me. KBE is definitely not a journey of a lifetime for me! I love what Kerala has to offer and I have already been many times to the state. I have been to Fort Kochi, Munnar, Alleppey, Kovalam several times and loved it. But to visit Kerala again, I don’t want to stoop down to the level which KBE encourages me to. And be fooled by those who won by buying votes anyways.  And since KBE has the criteria of selecting only 1 blogger from one country, that cruelly narrows down the chance to win it. So here’s one more reason why you should not waste your time and talent on Kerala Blog Express.

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Make up session of Kathakali performers at Kerala Kathakali Center. Kerala, Incredible India!

IS THERE A BETTER WAY KERALA BLOG EXPRESS CAN BE DONE?

Yes, of course! Why can’t they have a proper FAM/Familiarisation/Media/Press trip where participants are chosen on the merits of their credible writing, photography, film-making and storytelling and not on the basis of how many beer bottles they can shove down their throat in a day and how sexy they can look in the pool?  That’s what seems to be the focus of KBE though! The people behind KBE should handpick talented travel bloggers and influencers after a through screening of their profile and oeuvre. That’s how big brands and PR companies I work with do it. Voting game should be done away with. Not only is it embarrassing to beg for votes but also heart breaking to lose out to unworthy participants who do not deserve and win on the buying power alone.

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Sun set at Fort Kochi. Chinese fishing nets. Kerala, Incredible India!

WHY ARE TOP TRAVEL BLOGGERS BOYCOTTING KERALA BLOG EXPRESS?

The voting game is earning Kerala and India more flak than free publicity. Most top Indian and International Bloggers worth their salt stay away from Kerala Blog Express for the reasons mentioned in this blog. In fact KBE is the butt of all jokes in Indian and international travel blogging community. The top bloggers look down upon it. If you look closely at the participants and winners selected in KBE, most of them have an unimpressive body of work. Some of them are good but a large number is not worthy of winning the contest. Unfair voting procedure gives advantage to the inept and incompetent participants who have no talent but perhaps enough money to buy votes. I have hardly seen any impressive blogs coming out of Kerala Blog Express despite the fact that I am connected online to most of the top names in Travel Blogging community. But then, the top ones don’t participate in KBE! So doesn’t it make sense to formally invite the right candidates which will result in better promotional content for Kerala?  Maybe they need to learn something from Utar Pradesh Tourism, Goa Tourism and Madhya Pradesh Tourism whose selection of good bloggers for official Media trips have given them quality leverage and publicity. I was part of Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart done by Madhya Pradesh government. I loved the way they handpicked quality bloggers which had a positive impact on the tourism of one of the largest states of India. What stops Kerala from replicating that model?

Till this text, the views expressed are mine. I am sharing below what top Indian and international travelers have to say about Kerala Blog Express. Below are independent thoughts submitted to me through private messages and mails.

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Spices of Mattancherry. Fort Kochi. Kerala, Incredible India!

HERE IS WHY TOP INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL BLOGGERS ARE BOYCOTTING KERALA BLOG EXPRESS:

In alphabetical order

Kemkem Casinelli

Blogs at:  Next Bite Of Life

While the Kerala tourism board might have had good intentions with the Kerala Blog Express, it has become something more akin to a popularity contest. There is no deep thought put into the selection of bloggers it seems. It has become a matter of who can get the most votes. This, instead of being a “unique online campaign” as quoted on their website just feels stale. A shake-up in selection is needed. It should be all inclusive. Bloggers with big numbers as well as small (they will more than likely write better stories). From press trips l’ve attended, a lot of big bloggers just “show up”. Smaller bloggers are “hungrier” and do the work.

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Sun set at the Kovalam Beach. Kerala, Incredible India!

Mariellen Ward:

Blogs at:  Breathe Dream Go

I’ve been travel blogging in India since 2005, during my first trip. I fell equally in love with India and travel blogging and have published hundreds of blog posts, thousands of social media posts and probably million of words. For years I’ve been enthusiastically promoting travel to India on many different online platforms. And for years I waited for the Indian travel and tourism industry to become innovative, join the digital revolution, and start supporting me and other early adopter bloggers. So I was very excited when Kerala Blog Express was first announced and I was one of the very first people to register. It didn’t take me long to realize that registrants were gaming the public voting and I became dismayed. I realized this was a poor way to attract professionals and in fact there was an outcry against voting contests for press trips in the international travel blogging community. After several years of running the KBE the exact same way, I’m sure the organizers must be satisfied with the results. But I’ve always felt they could do so much more if they did away with the public voting component.

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Fishermen at Fort Kochi. Kerala, Incredible India!

Natalia Shipkova

Blogs at:  My Trip hack

Every blogger who has at least one year old blog knows the value of every organic follower, newsletter subscriber or a blog visitor. These followers are people, who despite their busy lives chose to allocate some time to read certain blog content.  With time it becomes a mutual cooperation: the bloggers provide beneficial information and in exchange they get readers. Both parties receive something.

Now, in the liking social media competitions, there are three parties: a blogger, a brand and an audience. How the cooperation works here:

A brand receives visibility due to new audience and promotion by the participants of the competition.

A blogger receives a possibility to win or lose competition, though it’s a competition, thus some will be winners, some not. Those bloggers who are taking part in it, assume this outcome.

But what does an audience get? They find out about the opportunity in which they can’t participate unless they have a blog. Secondly, they also have a chance to give their vote to the blogger they follow who will also not necessarily get this opportunity in the end.  Out of all three parties, the audience is in the least favorable position. I don’t have anything pro or against Kerala Blog Express, but, in my opinion, the brand that targets to increase its audience should not undermine their trust.

This being said, this winter I’m finally going to Kerala by myself. It took me almost three years to visit it, but I have a peace of mind that I can explore this destination on my own terms.

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Classical dancer performing Bharatnatyam at Vivanta by Taj, Kovalam. Kerala, Incredible India!

Robert Schrader: 

Blogs at: Leave Your Daily Hell

Kerala has been on my bucket list forever, and I think participating in a press trip there would be mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, the ‘voting circus’ KBE have implemented turns off talented veteran bloggers like me, because it implies that momentary enthusiasm supersedes the years of experience we bring to the table. Frankly, a secondary destination in India should be asking me if I want to come, not the other way around.

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Vivanta by Taj, Kovalam. Kerala, Incredible India!

HERE IS WHY TOP INDIAN TRAVEL BLOGGERS ARE BOYCOTTING KERALA BLOG EXPRESS:

In alphabetical order

Amrita Sen and Agniswar

Blog at:  Tales of 2 Backpackers

We had started our travel blog because we loved travelling and I loved telling travel stories. Until very recently, we had never thought of the number game, followers etc etc. And yes, we too also fell into the rat race of numbers trying to gain more followers and likes. But suddenly realised that it is taking the love of travel blogging away – the very reason we started our blog. So we decided to take it slow now – the likes and recognition will come as we strive to work better and better. We took part in KBE this year, got disgusted with asking for votes, so have not promoted it anywhere. I guess someone took pity and gave us a single vote.

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Classical dancer performing Bharatnatyam at Vivanta by Taj, Kovalam. Kerala, Incredible India!

Divyakshi Gupta:

Blogs at: Quirky Wanderer

Why are not all the profiles approved at once? Why can’t there be one deadline date after which the profiles are shortlisted and open to the public? Why ONLY the vote system?  Why so much partiality towards Foreigners? If foreign bloggers is the focus why not explicitly say that the TG is NOT Indians so the Indian travel bloggers don’t bother participating”

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Make up session of Kathakali performers at Kerala Kathakali Center. Kerala, Incredible India!

Divya Prasad:

Blogs at: Obsessive Compulsive Traveller

I started blogging for the love of storytelling and travel. In 2007, it began as a hobby for me. Facebook and Twitter were not what it’s today. Nor was travel blogging that popular. I didn’t have marketing, PR and social media chalked out for me, yet I did receive some work I resonated with. I feel happy I worked for some and travelled a lot spending my own money. Around 2014 I registered for KBE but soon realized that it’s going nowhere as it is based purely on public votes and social media scoring. If one just starts a blog with everything planned and up the number game, the chances of getting through KBE is high. I realized I don’t fit in there even though I can understand that a brand needs the numbers for practical reasons. Besides, Kerala being my paternal native place, I have happily spent all of my childhood vacations there. So if I need to be there, I would rather earn it myself and spend my money to travel peacefully just as most of my other travels. Why run after something meaningless, when you are judged by your influence over the quality of work and skills you bring in. This is my perspective, please don’t take it personally or politically.

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Munnar. Kerala, Incredible India!

 

Manjulika Pramod:

Blogs at:  Pendown

KBE is a great concept of discovering God’s own country but the idea of voting ruins its charm. The organizers should come out with a better way of short-listing people. The voting system is flawed. I have experienced it personally in season 4 of Kerala Blog Express. Participants buy votes openly and it is easy to make out because the numbers increase overnight. I also believe that if they have to select only 1 or 2 Indian bloggers, why do they invite applications from all, it should be strictly for international bloggers. We would be happy not participating.

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Church as seen from the house-boats in backwaters of Alleppey. Kerala, Incredible India!

 

Parnashree Devi:

Blogs at:  My Travel Diary

First of all, being a Travel Blogger from India, I find the Kerala Blog Express is worthless because of its voting system. They are judging the credibility of a blogger on based on votes which can’t be a valid judging criteria. Second, the dynamics of the voting system is flawed. Anyone who has registered with Kerala Blog Express can buy votes and beat any deserving candidate and sadly it’s been happening year after year. Unfortunately, Indian Travel Bloggers are given least priority in the whole process which is highly discouraging. Instead of the flawed voting system, they should formally invite travel bloggers from across the world to experience and promote the state. Every sensible and talented travel blogger should avoid the Kerala Blog Express. Because it’s not worth your time, talent and energy.

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I found Munnar a bit over rated. I prefer Ooty and Coonoor. I shot this in Munnar though. Kerala, Incredible India!

Ragini Puri:

Blogs at:  From My Window Seat

There is a lot of ambiguity about several aspects of the KBE campaign, so much so that it is being called shady in many influencer groups. Transparency of the campaign is one issue that is being discussed a lot amongst the travel bloggers. There is no clarity on why some profiles are approved right away while some take more than a week to get approval. Plus voting system makes it more of a popularity contest rather than a campaign to get quality travel influencers on board. On top of it, even the voting is not monitored and is actually a huge farce. Votes are doubling up in a matter of hours. Also, I have never really noticed any blog posts coming out of KBE, other than the social media updates

Ruby Singh:

Blogs at:  Life and its Experiments

I made a profile too but I am not very high on the voting phenomenon. Hence just left it there. I can possibly ask to vote once but I cannot keep asking it on every platform. Because I see people doing that, they are making so much effort and that’s when it hit me that it is not my cup of tea. My only concern is that why is voting an integral part of everything. How do you account for the authenticity of the votes? I might have not done anything worthwhile all my life just paid few bucks and got thousands of votes to boost my profile. That’s my only concern.

Seemah Gurnani

Blogs at: Panda Reviewz

Kerala blog express definitely sounded very exciting to me when I discovered it this year and I felt it is an opportunity to explore Kerala & that it would help me gain exposure for my blog. But the voting process kept me away. Initially I had mixed opinions on it. However I thought maybe they want to track influence of a blogger/influencer..so with the benefit of doubt I went ahead and took part it. After actively promoting it everywhere on my social media which reaches upto a lakh followers and my friend circle, I managed to gain 259 votes. But then I saw few random entries jumping from 50 odd votes to 2000 + votes in a matter of few hours.. I was like..is this a joke? And I definitely knew they were buying votes because I personally know a few people who messaged me asking if I’m interested to buy them too? What a fair contest! And what a joke in the name of Blog Express! It should be more of a “the one who buys the most votes wins at the end” contest.

Shrinidhi Hande:

Blogs at:  E nidhi

I have expressed my thoughts in the below box:

E Nidhi quote

Kerala Blog Express voting should be done away with!

Soumya  Nambiar

Blogs at: Travel Books Food

It is interesting to see this debate every year. There is one side including both Indian and International bloggers who are against how Kerala tourism board conducts the whole selection/voting process. Indian bloggers are against them because there is clearly a preference for International bloggers and hardly 1-2 are selected every year. But this is not mentioned anywhere in the selection process that we are not their target group. I think the whole point of it not being a transparent selection process is what has got the entire travel blogging community at loggerheads. And then there are people who have been on the trip and loved it. Also, there are many who want to go on this trip. Which is why in spite of all the negative feedback surrounding it, it is still quite popular among the travel blogging community. Kerala tourism board may never get any of the top travel bloggers to participate but they get a lot of coverage every year. Which as someone mentioned is a really clever strategy. As someone who is originally from Kerala, I definitely do not agree with this strategy of the Kerala tourism board and that is why I will probably never apply ever again. (I did do that mistake last round but backed out when I realised the implications of the voting process) I believe that you will only get 80% of the costs reimbursed and the Kerala trip is so jam-packed with activities that you will have no free time to work on your other projects. If you are fine with all these said points, then it is a personal preference on whether to apply or not. But that being said, Kerala is a gorgeous place and there are many small businesses that will definitely benefit from your blogs.

Suruchi and Tashi:

Blogs at: All Gud Things

We were initially excited to know about the whole Kerala Blog Express thing but soon realised for good that what seems an exciting campaign is actually a damp squib. The whole concept and the so called bloggers literally “begging” for votes openly all over social media was such a put off and irritating. I really wonder how the quality of the content of the so called chosen ones will be decided just on the basis of votes compared to others. We too guess it is just a lucrative marketing opportunity these guys are riding upon with the participant bloggers as baits. IMHO it is not a good sign for the community and blogging fraternity on the whole.

Swati Jain:

Blogs at: Buoyant Feet

I stay away from the voting game be it for any brand so KBE never really interested me. I don’t understand why a blogger need to get shortlisted on the criteria of votes? What is the aim behind it and especially when you can buy votes to win. Apart from discrepancies, another thing which I always find strange in KBE is the lack of respect that they give to Indian bloggers. It is strange to see a state tourism board not valuing the potential of Indian bloggers. Rather the leverage is given to the international bloggers. Why ? To get more foreign tourist in? Do they know that foreigners read the maximum of Indian bloggers stories to visit a place than an international blogger? I feel a local’s perspective is always more credible. In case you are still adamant that international bloggers should get more leverage, then why not have two official media trips? One with only International Travel Bloggers and other one with only Indian travel bloggers!?

The view from my #SoulWindow is bogus!

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW- WHAT DO YOU THINK OF KERALA BLOG EXPRESS?

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I love Keralan food;especially avial and thoran. This sadya was offered to me during the boat ride in the backwaters of Alleppey. Kerala, Incredible India!

You would also love to read:

Why I hate the snobbery and lies of solo travelers?

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Why I love solo traveling- Part 2

Why 2017 was my best year of traveling?

Why I am tired of traveling too much?

The best of Offbeat Fort Kochi, Kerala

Sunset at Kovalam Beach

Top Things to do in Kabini backwaters and wildlife reserve

Top places to see in Poovar

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In the backwaters of Alleppey. Kerala, Incredible India!

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66 thoughts on “KERALA BLOG EXPRESS BOYCOTTED AND EXPOSED BY TOP INTERNATIONAL AND INDIAN TRAVEL BLOGGERS. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY?

  1. Even I got registered myself in KBE last year but after knowing about number’s game of voting I put the idea of my participation down right at the corner of my mind. Though it might be right for any businessman to invest in and purchase something for future return, where the core intentions are of making money. But for getting being discriminated in a lesser ratio than foreign bloggers in our own country, the whole concept is worthless and quite insulting.

    It is just like showing a carrot to donkey and ask him to run whole race without any result. As this is neither a business or no one will get monetary rewards in exchange of their services, anyone can spend their own money to explore any place in a better way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We were at the Padmanabhaswamy temple. It was around 2 PM and several devotees were waiting for the doors to open and their time slot to arrive. Among them was a huge group from rural Maharashtra. They were totally lost about what was happening. They couldn’t speak the language, obviously, and Hindi was also a struggle. They were “not the locals”! A couple of men from the group heard Chetan and I talk in Marathi, so they approached us and asked us to explain what was happening, we spoke to the guard and told them in Marathi how the queue system worked.
    We weren’t too keen on getting inside to temple to left in a few minutes. As we were leaving, a huge group of KBE entered the temple premises. They all saw the women (from the group from Maharashtra) sitting on the floor. They didn’t bother to notice their aghast and tired expressions, but their 9-yard saris, big red kumkum, nose rings, bangles were obviously too “exotic”. The hapless women were mobbed by the camera wielders, everyone just thrusting the cameras in their faces.
    The lack of sensitivity was shocking and shameful. Definitely not something we would associate with.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Must admit, I did not know of this competition, but reading your post, I realized that it was very important, especially for Indian bloggers. It is unfortunate what is happening there and you, together with the other bloggers are right to boycott it. As with many times of competitions of this kind, it is important that the people who have entered them have the chance to be judged objectively, so that they can grow. Entering such a competition is meant to development oneself, not to drag them into a race against principles. I applaud you for having the courage, not only to not participate anymore, but also for speaking up!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well even before you brought it to light , I got to know about it from a famous travel blogger who though very talented was in anguish because of the number games of Kerala Blog Express . The talent of a blogger is more important .

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. I am not surprised. Wonder why they have such a lame campaign? #KeralaBlogExpress is actually looked down upon in the international and Indian blogging fraternity. It’s time they take stock of situation.

      Like

  5. This is such a thoughtful and very detailed post. I love the fact that you spoke up against this uninspired voting system that will definitely get you some flack. I get inundated with requests to vote..someone even said they had voted for me in the past.. haha. I have never put my name in the ring and l assume it was a form letter to everyone. I have been to India and liked my experience. I would love to discover other parts, but definitely not like this. They need to do a better job attracting good and worthy talent.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Am clapping Abhinav. Kudos to you for standing up and exposing such a sham ! Am shocked beyond words but will pass on this link to whosoever that pings me for a vote on KBE. Some newbies who participate are so excited and hopeful… how sad !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. First off, kudos to you for talking about it and voicing your opinion. It is such a shame that something that was intended to promote tourism end up becoming a popularity contest. It’s one thing to get votes for the blogging job but it is a different thing when it is just all about the votes, and less about the blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We registered for Kerela Express but as soon as we saw the voting requirements we deceded nott go ahead or even share on our social media. I really think they need to look at different requirements and find a way to get a good variety of bloggers to attend.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t heard of KBE before, so thank you for the background so I understood more about it. I think it’s really sad that the organizers have turned what could have been a beneficial competition into an attention-grabbing farce. It really seems like it could have the potential to be an amazing experience. I think you’re doing an amazing job bringing light to this situation and exposing others around the world about it, which is key to hopefully enacting some change in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kerala is one of the natural wonders of India and I believe it can attract a lot of organic visitors if the tourism programs such as KBE do a target audience marketing. Unfortunately, very few travel programs do public follow-ups. In my opinion, the key factor of such program is not the number of blogs/tweets/etc. posted, but how many people actually visited Kerala because of this?

    Talking further about the analytical part, I like how Shrinidhi broke down specific actionable points how the situation can be improved.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I heard about the KBE just recently by a blogging facebook group and it draw immediately my attetion. At first I was happy that everybody could apply even bloggers with low viewers and that voting was a good way. But then I knew I was never going to win so I didnt apply but now reading your post I never though that one can actually buy votes!! If thats the case its ofcourse not fair! But the whole idea of KBE is great, the just have to find a way to select their influencer BOTH big and small bloggers!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Being a new blogger, I’ve not heard much about KBE but I can see your frustrations! Popularity contests are incredibly frustrating, especially when many are cheating. I hope that in the future they move towards a more merit-based system.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, I never even knew that such thing also exists. Sounds very very WRONG.If this happens everytime, then I am pretty much sure humanity is no more left. It should be ban on such things like IBA and KBE

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ditto,
    I am not a full time blogger but love exploring new places which lead me to launch a dedicated travel website which drive our 40K visitors a month. Few days back when I learned about KBE, I thought to register myself. When I seen the voting system and the process! I did not even shared my profile once and ignored it.

    Being a part of online marketing industry since last 12 years, I am well aware about all these tricks but I simply avoided.

    Hope they will learn some lesson from it and will make it more reliable and transparent process.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I never took part in such type of contests which has public voting system ran by any institution. How can a public or common man know that how good we are and they decide it and give vote to us. It is unfair. There should be a judging panel who should decide on their marks based system. Just making it a public voting system, these brands want to become more popular among large mass. Kerala is such a beautiful country but they should not do such cheap tactics. Also if they want to select foreign nationals then, they should do 2 contest in which one is our Indians and one is for foreign nationals and form a mixed team of Indians and foreigners. Buying votes for a free tour … are you serious… is this an election for PM or CM ??

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am a newbie in the blogging community and not even a full time blogger, so I didn’t knew about this at all until I read your post. This is such an awful act. Thank you for pen this down. So-well articulated!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I had participated in a voting-based contest only once and that was my last time too. I stay away from such competitions. It is certainly disheartening to know the gross reality behind such competitions. I totally agree with each and every point you have mentioned. Even though I am relatively new in the domain, I still feel voicing against such campaigns is totally the need of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Very interesting post–I’ve heard a lot of good and bad things about KBE, and it’s great to get an Indian’s take on it. I have stayed far away myself, as the begging for votes thing simply doesn’t appeal to me on any level. Love that you’ve included so many other sources and comments. Hopefully they can put together a proper FAM trip one day, as I’d love to be on it!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thank you so very much! I´ve just started blogging (after a 10 year break ;)) and I recently found KBE and since I would love to visit India again I applied for the contest, noticing I might have a chance since there were not so many candidates from Finland (if they only select one from each country?). I´ve later had my doubts about the whole thing, and I guess thats why I found your blog. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I have never taken part in KBE as I am totally against this voting system. Begging for votes is simply not for me. However I would beg to differ with your opinion with the so called ”fair selection of travel bloggers by other Tourism Boards” There are so many good travel bloggers out there but only the same group of people are chosen again and again by different tourism boards. I find this entire concept of FAM solely based on connections rather than merit.

    Like

  21. Firstly, I love your pics! And well done you for all that you’ve achieved with your blog. I’d love to check out Padmanabhaswamy temple. I’ve added it to my list of places to watch in 2018. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I totally agree with you. I heard about the Kerala Blog Express during it’s second year. And when I had a look at the participants, there was not a single person that I “knew,” if you know what I mean. A few years ago, I was sent a similar event for Finland. I completely ignored it! I mean, really? I don’t think so.

    I don’t belong to any “association” but when I approach Tourism Boards myself, and show them the work that I’ve done, they are always pleased to partner with me on a customised / press trip of my choice. I attended a private event for Prince William & Kate Middleton. I don’t need validation from anyone else!

    I’m terribly against “vote for me” events. It’s simply spam, and also demeaning for bloggers who have to beg complete strangers for “likes.”

    Besides, you’re right. if you live in India why in the world would you take part in a competition to travel around your own country?

    Well done for bringing it to book.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I am new in blogging world,in the hope of working with tourism board I applied but I left my hope as voting system sucks..It’s awful .One should judge by his blog and his work not by so called votes..In tech era Everything possible but thank you for taking this seriously and boycotting it

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I am def not a fan of FAM or media trips that are won from a competition. The tourism boards shouldn’t be picking their influencers from a competition, but for the writing style of each blogger, and the brand they represent. I agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Woah.. Buying votes to build win a trip seems so unfair. Instead putting that money to conduct a trip oneself would be satisfactory. ‘Honesty is not appreciated and dishonesty is celebrated in this world!’ – so very well put. I have felt it so many times in so many different things. It’s sad that KBE is following same voting system since so many years. I just want to see their faces when they read this blog 😛 Congratulations for this blog, I know it requires great courage to expose something as big as this. It’s nice that you have asked for so many blogger’s view. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. This is quite an interesting read and to be completely honest, I never thought about KBE this way; I just learned about it this year and though I never bought any votes at all, I placed #13 worldwide and #1 in Canada. All my travel accounts are not scandalous, all photography is my own, I write on my blog regularly, etc., etc. However, I definitely do see your point, as many of the other “top votes” fit that description to a T, and you can tell that many have bought votes to place in the top, which is really unfortunate for bloggers who work really hard at what they do and are actually 100% deserving of the winnings. In fact, that would be the best way to gain attention as an incredible travel destination: quality bloggers/photographers/videographers coming to your location to advertise.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I honestly did not know about all of this. I really dislike that everything is made into a competition. I wish that people could just relax and do their own thing. I definitely understand how you feel people are ranked. It’s definitely a struggle to be noticed. Thank you for sharing awareness on this subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This is so disheartening, when i first heard of this i thought the process was very transparent. well, if they dont want this to die they should better review the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Have got to agree with you on most of the points you made here. Being a blogger, I never thought of participating. Because there is neither time, nor enthusiasm in going the rounds asking for votes. Yes, it’s better if they collect holistic information about bloggers, contact them and see whom they want to hand pick

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What i absolutely donot like is that a lot of small time bloggers gain hundreds of thousands of votes in the last 1 or 2 days. I thought they have hacked the server but now you are telling that they buy votes. I literally saw that they got 1 vote every 2 seconds ! I think they have hacked the server or exploiting some loopholes in the code.Usually in the last years kerala tourism have kicked out cheaters and this is why many who got 1000 or 2000 votes didnot win. This was pointed out by fellow bloggers. There is a blog post from a kenyan blogger who says she won even though she had only 40 votes. There are many who win even though they get less than 100 votes.
    I think the voting component is there to market the website more. KBE is a popularity contest. Lets face it. Kerala tourism is constantly winning the tourism awards nationally and internationally over other tourism departments. There are no free lunches. I have been to 2 of these resorts and they are top class . It costs above 25000 a night in many of these resorts. It is admirable that these resorts participate in such a contest every year.
    Also KBE is known across the blogging community and it can really do wonders to a small time blogger.
    I know one woman who had only around 1000 subscribers when she won KBE. After that her subscriber count has risen to 14,000 now. Even normal people have started using this hashtag to promote their pages

    Like

  31. This has been the same story in so many places and events in the country. Of course there are honourable exceptions, but the trend seems to encourage mediocrity and populism over quality, engagement, and honesty. Unfortunately, this is the scenario across so many walks of life in the country. Hope the authorities see some sense and do an analysis of their ROI and streamline their processes.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I have spoken to the organisers..
    They have assured that they are aware of this and they disqualify people who buy votes every year. They have also added this in the FAQ section in two places.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. It’s sad to see that blogging has become a popularity contest. I started my travel blog because I wanted to share my experiences and tips with other travellers. I’ve never heard of KBE, but it’s shocking to see what’s happening. Thanks for stepping up to share about this incident!

    Like

  34. This was much much needed. Every year the same vote circus continues and bloggers start asking for votes even without researching and understanding the ploy. It is a marketing gimmick. Kerala is beautiful. The state tourism board must ask the PR agency to check how certain bloggers are getting votes by the minute. If only the campaign criteria was well designed. Sigh!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Pingback: Explore Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary—A Fun-Filled Holiday Activity in Kerala with Kids. | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

  36. This blog article explains all the problems with the contest this year. You have to translate . I hope the ones who worked hard for votes will also be considered. There are many people who win but donot blog enough. They also win without even posting about the contest on their social media accounts. how did they get the votes. Did they go to an internet center and ask everyone to vote ? Did they share the link with everyone in their company ?
    The blog lists many problems.
    https://oneday-onedream.com/kerala-blog-express/

    Liked by 1 person

  37. The great indian blog train is a contest which started this year. It is surprising to see that most of the winners of the indiablogtrain of this year were previous winners of the kerala blog express. It is surprising. Do not know if there was such a criteria or maybe the organisers were the keralablog people.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I participated in one of the KBE seasons and would like to share my thoughts and experience here. I wholly agree that the voting system is flawed and was somewhat surprised I was selected with my lower votes. However, along the trip, a few of us slowly discovered that many of the other “influencers” have bought their social media followers right before the application dates and were selected based on that merit.

    The whole trip felt like we were there to entertain the press with some of the first-time fam-trip bloggers ever so grateful for everything including paying 30% of the ticket costs out of their own pocket and showering praises whenever they were asked about the trip. The ones that tried to speak the truth were shunned.No itinerary was given in advance and we were only made to know our next day’s plans the night before. Wherever we went, a photo was mandatory. The organizers did not take into consideration the nature of our blogs and a lot of us were left with no relevant content to create.

    We were constantly whisked off to hotels and homestays and made to feel that we had to write about these accomodations even though we only had lunch there on a daily basis. A lot of time was spent on the bus, in musuems, jewish synagoges, small palaces, hotels and even sitting on the metro. We never got to experience the typical Kerala activities of Ayurveda treatments, traditional sari making/tying, cooking classes, bird watching on the backwaters etc.

    Alcoholic beverages were out of our own pocket and we were made to tip our houseboat crew and bus drivers from our own pocket with a set amount they’ve decided on. Our reimbursement was paid in rupees for our flight tickets.on the second day of arrival which meant we had to carry large amounts of cash for the next two weeks with no means of changing it to foreign currency until the end of the trip.¨

    We did not all stay in luxury hotels throughout the trip as advertised. We were constantly split into different groups and it was luck of the draw on how the organizers decide who stays where. Some were in better hotels and some were in rather mediocre ones throughout the two weeks. The organizers have left it up to the very last minute to plan the stays based on hotels offering free accomodation in exchange for pictures of us and possibly the promise from the organizers that we will be featuring the hotels in our blogs. For the overnight train, we were split up again in different berths. We were put in the 3rd class sleeper train, sharing with other people.

    Overall, I left feeling like a lot of time had been wasted and not truly being able to experience Kerala as how it had been advertised on the KBE website. Nothing was tailor-made to our requirements for our blog niche and it’s just been a photo-opportunity/selfie trip for those who love to be in front of the camera and see themselves on the pages of the Indian papers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • umm either you are lying or you are a participant of this years kbe.. I thought you were telling the truth until i read the metro part. The kochi metro only opened last year. So this was the first time the kerala blog express went on the kochi metro..the itinerary was given in advance however.so cannot confirm your version. if you are be a participant of this year. you can complain to the organisers like i did against people who gain votes through unfair means

      Like

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