We have tried long and hard to balance commercial and users interests on the site, but itâ€™s not easy. Companies generally can't see the value and individuals are often skeptical of their intentions. Both have interests that I believe could be well served on the site but I think a forum is not going to be the place as users are often to defensive about loosing their community (forum) to commercial interests. We do however have a number of programs on the site for say outdoor suppliers etc., like passing on discounts to members, gear guides, editorial, competitions and just plain old advertising. Simple participation in any of these covers the running costs of the forum; seen as a commercial free service to the user/groups at no cost to them.
But to date (four years) we have convinced only one company to participate â€˜Kea Campersâ€™. I think they feel we are disrupting their traditional advertising and distribution channels. Maybe their right so we slowly modify our business model with the hope of one day attracting commercial participation in the services we have set-up for them which will in turn will develop the services we want to offer consumers. I think itâ€™s a bit of a chicken and egg situation but the upside is users are getting more active and in time that in itself will attract commercial interests. Hopefully they will come to the site first to see how they can participate as apposed to risking a backlash in the forum (which is likely) I mean whatâ€™s a forum without a lot of different and often vocal opinions.
I really just wish companies like Li-Lo would ask (contact link on camping site), â€œhow do we gain some exposure through product giveawaysâ€. Believe me I could work with that; a newsletter out to nearly 9,000 Australian campersâ€¦ this is what I tried to say in my email but I guess it came across as something else. Anyway this is hopefully now on public record for the next company thinking of this type of offer. Sorry for the long winded post but this point of commercial vrs user interests is a hard one for us, something we need to get right one day if this site is ever going to be of any real use to anyone.
The admin guy.