If I used the words “honest” and “business” in the same sentence, would you burst into uncontrolled laughter? Uncontrolled, incredulous, laugh-until-you-cry kind of laughter? “Yes, you can find an honest business. Here’s how.”
TripAdvisor is a regrettable by-product of the information revolution whose user-generated ratings too often hurt travelers and travel companies more than they help.
As I’ve noted in the past, the company cynically monetizes the labor of its unpaid contributors while making virtually no effort to verify its reviews.
TripAdvisor doesn’t promise its readers much, but the least it can do is to live up to the few guarantees it makes.
Even so, when I heard from Ellen Garland, who charged the company with allowing a hotel in Anguilla to brazenly game its ratings, I didn’t want to go there.
“Is TripAdvisor still letting hotels rig their reviews?”
I wanted to start by saying that, because the bottom line is, I’m really grateful to you for making this site what it is today.
“A few very important comments about your comments”
Tom and Terri Dorow didn’t like their recent vacation rental in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Their online review is clear about that. It’s a laundry list of complaints about equipment, appliances and even the appearance of a house they felt didn’t meet the expectations of a $3,500 price tag for five nights.
“New confidentiality clauses can influence vacation rental reviews”
When it comes to online hotel reviews, travelers don’t believe everything they read.
Far from it.
Asked what they thought of property reviews posted by guests online, more than 8 in 10 described them as only “somewhat reliable.” While many of the write-ups are legit, they added, they believe hotels sometimes manipulate the system by posting bogus reviews. Equal numbers of travelers (7 percent) said they thought online hotel reviews were either “very reliable” or “not reliable at all.”
No “be all, end-all”
“I use sites like TripAdvisor to get a temperature or general feel for a property,” says Nathan Kam, a communication consultant who works in the tourism industry. “But I don’t consider it a ‘be all, end all’ source for information. I take what I find there and cross-check it with my other social networks — friends on Facebook, and maybe check in with my followers on Twitter to see what they have to say — and always check with a travel professional or two who might have an opinion. It seems like more work, but it’s worth the time to ensure you don’t end up with something surprising upon check-in.”
Kam’s comments reflect a majority of the reader feedback to this poll of more than 700 readers of this site and Consumer Traveler, which was conducted last week in cooperation with the Washington-based Consumer Travel Alliance.
“Most travelers are skeptical of user-generated hotel reviews”
When it comes to online hotel reviews, do you believe everything you read?
I’m asking for two reasons. TripAdvisor, which dominates hotel reviews, just announced it has started offering a way to rate airlines. (That ought to be interesting.)
Also, I’m working with a TV news program that is investigating hotel reviews. If you work for a hotel, or have ever worked for a hotel, and have engaged in “reputation management” designed to influence the reviews your property receives, please contact me directly by Monday afternoon. I’ll pass your name along to the appropriate people.
Now, to this week’s question. I’d like your comments on how these hotel reviews affect your travel purchasing decision. Do you take them seriously, or pay them no heed? Has the way you’ve used these hotel reviews changed in the last five years, and if so, how?
“Weekend survey: Do you believe online hotel reviews?”