Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Trusting Tripadvisor

I have a love hate relationship with Tripadvisor.
I love the idea (a place where real people give their honest opinion of their accommodation provider) – I hate the result (Fake reviews and hotels sabotaging others credibility).

Saying that, I have never booked a hotel and not consulted Tripadvisor, before I send off my credit card details I always take time to scroll through the comments, skimming the positive ones and closely reading the complaints.
But all of what I read is taken with a large shaking of sea salt. Too many negative comments and I swiftly dismiss the hotel, but too many positive ones and I begin to get suspicious.

The ASA Advertising Standards Authority started to investigate the website in September for fake reviews and the investigation has led the website to change their global slogan from “Reviews you can Trust” to “Reviews from our Community.”
There are thousands of fake reviews on the site, whether or not they can be easily spotted by those administrating the site is not for me to know. But there are there and you need to be weary of them.
Hotels need good reviews, their business depends on them. But in my opinion they need bad reviews too – just so we know they are real.
There are thousands of tourists (note: tourists not travellers) who exaggerate everything, who expect five star standards in a minus two hostel, who don't enjoy their holiday so blame the hotel, who didn't like the food, the texture of the bed linen, the view from their window or the foreign language on the TV ... bad reviews like these help me choose my hotel.
Room with a view in Greece
Tripadvisor has over 45 million reviews with 23 new opinions every minute (I, myself am a senior contributor) and although there are some great tips for travllers hidden among the reviews, obviously with this level of traffic you will find many which are untrue.
Travel Guide giant Fodor are collaborating with Tripadvisor, from 2012 their guidebooks will include hotel reviews alongside professional accommodation recommendations – so their value is still seen as worthy.

As a result of complaints Tripadvisor have set up new customer phone liens to help eliminate “untrue” reviews – but who are they to trust – the hotel owners?
Www.ihatetripadvisor.co.uk is a website set up by accommodation providers who are boycotting the site. Of course I understand that any bad review can damage their business but the site was not set up to just publish “good” reviews – that defeats the purpose.
Are you looking for a plush hotel or a traditional cottage?
Melbravo Resort Fiji (c) fifiheavey

Here are my tips for using Tripadvisor:
  • Decide what you want the hotel to excel in. If you want to party, night time noise won't be a problem, if you want to relax a lack of entertainment will suit you fine, if you have no kids you don't need a clean kiddies pool etc.
  • Skim the positive reviews, yes friendly, clean, helpful, blah blah - if there are no negative reviews in the top 20, book with extreme caution.
  • What was the negative comment about? (my pillow was soft ... the lighting was dim) Do you care? Would that thing bother you?
  • Where is the reviewer from? Have you read any previous reviews from this person?
  • The main words to seek out are: food poisoning, bed bugs, double booking, no locks on door, money/ jewellery stolen, prisoner of war camp – if you see these it would be wise to reconsider your option!


  1. A while back I would have been delighted with consumer review sites, lately I am have major issues with TripAdvisor to the point that I have been totally turned of the site and will never use it again.
    I do not know if you have seen the documentary following the people who call themselves "professional reviewers" and go around restaurants or guest houses looking for problems just to post a negative reviews and gain a following, horrific and proof that some review sites are a joke and to be avoided.

  2. Come and enjoy Barcelona in the comfort of our classically stylish bed and breakfast.Barcelona B&B is the accommodation that you are looking for your stay in Barcelona.

  3. @Stephen thanks for your comment - I have seen the documentary and it is terrible that people are actually employed to write negative reviews.

    @Robert - em I don't think you read the post ... properly ...