I’ve read much and I’ve heard much about the validity of the reviews on Trip Advisor. There are some who think the good ratings are paid reviews and there are some who think the bad reviews are just disgruntled customers. I think Trip Advisor is an excellent travel planning tool. It’s just one of many tools that I use when I’m planning a trip to a destination in which I’m unfamiliar.
So, how do I use Trip Advisor?
The first thing I use it for is to see the hotels in the city I’m researching that are within my price range and that are within the ratings range that I need. At this point, I’m not concerned about the best price. I’m researching my options. For example, I will do a search on hotels in Amsterdam that have ratings of 4 – 5 stars as the hotel rating category, not in the customer rating category. From there I narrow it down by location, and its proximity to the sites I’m there to see. If you use trip advisor for this purpose alone, it’s a time saver. In my opinion, unless you’re going for 6 star and above luxury, Trip Advisor is the best travel aggregator for this purpose.
At this point I have a handful of candidates. So I start to read the reviews. I don’t read the 5 star reviews. I read the 2 – 4 star customer ratings. I read these ratings and I listen to what the reviewer is really saying. Some of these reviews are people giving their opinion versus actually reviewing the hotel. What’s the difference? The difference is what they complain about. For example, if someone rates a hotel a 3 because it isn’t close to the beach. That is not really rating the hotel. If they had done their research, they would have known that beforehand. That differs from giving a low rating because the carpet smells of mold, and their housekeeping practices are poor. I’ve seen reviewers give poor ratings because they felt the hotel should have offered more onsite activities. Since I’m not looking for the hotel to entertain me, this wouldn’t be a deal breaker. On the other hand, if I read the same complaint about a hotel by various reviewers, and then the same thing on other sites, then that hotel is immediately dropped from the running.
After I’ve read the reviews, and I have narrowed it down to just a few hotels, I will then cross-reference reviews and recommendations with other sites.
Once this process is completed I visit the actual website of the hotel(s) I’m interested in and from there I make a decision. It’s at this point that price comes into play. How someone may decide to play this is individual. For me, I love fabulous hotels. When I’ve been hanging out all day pounding the pavement, standing in tourist attraction lines, etc. I like to come back to a spacious room, with a quiet pleasant ambiance, and a nice, hopefully deep tub. 🙂
Trip Advisor can be an excellent resource for travel information. However, in the end, you have to do your research and take responsibility for your choices. That means, don’t expect one website do all of your travel planning.