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Are Trip Advisor Reviews Reliable?

written by The Travel Captain October 5, 2016

I was an avid reviewer and user of Trip Advisor for years until recently.  Trip Advisor reviews were my first and last stop when researching hotels and attractions before I traveled.  But I’m not sure they’re so reliable anymore.  I’ve been checking other sites as backup and the information doesn’t always check out, enough times that I’ve pretty much stopped using it.  There are other causes for concern too.

 

Reasons I’m Skeptical About Trip Advisor Reviews

  • Hotels and merchants seem to be outsourcing positive reviews to inflate ranking.  You’ll see people/profiles with only one review written.  It just happens to be a glowing recommendation for that particular hotel or restaurant.  They seem to be purchased reviews or friends of the merchant.  Tip: Look at the stats under the reviewer’s profile picture.  Check booking.com which have verified reviews from actual users
  • Red flag: I wasn’t allowed to share a negative review more than a few times.  I factually recounted a terrible experience with a venue and submitted it several times.  First, the manager of the venue had it removed.  When I tried to resubmit it, I was given a list of guidelines from Trip Advisor via email which bore no relevance to what I was writing about

What good are Trip Advisor reviews if you can’t read about the negative too?!  It’s happened more than once and never have I been able to correspond with a real person or customer service when following up.  It’s all automated responses.  Boo! Tip: Find another platform to get your review out there. Travelers need to hear both sides.  Booking.com, Yelp, the vendor’s Facebook page or a post on your account tagging them.

  • As you become a seasoned traveler, you’ll realize many TripAdvisor reviews are written by inexperienced travelers. Some have little desire to venture away from the mass tourist areas/things to do.  TripAdvisor is not necessarily the platform to use for bespoke experiences.  Tip: Try Rough Guides, travel blogs in that niche or search hashtags on social media
  • Similar to the point above, Trip Advisor reviews are self perpetuating.  People generally stick to the Top 10 Things To Do, Top 10 Restaurants, Top 10 Hotels.  Hence, they’ll review only those 10 so other great attractions never make it to the light of day.  I can’t tell you how many amazing experiences I’ve had with boutique hotels which were down on the list

Research restaurants in any city on the platform.  You’re inclined to look at the top 5-10 rated ones based on your budget and location.  But these are the biggest tourist traps with usually the most inauthentic food!  No greater example of this phenomenon exists than in Istanbul.  Travelers always review restaurants in Sultanahmet, one of the worst places to eat.  Why? Because its where many of the hotels are.  P.S. If you need advice on where to eat in Istanbul, read Where to Eat Real Turkish Cuisine in Istanbul

  • One person’s garbage is another’s treasure.  You and I may have completely different expectations on what constitutes 5 star or luxury.  Many reviewers call the JW Marriott in Phuket luxurious.   Friends of mine found it to be dated and of 4 star quality.  It sounds obnoxious but travelers have expectations which they want their hard earned money to purchase and meet  Tip:  Look for reviews from publications or bloggers that match your travel style.  Do a Google search for “hotel’s name + review”
  • And finally… if its in the Top 10 in Trip Advisor reviews, the price is certainly jacked to reflect that

So, are Trip Advisor reviews reliable?  You tell me.

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