Trip Advisor Travel Reviews: How Trustworthy Are They?

We have all done it. Searched for hotels and, before making the final decision to book, logged onto Trip Advisor to check the reviews. I always do this and have found this system to be reliable over the years. But, after watching a TV documentary about the impact the reviews have on small, family run businesses, I asked myself: Does Trip Advisor put TOO MUCH power in the hands of the customer?

Attack of the Trip Advisors, on Channel 4 in the UK, was presented from two viewpoints: the reviewer and the business.

There was one reviewer who drew a dot on his sheets every day to check if they were changed.

This particular person was also disgusted when he received a vodka and tonic instead of the vodka and lemonade he asked for – even though the waitress was polite and swapped the drinks straight away.

Geez, there are worse things to complain about, I thought.

While some reviewers clearly take things too far, there is no doubt that Trip Advisor is a valuable tool from a customer’s point of view.

I just feel really sorry for those businesses that have clearly been the victim of the ‘petty pedantics’.

When I look at reviews, though, it is always clear which ones are ridiculous. I always ignore these ones.

Especially when you are looking at budget accommodation in somewhere like Paris and somebody is moaning about the most ridiculous things, as if they were expecting five star luxury.

It is true: You get what you pay for.

Saying that, there are some things which need to be reported.

Uncleanliness, bed bug problems, noise pollution, poor location – these are all issues which should not be swept under the carpet.

In an ideal world, all reviews would be legitimate and well-founded. They would highlight the bad places and shine a beacon of light over the best ones.

But is this what Trip Advisor is doing?

It would be great to hear your views. What do you think? Do you use Trip Advisor?




    • November 6, 2011 / 11:06

      I agree, they was definitely an ‘interesting’ choice of people! Thanks for comment :-)

  1. November 6, 2011 / 00:40

    I use the with a very open mind. I tend to give the rating more credence when there are more than 40 or so. Even then I have found a lot of reviewers to be overly critical expecting to be waited on and treated as if they were rock stars staying at high end luxury hotel. I have stayed places that received bad reviews to find the place was very nice. You also have to wonder how many reviews are submitted by competitors. One way is to look at the reviewer and see what else they reviewed and if there is a pattern. I am not sure if they do this already but one thing Trip Advisor could do would be to allow the hotel to comment and respond to reviews and let the consumer make the decision. Bottom line is I don’t immediate accept or reject a hotel based on Trip Advisor.

    • November 6, 2011 / 11:04

      That’s an interesting point about competitors being able to use Trip Advisor as a sabotage tool. I agree with approaching the reviews with an open mind and not immediately writing a place off based on one poor review. Thanks for your comment :-)

  2. November 14, 2011 / 17:20

    Yes, sabotage and fake (positive) reviews are all over it, but you can usually tell them apart (at least the fake positive ones).
    I have come across one more interesting “story”/experience, here in Greece: A family run hotel was listed as a top choice/hidden gem/bargain for its destination so we decided to go there. They seemed to rely heavily on TripAdvisor and promoted their ranking there. Even today (3 years later), there are many positive reviews so I suppose some people find value in it or we were really unlucky, but here’s what happened: On the third(?) night we discovered 3 large roaches when we came back to our room. We were given the chance to move to a different room (from 1st to 2nd floor). Later that night, we see Mr. Roach popping up to visit us again, crawling into our room from some water/heat pipe. We called and informed them we would be leaving early next day. We were given many “sorrys”, excuses and their full understanding (no fuss, no extra charges). The next morning, away in a new, larger hotel, we get a message from our first hotel that they want to refund our full stay there (all 4 days). We thought it was proper of them, we got our money back and so we didn’t feel like writing a bad review since they had made up for their mess.
    So, the hotel may be using compensation as a means to dissuade you from writing on TripAdvisor (though they never hinted at that).

  3. November 14, 2011 / 19:24

    It is disappointing when somewhere is not up to the standard expected. Interesting you got a full refund and decided not to put a bad review. I guess if, like you said, an effort is made to make amends then this is something at least. I wonder, without the roaches, would it have been a decent place?

    • November 15, 2011 / 00:01

      It’s not often that you find such open-minded / accommodating attitude (full refund) in Greece. On top, the owner came over early at dusk (6:00am) to inform our a coach bus that we would not go on the planned excursion that day and she arranged for us to get a refund on that as well. So, writing a bad review would have made me feel bad in this case.
      It did seem like a fairly decent place without the roaches, though nothing amazing. In retrospect, the dark, garage-like basement below the building should have rung a bell:)