News for the Hospitality Executive
“A Hidden Gem!” or “Lame!!!”?
Online Travel Reviewers to Watch Out For
|By Daniel Edward Craig, November
In 2007, a traveler wrote the following review of Opus Hotel Vancouver on TripAdvisor: “The GM who thought he was Ian Fleming was a real detriment to a great trip. Shame -- let’s hope the hotel sees sense and releases Daniel to make another movie.”
Ouch. The comment was a reference to my James Bond namesake and my secondary career as a mystery novelist, but nonetheless I was baffled by it, having no recollection of any guest encounter that would have provoked a public cry for my dismissal. Since the review was anonymous, we had no way of contacting the guest to find out what went wrong. Because it was a personal attack that offered little useful information, we asked TripAdvisor to remove it. But they refused, and it remains there today. Sometimes we hoteliers have to set aside our professionalism and say, “Whatever”.
In my last post I wrote about online travel reviews from a hotelier’s perspective. This time I take off my hotelier’s hat to poke some fun at online reviews from a traveler’s perspective.
When planning trips, I always check out amateur reviews for a refreshing, grassroots alternative to the salesy propaganda on hotel websites. Yet as these sites grow in popularity the process has become increasingly time-consuming and confusing. The playing field is now so cluttered, the reviews so contradictory and polarized, it’s hard to know who to believe anymore.
And whereas the vast majority of reviews are benevolent and seemingly authentic, a few reviewer types have emerged whose advice should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the spirit of parody, here are a few to watch out for.
The Self-Appointed Expert. This reviewer has posted scores of reviews, yet quite possibly has never left his computer room. An aspiring travel memoirist, he writes lengthy, flowery missives colored with acid-tongued remarks like, “To call this a fleabag hotel would be an insult to fleas and bags everywhere.” Although he positions himself as a martyr to the travel community, he wouldn’t object if a hotel offered him a free stay in exchange for a glowing review.As a rule I bypass extreme reviews -- unless there are a lot, in which case I take heed. I also skip reviews with the word “lame”, the online word of choice for people with a chip their shoulder. I find the hotel’s overall ranking to be helpful, but it doesn’t always tell the real story. Pull up your home city on TripAdvisor. Do you agree with the top five hotels? There’s always at least one that raises an eyebrow.
Recognizing that not every reviewer has the interests of fellow travelers in mind, Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline restrict reviews to customers only, whereas anyone can post a review on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yahoo and Travelocity. TripAdvisor has been known to post a warning to travelers if it questions the authenticity of reviews, but this practice has attracted a flurry of criticism in the blogosphere.
There’s no question, online reviews are a great resource, providing insight, humor and tried-and-true tips from the field. Yet travelers shouldn’t forget to consult the experts in print and online guidebooks, newspapers and magazines. If I find a lump on my throat, I’m heading to a doctor for treatment, not to some online quack who claims to be able to show me how to remove the lump from home.
We can all help increase the reliability of reviews
by posting our own after our trips. Just remember to stick to the facts,
play fair, and go easy on the punctuation. And try not to get too personal.
It might not always seem evident, but hotel managers have feelings too.
By Daniel Edward Craig
|Also See:||Online Reviews: The Bane of Hotels? Existence or an Unprecedented Opportunity? / Daniel Edward Craig / October 2009|
|Are You Hoping Guests Won’t Notice the Jack-hammering in the Lobby? A Case Study for Hotels/ Daniel Edward Craig / May 2009|
|Lifestyle Hotels: Gotta Have Soul / Daniel Edward Craig / July 2009|
|Are You Hoping Guests Won't Notice the Jack-hammering in the Lobby? A Case Study for Hotels/ Daniel Edward Craig / May 2009|
|Hotel Industry Trends in 2009: A Lighthearted Approach / Daniel Craig / January 2009|
|Home Sweet Hotel; Living in a Hotel Not as Glamorous As it Sounds / Daniel Edward Craig / October 2008|