Our Travel Tuesday podcast this week looked under the lid of the ubiquitous TripAdvisor.
The stats are extraordinary – almost 3.5 million hotels, restaurants, attractions and more are listed. From Manhattan to Mozambique, to London – its most reviewed destination in 2016 – the owl will stare at you, and the industry implore you to share your views.
Yet the same industry will decry it as the original home of fake news (or certainly fake views) and the lack of authentication that allows anyone anywhere anytime review the business, whether they were ever in the place or not.
However, it wouldn’t have become the behemoth it is without users largely seeing great value in what it offers.
With George Hook, we looked at how to get the most from TripAdvisor, and avoid its traps.
Top TripAdvisor Tips
1. Ignore one-review reviewers
While TripAdvisor has trumpeted its new grading system for reviewers (a proud level 6 reviewer types!!) it doesn’t allow you filter out those who barely participate on the site.
In particular, I have an innate suspicion of the one-review mob. I work on the basis that they are either owner or opposition inspired, and wait for someone with a more rounded view of attractions.
2. Use filters
TripAdvisor allows you to filter reviews to see those that match your travel type (families, couples etc), the time of year (perfect for checking out of season reviews) or keywords. Can’t tell how close the beach is by page one reviews? Search beach above the review list to find out.
3. Are the negatives nuts?
As everywhere has a negative review on TripAdvisor (the Grand Canyon was “a sandy ditch” according to one particularly demanding traveller), read the negatives (another filter option) and see if you are dealing with reasoned critiques or people who go into meltdown without a turndown. Also remember, the average review rating on TripAdvisor is just over 4, so if you’re dropping to 3.5 or below as an average, it’s decidedly underwhelmed its audience.
4. Management response
On the basis that everywhere gets negatives, the owner or manager responses can be huge positives. You can tell a lot about the manner and ethos of a place by the response, its tone, attention to the points made and general engagement. Not all do this, but those that do and do it well can ease a lot of concerns.
5. Compare and contrast
If you still need a second opinion, search somewhere else. For hotels in particular, booking.com only has reviews from guests who’ve actually stayed and are verified as having done so. You won’t notice a world of difference in opinion however, and may come back to the TripAdvisor mothership before too long.