6 November 2011

My review on reviews

I first discovered Trip Advisor a few years ago when increasingly, hotel and holiday searches brought up the review before the official page.

Since then, I have written 24 reviews and actually look forward to coming home from a holiday so that I can share experiences. You can see my profile: Pinotnoirgirl on Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor has also started to include reviews of restaurants which is great because, for me, what you eat and drink when away tends to add to your overall holiday or travelling experience. The site also updates you on how many people read your reviews or view your profile. I love this because it gives you an indication as to whether people are looking at what you write and are finding it useful. Apparently, my reviews posted this year have been read 1,027 times so far, which I find really interesting.

However, lately, I've fallen a bit out of love with Trip Advisor. And so I wanted to explore this in an attempt to renew my love.

People don't give feedback directly
One of my favourite UK hotels is Hotel Terravina. Based in the New Forest, it's run by the guy that set up Hotel Du Vin and has the perfect mix of delicious food and drinks coupled with friendly service.
My balcony when I stayed at Hotel Terravina
On the Hotel Blog the hotelier's wife, Nina Bassett, recently wrote about the frustrations of visitors who rant about their experiences on review sites after they have left, having given only positive feedback during their stay. Nina finds this difficult because it gives her staff little opportunity to rectify issues during a visitor's stay, meaning they only find out about mistakes after the point.

This seems mental to me. Absolutely write about your experience on review sites, as it helps other travellers to make informed decisions. However, you've paid for your holiday (or if you're lucky someone else has!) and you deserve to enjoy it while you are there. So if something is not right and can be rectified, speak up and try and get it resolved.

The reviews aren't real
Increasingly I hear people claiming that most of the reviews on Trip Advisor are made by hotels or travel companies rather than genuine holiday makers.
Beautiful Santorini - the reviews are great, but I believe them
This upset me because I have made many a decision based on reviews on Trip Advisor. Whilst I'm sure this does happen, I just can't believe that the majority of reviews are false. I recently stayed at a lovely hotel in Santorini called Hotel 28. Everything about this experience was brilliant. The staff couldn't do more to please, the rooms were spotless and the whole place was classy and relaxed.

On Trip Advisor the hotel is currently rated second in Kamari. I've read the reviews and many are from people we met while there because they're talking about the same things! One of them is quite mixed, and I know the occasion they are referring to, so I know it to be true.

It's the only way you can get poor experiences dealt with
These days, some people believe the only way to get a problem dealt with is by complaining in the social sphere. Many companies have become savvy to the fact that publicly responding to complaints on review sites or on other mediums such as Twitter can reflect well on the hotel or supplier.

Yet I believe that, like in many other areas of life, customer centric companies tend to respond to complaints and those that don't care, well, don't.

For example, I recently booked a cheap and cheerful holiday to Ibiza and chose Hotel Buenavista. While there were some positives about the place, there were a great deal of bad points. The staff were sourly to say the least, the rooms were scruffy and dirty and the pool was treacherous. I gave feedback to our tour operator, Thomson, directly through the forms on the plane and the post holiday email questionnaire and indirectly through Trip Advisor. None of these complaints have been dealt with or acknowledged in any way.

Reviews take too long to get published
Due to Trip Advisor's popularity, it's taking them longer and longer to approve reviews, especially if they contain photos. I once put up a review that took 14 days to be sent live, and then some of the pictures had been moderated out without a reason being given.

Whilst I understand that the site wants to minimise spam and offensive comments or photos, this can be frustrating because you want your review to be available to travellers as soon as possible, and no one likes to wait!
One of my photos that did not get published. Maybe my foot was offensive!
It astounds me that Trip Advisor has not invested in better technology to get around this and it's clearly all still manual. I know that in other social media spheres such as Facebook you can invest in monitoring tools such as Conversocial which immediately remove spam or swear words. And when you build forums or blogs you can plug in technology which operates similarly. For something as big as Trip Advisor, it seems crazy they are still relying on a manual work around.

The verdict?
Overall, I still love Trip Advisor. It's not perfect, but it's the biggest and most comprehensive holiday review site. I'll never go on holiday without having a little look at the review first, but probably take the following things into account:
  • If the review sounds like something out of a brochure or too good to be true, it probably is
  • If the review sounds like a rant or nit picking then ignore it
  • People have different standards so look at their other reviews. Are they just serial complainers
  • Those with more reviews tend to be more trustworthy and look at more than one review
  • Load up your pictures separately as the photos can take ages to load
  • Don't expect companies to respond or even look at Trip Advisor. It isn't an official complaint medium. If you have a problem, tell your operator or hotel at the time and try and get it fixed
  • There are other places to look at reviews or holiday experiences. Travel blogs like mine can be a great place to get a more informed view of a destination, rather than a snapshot
  • And finally, hey it's your holiday. Don't let yourself get too stressed, sometimes a lovely glass of wine can make everything seem better


  1. Good tips! i always read trip adviser before booking anything and there is always some idiot on there who hates everything! I look at the age and info on their profile before i 'believe' them... this is no doubt ridiculous...but it makes me feel better :o)

  2. Love this post! Thanks for the tips :) So true when it comes to judging a review to check out how fussy a person is, some people just use Trip Advisor to rant about minor details which would not warrant a complaint. I would only complain about a hotel on Trip Advisor if they didn't help me at the hotel originally. Luckily I have never had to do this!

    I find Twitter is really useful for recommendations on where to stay, particularly in the UK. Also on Bookings.com, their hotels have genuine customer reviews when you book a hotel that can help you decide :)

  3. Good tips! I always look on trip advisor before booking anything and many a time i've been saved from wasting a lot of money on something cack! If it's a review that seems out of kilter with the others then this is easily ignored...although i do have a habit of ignoring people i don't agree with :o)