Monday, April 17, 2017

What's the best site for getting hotel reviews? (I have been on a few review sites, but to be honest sometimes it seems like half the reviews are written by hotel employees. I wonder if some sites like Trip Advisor or similar sites have a way of making sure that the reviews are real...)

TripAdvisor. They have their faults and failings, but love them or hate them, they have a natural monopoly.

Likewise, Google Plus may very well be a better personal social media platform, but they're never going to get everyone to migrate off Facebook because everyone else that everyone knows is on Facebook. So are all of their accumulated posts, status updates and cat pictures for the past ten years, which won't all be easily moved over to Google Plus.

So even if it were possible to build and launch a better travel review site, we'd still be stuck with TripAdvisor. The accumulated reviews for every hotel in the world, based on TripAdvisor's status for quite a few years now as the hotel review website, where one automatically goes to check a hotel, or read a review, is worth something and is indeed a valuable database. 

Image result for fake tripadvisor reviews

Every time I want to check out a hotel that I see listed for sale by a hotel broker, for example, TripAdvisor is the very next place I look. The broker will tell me things to make the hotel look good and worth a higher offer. The management will tell me things to make themselves appear to be worth keeping and left to do things they've always done them. A client-investor contemplating signing us to a management contract will tell us the things that support his own dream and vision, whether or not either is realistic in the future or grounded in past or present reality. But reading several pages of TripAdvisor reviews and taking them together will give me a pretty good idea what I'm really going to find when I get there, even if I've never visited that city before . . .

Fake reviews have been an issue with TripAdvisor for a long time, but the TripAdvisor people have had their lawyers explain to them, on several occasions, the exposure to legal liability involved if they don't do something to address them (... and it's still one of the dirtiest hotels in the world. by Michael Forrest Jones on WWMD: What Would Mike Do? The hotel blog ), so they've gotten a little better over time about addressing them; at least the malicious, negative reviews posted by someone working for a hotel's cross-town competitor, or a person who never stayed in the hotel. But they're not perfect and never will be. As with Wikipedia, anyone can open an account and post bad information. Unlike Wikipedia, it is possible to have the bad information corrected or removed from TripAdvisor, but not nearly as easy (particularly when the culprit is glowing, pie-in-the-sky, happy-valley-puppy-farm positive reviews posted by the hotel's staff or sales department itself.) . However, the bad information is not completely lacking in value, itself, so I'm going to tell you how to spot it.

  • Spotting fake reviews on TripAdvisor is basically pretty much the same as the judge advised us back when I had jury duty years ago, about how to evaluate the credibility of witnesses and evidence: you just use and apply the same standards that you use in your everyday life and business dealings to determine the truth, falsity or accuracy of what you see or hear, to pick up on the difference between a liar and a truth-teller, or someone who knows what they're talking about and someone who's full of doo-doo, or someone whose recollection is accurate and someone whose memory isn't so good, etc.
  • First, think of the things that are important to you in a hotel. And think of all the things that are important to people you know. Now, for your entertainment, pick several hotels on TripAdvisor, go through several pages of their reviews, read the comments that are there, and for any that stick out as, well, different; ask yourself, is this the kind of thing I or anyone I know would comment about, or even notice?
  • Any hotel can have a bad day. You need to read a couple dozen or more reviews to get a balanced picture. Now, if all of those reviews taken together indicate that the hotel is an overpriced voodoo hellhole, but - up popped the devil - there's one glowing review that's not only inconsistent but contradicts all the others . . . well, what do you think? Or if you see a review that acknowledges the hotel's flaws, but attempts to deny them ("I don't know why this hotel got all these bad reviews . . ."), or make excuses for them ("these people try their best but they have so much going against them") . . . who would write a review like that?
  • "I was very pleased and surprised that we got so much with our room for around $50. The King bed I slept in was very comfortable. Lightening was soft and relaxing. Room was very clean and spacious. Breakfast had many choices and was free with my room. Lobby was nice and spacious. The staff at check in and check out were gracious. Housekeepers were polite and a joy. The manager made us feel welcome at breakfast and ask if we had any suggestions or concerns." Are these the things you'd likely remember about a stay in a fifty-dollar hotel, even a 'good' one? At that rate, in most places, you're lucky you don't get mugged in the parking lot, or have your car or even your room broken into. No one who pays that little for a room gets bedazzled by the 'service', or gets - or even expects - good lighting and well-appointed space. It's possible for a $50 motel to have nicely selected and done decor: Red Roof Inn has a pretty impressive design package for its newer rooms. But if it occurs at the Shady Grove Motel, I need to see it in more than one review.
  • ". . . And the price was more than reasonable for the nice room we had. There was some confusion with our reservation at check-in, and David, the front desk clerk at the time, was very helpful and always friendly as we'd be in and out over the weekend. All of the staff that we encountered were very pleasant and accommodating." Cut the crap. Either David wrote the review, or if a guest did indeed write it, David took care to make sure they knew how to spell his name right. Any fairy tale that mentions a member of the staff by name is similarly suspect.
  • "The hotel is going threw some changes and things are looking better with the cleaning and the look of the hotel. The staff is very nice and try to make you feel like you are at home. I would stay hear again it is worth checking out." File this one under lies on the level with "the check's in the mail", "as President, I will create twelve million new jobs", "I didn't inhale", and "I'll still respect you in the morning". How do you know what the place was like before? What do you know about these 'changes' and the significance of them? Let me see if I got this right: you checked into a hotel with a so-so reputation and lots and lots of bad TripAdvisor reviews - without someone putting you up to it - and this is what you saw? Anytime a hotel review is all about changes that are occurring, there's a very high probability that it's bogus. Think about it: customers who are content to stay in a dive with a history of problems that will appear in prior TripAdvisor reviews generally won't be willing to pay the increased rates that will be necessary as part of a restructuring, renovations, and restaffing. And anyone who is a guest there afterward isn't going to be too familiar with what went before: otherwise, they would have more likely picked another hotel.
  • "I read the reviews and really wanted to give this place the benefit of the doubt. Sadly the poor ratings and descriptions are accurate. The manager is a hardworking guy in a hotel that clearly has problems with certain clientele and maybe an employee or two." If the hotel is screwed up, who cares how hard the manager works to get it that way? And who picked the staff and the clientele?
Originally appeared on Quora

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