How to find trustworthy travel reviews
The internet has made it easy for everyday people to share their experiences about using companies’ products and services. Instead of just believing the over-hyped marketing messages produced by the companies themselves you can simply go online and find real reviews from their customers.
This is especially true for travel services, such as hotel and restaurant reviews.
However, this can still cause two main problems if you are looking for genuine reviews.
1. The companies themselves could plant either glowing reviews about themselves, or bad reviews about their competitors, so how do you know which ones to trust?
2. Due to the faceless nature of the internet, it can empower people to be very bold and aggressive when reviewing. Often a small problem can get blown out of proportion leading to an unbalanced review.
So how do you get the best out of reviews and avoid the false and extreme reviews?
1. Skip the extremes
One way to know you’re avoiding some of the more blatantly falsified reviews is to the skip all the 5 stars and the 1 stars. Sure some of these (or all of these – remember not all companies are dishonest) will be genuine reviews from either happy or angry customers, but it also means you’re left with the averages in the middle, which probably offer a more balanced view of the truth about the service.
2. Look for commonalities
Generic reviews that don’t go into the details can be a bit of a warning sign. Generally there is one or two things about a product or service that people love or hate, and that will be what gets mentioned in the reviews. Look for repeat mentions of certain features or experiences and you’ll probably find this is a genuine reflection of what people really think.
3. Check the grammar and construction
One way to sometimes spot a fake review is that it is simply too well written and formatted. The truth is that many genuine travel reviews will contain spelling mistakes, lack of punctuation and a complete absence of formatting (much to the horror of many an English teacher). People are simply in a hurry online or often are not familiar with correct word processing formats, and this leads to mistakes. However, when planting reviews many times this ‘natural’ style of reviews gets overlooked and instead a word perfect review is written.
4. Look for journalistic reviews
Lastly, instead of reading ‘customer’ reviews that can be easily manipulated, try looking for reviews from journalists of respected media. These are people who are getting paid by a third-party to give their honest opinion, and yes you could argue that the company being reviewed could buy their opinions, but this is harder to do with journalists of a respected media outlet.
Here’s some further comments and tips made by your fellow Mobal Members…
Richard Taub says:
I have reserved numerous hotels in Europe using the reviews. I check different websites and look for those with lots of reviews. And I take the negative reviews very seriously.
Yes, I do, as I read and then go there, they are true. What I cannot trust is when people say the bed was “comfortable”, as comfortable to one person is awful to the next. When someone isn’t from the USA and says the bed is comfortable I question that….have they slept on one of the new 14″ pillow top mattresses, or just the old European 7″ hard ones???
I often look hotels up on Trip Advisor. There may be a wide range of opinions. I generally discount the best and the worst, and assume that the truth is somewhere in between. Many hotels, especially in older buildings have several classes of room, or rooms of different sizes, or rooms that have been re-decorated and rooms in need of refurbishment. I am seldom disappointed.
Diane Rice says:
I’ve learned that the most disgruntled people generally write the really bad reviews and that for every 1 person who slams a property, 100 others were perfectly satisfied. We all know you get what you pay for; why do some people book cheap rooms and then complain at the quality? One London hotel review was so bad that we almost changed our booking for five rooms, but decided to just tough it out, and were very pleasantly surprised at the quality of our stay and our rooms and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I no longer blindly trust Trip Advisor’s reviews and instead, assume that I can ignore the very best and very worst reviews on the site to believe something in the middle.
use trip advisor but don’t totally trust first time posters of reviews. look for someone who has posted a lot of reviews and also often read the bad ones as well. just to see if they make any sense or if it is just someone who is hostile or a bit crazy. eg. bed bugs everywhere.
d. kruse says:
I don’t always trust them as I have often felt the exact opposite, but I DO read and pay attention!
I no longer trust reviews. After leaving a negative review on a major hotel sales site the review was not posted. My trust level for the positive reviews is way down.
I read them and take the negative ones seriously. As far as the positives – if they sound too good to be true I figure somone with the hotel has posted them – anything relatively normal I’ll keep in mind.
Patrick Milligan says:
I read all of the reviews. I believe you can get a pretty good understanding of the quality that way.
I, too, read as many of the latest ones as I can (newer than 2 years old) and sort of “average it out.”
Doing that has saved me from many a travel heartache, and has let to some wonderful new hotel finds!
Agree or disagree? Got your own tips? Share them as a comment below…