woman reading reviews on a laptop
If you’re like many travelers, one of the first places you go when trying to decide which hotel room to book or which restaurant to dine at is TripAdvisor.

Should You Really Trust TripAdvisor Reviews?

So How Do You Know If a Business is Worth Going To?

If you’re like many travelers, one of the first places you go when trying to decide which hotel room to book or which restaurant to dine at is TripAdvisor. After all, the site has hundreds of millions of reviews on over 6.5 million businesses and properties in 136,000 destinations around the world and counting.

Plus the TripAdvisor app is one of the best travel apps to have on your phone in case you quickly want to find a place to eat or lay your head while you’re on the go.

In recent years, more and more of those businesses rely on a high TripAdvisor ranking for success — and in some places, particularly in developing countries, it’s not just a competition, but a struggle to survive.

But are TripAdvisor reviews reliable? Do those businesses somehow inflate their ratings? And, what about the subjective opinion of reviewers?

The definition of good service, a comfy room and delicious cuisine can vary tremendously on the tastes and personalities of each and every reviewer. One person’s idea of a luxury, five-star property can be the definition of another’s three-star experience, for example.

If you travel a lot, odds are you’ve stayed at a hotel one reviewer defined as being only decent for a short stay, but that you found to be more than adequate. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve probably booked a hotel rated as a “Traveler’s Choice” winner, yet when you arrived you found it to be anything but.

And there’s yet another issue thrown into the mix. People are more likely to share a bad experience than a good one.

A recent survey found that 95% of respondents who’ve had a bad experience say they told someone, compared to 87% who shared a good experience. More than half of respondents who said they shared a bad experience say they shared it more than five times, compared to just one-third who shared a good interaction.

When it comes to taking the time to write an online review, it’s likely there is an even greater difference as far as who is sharing and who isn’t.

So, with all of those factors in mind, how do you really know what’s going to live up to your expectations and what’s not?

While the majority of reviews are generally reliable, there are a few things you should keep in mind when analyzing them to put together your trip.

Find out How Many Reviews the Reviewer Has Contributed

When you’re reading through those glowing reviews that Hotel XYZ has received, take a look some of the reviewers’ profiles. Reviews written by a person who has only a limited number of postings are suspect, whether negative or positive.

Sometimes competitors will write negative reviews about their competition in hopes of getting that business, and other times the property or business itself will directly post or incentivize someone else to post rave reviews in order to balance out critical ones.

Generally, those dishonest reviews are posted by people who don’t post many reviews, if any, about other businesses.

At the same time, if a reviewer has a history of posting lots of harsh reviews, chances are they either have a very negative outlook, are a disgruntled former employee, or they’re determined to bring down a business they feel is hurting their own.

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Delve Further Into the Reviewers’ History

A reviewer that almost always stays at luxury, five-star properties may have a skewed perspective when staying at a two- or three-star hotel. Their expectations may be unrealistic.

What’s most important is that the property is a good value for the price and location. If the review is negative, read further to find out what was missing and why the person felt that it didn’t have value.

If that information isn’t included, you may want to dismiss it.

Was the Review Balanced?

A review that’s overly complimentary or all negative may be questionable. Just about every place has its pros and cons.

The truth is, sometimes travel reviews don’t tell the whole story, and a tell-tale sign of this is when the review seems oversimplified.

Complaints out of the Establishment’s Control

There are many reviewers that complain about something that was completely out of the business’ control. For example, a hotel guest failed to read through the property’s website that clearly listed all of the amenities and then complained that it didn’t have a pool.

Or a restaurant patron complained that his or her dining experience was ruined because 9-1-1 had to be called when another patron suffered from a heart attack (extreme example, but it’s actually happened).

Obviously, these types of complaints shouldn’t be taken into account as there was nothing the business could have done, or should do in the future, that can change that.

By keeping all of this in mind, you’ll have a much better idea of which reviews you can rely on, and which you can’t, resulting in fewer bumps out on the road.

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