Which hotel reviews can I trust?
Which hotel reviews can I trust? Reviews
Which hotel reviews can I trust? Mar 11, 2014
Can I trust this review?
Many travellers now rely heavily on online reviews to choose hotels and other attrachtions. But it is a real issue deciding who you can trust online. With some sites having hundreds of reviews saying wildly different things about the same hotel, how do you know who to believe? Well, I think you can tell a lot about a hotel by reading the five and zero star reviews, and seeing if the people who hate or adore the hotel are reasonable. If you read the reviews, and the people who hate the hotel are all complaining about nothing, it’s a good sign that the hotel is fine!
*is this person clearly wrong?
You’d think this is subjective, but some people are just objectively incorrect. I saw one review of a hotel that is on Princes Street, the main street in Edinburgh, that said “the location is awful – there is nothing to do here.” The hotel is five minutes from the main shopping centres, ten minutes walk from the castle, five minutes walk from the clubbing district, five minutes from the tourist district, and 15 minutes from all the main museums. This person is plainly just wrong, and can be ignored.
And if you don't know the town? Most review sites have a map, so if it says "the location is awful" you can look at the map and check. If the criticism is something else, like there are no buses, that might take a bit of a google search. But the easy way is to read two or three other reviews and see if they
*is this person clearly just completely unreasonable?
They might be right, but just totally unreasonable. Again, I was reading a review for a five star hotel in Edinburgh (a girl can dream, right?), built in the late 1800s as a luxury railway hotel, and the zero star review said “I hated it - it’s really old.” Um, yes. It’s major selling point is it is a beautiful historic building. Of course it’s old.
Another example- “I fell over and they didn’t agree to give me compensation immediately” – real review, that one. But it’s unreasonable to assume the receptionist has the power to agree legal liability for a fall, however it was caused. Similarly, if someone is reviewing a popular restaurant and complaining that they came at 8pm on a Friday and it took the waitress 10 minutes to find them a table, then unless they are Madonna or a well known restaurant critic they are not being reasonable.
*is this person anything like me?
Imagine you are reading a review that gives a hotel zero stars because “there is no business centre” or “the family room is too small for a family.” Those are both completely reasonable, and might be true – do you care? You might, if you really need a fax machine or if you are taking a child, but you won’t if you are travelling for fun with no children. And if the complaint is that “the restaurant shuts at nine, which is too early” - you’re a travbuddy. Did you really want to eat in the hotel, or were you off out exploring anyway?
*does the review actually say anything?
This works at both ends of the scale. A review that either says “Love it! It was great!” and then stops, or a review that says “never stay here, it’s awful” but provides no more information, can safely be ignored, because it doesn’t actually tell you anything. You can't tell if the person is wrong, unreasonable, or right but nothing like you unless they tell you that.
*does this person Writ lik DIS!!!!!!
Now, obviously, English is not everyone’s first language, so I am not talking about people who don’t write good English because it's their second or third language. But it is my considered opinion that if someone is a native English speaker and their review looks like this:
“I HATE dis HOTEL It is SCUM THR WERE dustz Evrywere!!!!!”
Then it is safe to ignore them, because they WRIT lik DIS!!! And really, if you want me to listen to you, then you have to at least try to look sane. Obviously, the odd multiple exclamation mark or “soooo nice!” or smiley face is fine, and probably a good sign, but not a whole review that looks like it was written by a bad parody website or a LOL cat.
And yes, I know a lot of people in travbuddy quite often post things in the forums that look like this: UR sooo right! CU there! and now think I am a total snob. I probably am, but somehow it's different in a forum. I can't explain why, but I think it's because forums are informal where as reviews are meant to be a bit more authoratative. I also know that people are going to think that it's hard to tell the difference between Writ lik DIS!!! and English as a second language, but it really isn't. There isn't a language school in the world that teaches you to uSe capITals so badly, and the difference between simple errors (saying different instead of difference, or my Dutch friend who always writes de instead of the, in the same way I write terrible awful French and get my le and la muddled in French and get my accents the wrong way round but I would never esCRIT com CAAAA!!!! because that would be stupid) and deliberate Writ lik DIS!!! is pretty obvious really. For a start, you don't want to strangle them by the end. Also, you can check the hometown, at least on TB.
*is the review old?
This depends on what the person is complaining about. My work put me in a small hotel in London that had horrible reviews, for dingy damp rooms and bad décor. I was dreading it. But it had a refurbishment three months ago and now it’s lovely. You might be OK. Check the posting date, and then the hotel website for reference to chages, if that sort of thing is worrying you.
*horn and halo effects – was this really the hotel’s fault?
This works both ways too. If someone says “I had a miserable time here, it rained all week and my flight was cancelled and I got a stomach bug on the plane” then that is not the hotel’s fault. Try to read a bit of the blog – if you are ill and sad anyway, you’re probably pretty likely to hate the hotel just because you are having a horrible time. The flip side is the person who is having a wonderful time; “the hotel was a bit tatty and the food made me ill but everything was soooo friendly!” particularly if the reviewer is on a honeymoon or their first gap year, they might just love everything. You could make them sleep in the bus shelter and it would be “soooo fun.” And that’s great, and they might be right, so don’t count it out completely. But if it’s the only sunny review then you might want to consider the more balanced views.
*sometimes, the person is right.
Sometimes, there is a well written review posted recently where they are complaining about, for example, the hotel being above a noisy road or the breakfast being too early, and that will bother you, then you can trust the review.
*wisdom of crowds
If you’re on one of the big websites with hundreds of reviews, what’s the average? I’d say that if 75% are four or five stars, you’re probably OK.
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2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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