We all like to stay in the best accommodation our budget can afford when we travel, whether that be a shiny week in the sun or a dirty weekend in the city. When it comes to finding out where is best to stay in your holiday destination, these days its possible to visit travel review websites, such as TripAdvisor, to checkout what real travellers are saying about the hotels and guesthouses you could be staying in. But how can you be sure that the reviews are valid?
Tripadvisor has a rather strong viewpoint on fake reviews, using unknown (but no doubt exceedingly clever) methods for weeding out multiple reviews from the same people (or indeed hotel owners themselves) to either reduce of inflate an accommodation rating... and this is something I appreciate. However, it is not the chance that a review could be fake that irritates me, oh no, what I do take exception to is the reviewers that inflate their reviews to 5 stars totally unnecessarily. For example, I recently stayed at a hotel, that shall remain nameless, in the North of England. Listed as a 4 star hotel and sporting rather good reviews (an average of 4.5 stars no less!), we booked it for a weekend away.
After the glowing TripAdvisor reviews I was expecting great things, so when we were greeted by threadbare carpets, a bathroom from the 1970s (in both decor and cleanliness!) and staff that were so nonchelant they were postively prostrate, I couldn't understand what had gone wrong, this was not the hotel in the reviews surely? On our return I decided to put my own review in TripAdvisor, in the spirit of balance I had to say what was really there at the hotel, what it was really like... and it was then I actually read some of the other reviews and was even more baffled from than before...
There was a current review dated the exact dates we were at the hotel and the reviewer had awarded the hotel five stars (top of the tree!) but had included comments similar to these in the actual review; "Staff were friendly and tried to be helpful, even if they didn't always get it right", "Bedrooms are tired and tatty and the door never closed properly", "The grubby grouting and broken tiles in the bathroom wasn't very appealing". Doesn't sound too great does it? So why did this reviewer still award the property five big fat shiny stars? Its almost like the person reviewing the hotel had someone watching them write the review and felt obligated to give five stars but wrote the truth if you read the review fully. Or it could be that the people enjoyed their weekend away, despite the fact that the hotel was grotty, so gave it good review anyway because they came home happy.
So how does this help me? It doesn't! When I am searching for a hotel review, they are rated in order of the stars that people have bestowed upon them, so giving a grotty hotel five (unwarranted) stars boosts its positioning. Not everyone will read every word of the review you write, so don't be all 'stiff upper lip' and only elude to the filfthy bathroom and Basil Fawlty type service, use the stars wisely. Bad service and grotty rooms should drop a couple of stars at least!
All in all, it makes a mockery of reviews websites when people are unessarily biased because the sun was shining on the day they left the hotel, or the waiter winked at them at breakfast. Let us all be realistic about the service and standards we are paying for and review honestly and fairly!