The Key to Translating TripAdvisor

It’s so easy to become dependent on the opinion of others when it comes to making decisions. I do it all the time. What star rating did it get on Google? How many people reviewed it on Tripadvisor? What was the rating on Yelp? Did most people like it — were the averages 3 star or 5 star?

We’ve all asked these questions – especially when we book travel.

But too much of a good thing can be bad. TripAdvisor can be your best friend and your worst enemy. How many times have you checked the reviews on TripAdvisor before making a decision to book a hotel? Eat at a restaurant? Take a tour? Use an agency? 

There’s a trick to the trade when it comes to using TripAdvisor. It requires a certain amount of “translating” before we can come to a clear decision based on the opinions of others. Did you know there are quite a few of fake reviews? Did you know reviews are given by competitors to take down their opposition? Yes, not all the reviews are true, verified opinions of guests (though measures have been taken to hedge against these, it still happens). 

So what to do? Here’s the key to translating TripAdvisor:

1. Stars are not everything

Just because something receives 3 stars, doesn’t always mean it’s a 3 star experience. People can leave a low 1 star for as simple as not liking one dish on a menu, or perhaps they didn’t like the brand of shampoos in the room. My suggestion: read through the low reviews — were they because of service or cleanliness or a dislike of something personally?

2. Quantity is key

One thing to keep in mind is places can leave their own reviews by way of employees or friends/family. Are there only 20 reviews, of which most don’t have complete sentences? I trust reviews when there are at least 50+ and the majority have full reviews — not just “clean room,” “friendly,” and “good food.” Look for signs of full reviews that dive into details. When someone only leaves a short review, they also leave a star rating which affects the overall rating of place — of which of course is not an accurate reflection of a place.

3. Read

I could not emphasis this enough. Go through the last 20 reviews and really look at the details. Look for personal experiences that were recent. Hotels have low and high seasons – typically towards the end of high season, maintenance goes down hill as they will do the majority of repairs during low season. So I have found the reviews of cleanliness and maintenance to be very good during the beginning of peak season and just the complete opposite at the end of peak season. I always keep this in mind then reading hotel reviews — it certainly doesn’t excuse the hotel but if I know I am there during peak seasons, it will probably be a different story then the person who was there at the tail end.

4. Not everyone has the same preferences

Example: A man goes to dine at an Italian restaurant, afterwards he decides to leave a 2 star review. In the review he says, he does not like the taste of Italian food thus the restaurant deserves a low rating. Get my point? Everyone has different preferences, level of comfort, and taste. Just because someone didn’t like the modern decor at a hotel doesn’t mean you won’t — that person probably prefers more contemporary design. This all goes back to reading the low reviews in detail.

Hopefully this helps you the next time you look to TripAdvisor to help you make a decision in booking travel. We are blessed to have this resource and I love using it when I want to see traveler’s photos and get feedback from people. 

Bon travels xx

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