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Tripadvisor is no longer reliable

Tripadvisor is no longer reliable

Old Dec 20, 10, 2:29 am
  #1  
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Tripadvisor is no longer reliable

I've been posting reviews on Tripadvisor.com since 2003, and have been reading reviews there even longer. I still find reviews at Tripadvisor to be more useful than on any other site I've used. BUT the reliability of the site's reviews has plummeted in the past couple of years or so.

It used to be that user-generated ranking of hotels in a given area matched reasonably well with how I would rank the hotels. The 5-star places I'd stayed at and had excellent experiences with would occupy the top of the Tripadvisor ranks. Nowadays, for some locations there's a good chance you will find some dinky 2- or 3-star place with adequate but not exceptional customer service rated as the number one hotel rather than a 4- or 5-star hotel that has good or excellent service in the same area.

Part of the problem seems to be that hotel owners and managers now know about Tripadvisor and try to game the system by writing favorable reviews. It used to be easy to identify those reviews because many tripadvisor review writers had written previous reviews for other places while the insiders tended to just have one or a handful of reviews. However, now the vast majority of Tripadvisor reviews seem to be contributed by single-review reviewers. I think this is due at least partly to Tripadvisor having decided to merge reviews from other sites into the Tripadvisor reviews collection.

As a result, I find myself more and more often using Tripadvisor primarily for the photos posted by reviewers rather than for the written reviews.

Still, once I've narrowed down the hotel choices to just one to three places, I will read all of the reviews in the past year or so, depending on the number of reviews per hotel, to get a general idea of what kind of experience the hotel's customers have been reporting, discounting but not completely ignoring any reviews submitted by reviewers who have posted fewer than a half-dozen or so reviews to the site.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 9:11 am
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I disagree with some of your post. I think the reason that tripadvisor ratings do not correlate with star ratings is primarily due to the 'value for money' issue combined with reviews from infrequent travelers rather than hotels 'gaming the system'.

As more people review for tripadvisor, you get people with less traveling experience doing the reviewing. These reviewers are far more likely to rate on the extremes rather than the middle. If they have only stayed in 10 hotels in their life, the best one will get a top rating, whether or not, it really would rate that if they had stayed in 100 hotels or more. Equally, they will really punish the hotel which failed to satisfy them in some way, even if in the grand scheme of things the failure was relatively minor.

When I review, I apply the value for money proposition. So, if a five-star hotel charging, multiple several 100€'s a night, I expect the service to be spot on - no inconsistencies in the service. If I get a mix of four- and five-star service, I will rate the hotel much lower, than a 90€ three-star hotel where I get a mix of three get a mix of three- and four- star service.

As a user of tripadvisor, I have always found the comparative rankings to be relatively useless, because too often they compare apples to oranges. How do you compare a high-end property which doesn't quite meet expectations, with a one-star property which completely exceeds them?

I find it best to read the individual reviews to see what people found good and bad about the hotels, and think about how I would react to those same experiences. I also take one-time reviews with a grain of salt, not so much because they could be shills for the hotel (although that possibility does exist), but also because the reviewer does not demonstrate that they have the experience necessary to properly review a hotel. One-time reviews are often from people who have had a once-in-a-lifetime good or bad experience and are often not representative of a property.

That said, if a hotel has a lot of bad reviews, I take it seriously, no matter how many reviews each reviewer has written.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by battensea View Post
The 5-star places I'd stayed at and had excellent experiences with would occupy the top of the Tripadvisor ranks. Nowadays, for some locations there's a good chance you will find some dinky 2- or 3-star place with adequate but not exceptional customer service rated as the number one hotel rather than a 4- or 5-star hotel that has good or excellent service in the same area.
There's also the issue of Hotel Class (stars) versus Traveler Rating (circles). The Hotel Class data is provided by a third party and does not include all of the hotels on the site. So, for example, if you are looking at hotels in Playa del Carmen there are 186 properties listed. However, only 102 of them have been given a star rating. If you limit by Hotel Class, you may be missing out on a property that fits your criteria simply because it hasn't been given a star rating yet.

I'm still a huge fan of the site and use it regularly, but it can take some serious sleuthing to find what I need.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 9:42 am
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The Hotel Class data is provided by a third party and does not include all of the hotels on the site.
^

TripAdvisor is still very reliable you actually have to read the reviews to make a consensus. Don't just go by the :-: ratings.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 9:46 am
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I really dont use the rankings listed on TripAdvisor but believe the reviews and info is extremely valuable when making a decission on where to stay. I just look at the individual reviews and judge for myself who has valid complaints etc. I post a lot on TripAdvisor and find it the best site out there for getting info on a property. I think they are doing a better job these days of trying to make sure fake reviews are not posted but it is obviously difficult to police.

As far as Tripadvisor no longer being reliable. It has never been 100% reliable and never will be as it is end user generated content. Garbage in, garbage out. Nothing stopping someone from giving a 1 star review to a great hotel because they didnt take the mayo off their burger like they ask. Nothing stopping someone from giving a 1 start property 5 stars because they had indoor plumbing.

I just read the reviews and go from there. I have never agreed with their rankings and never really understood exactly how they derived them.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 10:08 am
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I agree and also focus primarily on the written reviews, particularly for negative (or perceived negative) comments. When multiple people complain about a noise or location, at least I feel I am going in with my eyes open. Often times, it is a questions of expectation management. I was recently researching a trip to Lapland for Christmas with the kids and you could tell a number of people having done day-trips from the UK were terribly disappointed, yet had they read the reviews (generically) before hand, they may have actually even enjoyed the trips.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 11:25 am
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I also find TripAdvisor useful but do not rely on it exclusively. I first look for the negative reviews to see if management has responded. If a hotel has just a few reviews, I will also look at other sites to get information. Lately, I have also started checking bedbugregistry.com, since the bedbug problem has become serious.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by You want to go where? View Post
When I review, I apply the value for money proposition. So, if a five-star hotel charging, multiple several 100's a night, I expect the service to be spot on - no inconsistencies in the service. If I get a mix of four- and five-star service, I will rate the hotel much lower, than a 90 three-star hotel where I get a mix of three get a mix of three- and four- star service.(...) I find it best to read the individual reviews to see what people found good and bad about the hotels, and think about how I would react to those same experiences.
I couldn't agree more. That's why I rated the Ibis City Centre Casablanca higher than the Sheraton a few steps away.

I read all the reviews, or at least the ones that are less than 1-2 years old*-as in some cases the hotel has been refurbished lately- and then decide what's important for me (location, cleanliness, internet, health club, etc) and what's not so relevant (unsmiling staff, noisy guests in the corridor...).

*PS: Watch out: after the oldest English review come the newest ones in other languages; so it's useful to check them out as well... if you know the language, of course.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 12:53 pm
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I also consider Tripadvisor very, very helpful. The only thing that I always crack a smile about is that many of the reviewers are apparently a lot more fussy than I am. I realize that there are some hotels out there that have huge problems... but by and large, it amazes me what small things people complain about on that site. It's almost like the airlines complaints you find on FT ;-)
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Old Dec 20, 10, 1:16 pm
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I find TripAdvisor mediocre in terms of usefulness.

I pay no attention as to what ranks in the top 10 hotels as FF traveling habits seem to vary significantly from the "mom & pop" travelers.

However, as others have mentioned, the nuggets are in the reviews themselves, after you ignore the 1-2 liners that have next to useless info.

I then back it up with searching reviews on FT, which are much more targeted to experiences with folks with higher tiers in hotel programs.

Last edited by Braindrain; Dec 20, 10 at 3:03 pm
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Old Dec 20, 10, 2:04 pm
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My general rule of thumb with Trip Advisor is to ignore the top 20% and bottom 20% of reviews. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

Mind you, reading TA reviews can be hilarious. Some people just find the most trivial things to complain about.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 2:15 pm
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We stayed at a less than stellar resort on Grand Bahama Island a few years ago and I reviewed it on TA. My wife and I will check out the reviews of this place sometimes. The reviews written by the staff are so clear and funny. It makes for an enjoyable experience to read them.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 4:50 pm
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everyone expects a different thing, all I want is clean and no street noise,

others complain if the soap is the wrong color

So if you are asking about someplace its good to know if you area backpacker , a businessman, a family etc,

They all expect something different !

RB
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Old Dec 20, 10, 4:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Camflyer View Post
My general rule of thumb with Trip Advisor is to ignore the top 20% and bottom 20% of reviews. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes-reading them is the key. I've got 89 reviews posted and am in a hotel tonight- have already taken a pic of the room and I'm about to check out the Fitness Center and pool. My reviews are detailed enough that you know if the things that I liked/didn't like matter to you. TA hasn't steered us wrong in selecting hotels but that's because I go beyond the numerical ranking.
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Old Dec 20, 10, 5:15 pm
  #15  
fti
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Originally Posted by Braindrain View Post
I find TripAdvisor mediocre in terms of usefulness.

I pay no attention as to what ranks in the top 10 hotels as FF traveling habits seem to vary significantly from the "mom & pop" travelers.

However, as others have mentioned, the nuggets are in the reviews themselves, after you ignore the 1-2 liners that have next to useless info.

I then back it up with searching reviews on FT, which are much more targeted to experiences with folks with higher tiers in hotel programs.
I am much like you. Actually I am a Destination Expert in one of the forums on TA and the forums are great. But reviews of many hotels are manipulated. In fact, TA is in the process of being sued by hoteliers in both the UK and US because of this.

Originally Posted by Camflyer View Post
My general rule of thumb with Trip Advisor is to ignore the top 20% and bottom 20% of reviews. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.
And I ignore most reviews by posters with just 1-3 contributions. Many, though not all, of these, are bogus.

It is a known fact that some hotels solicit reviews from guests. So you get an influx of reviews from some hole-in-the-wall new property and it becomes a #1 or #2 of 300 hotels.

Same with attractions. Segway tour in Anchorage is the #1 attraction? And the antique car museum the #1 attraction in Fairbanks? You can readily see how absurd that is.

TA is a business. They command huge advertising revenue by the "hits" they get. They don't do all they can to weed out the fake reviews. They also don't stand up to defend posters of controversial reviews. One reviewer of a hotel in the UK mentioned that the hotel "lost" their reservation and it was fully booked up for their wedding and reception. The hotel bullied them into removing the review (threat of a lawsuit) even though the review was accurate and only had facts. TA did nothing to stand by to defend the reviewer. They took the easy way out and just removed the review at the request of the poster. This is all documented on the Help Us Make Trip Advisor Better forum.

As with anything, caveat emptor. TA is a tool and nothing more.
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