Should you trust online hotel reviews?
Imagine you’ve just decided to take a trip somewhere abroad (maybe to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic?), and one of the first things you do is go online to check which hotels have gotten good reviews.
There are countless of websites that serve this purpose and offer information and reviews for any hotel, anywhere in the world. But can you really trust that these reviews are correct? Should you trust them?
Perhaps you go to TripAdvisor, which is the world’s largest travel website where anyone with a profile (which is free to set up) can write a review of hotels, restaurants, tours, and so on.
According to TripAdvisor, they only give “…trusted advice from real travelers…”*, and in 2013 alone the website received more than 150 million reviews! That’s 410,958.90 reviews a day or 17,123.9 reviews an hour or 285.38 reviews every single minute…if my math isn’t off.
TripAdvisor has 1,939 employees**, however it’s hard to tell exactly how many of these are actually employed to read through all of these reviews and check that they’re honest and have been written by people who’ve actually been to the place being reviewed.
Online reviews, which can be found on e.g. TripAdvisor, are incredibly powerful and one negative review can potentially destroy the reputation of a business and subsequently drive the business…well, out of business. All it takes is one (or a few) bad review to do the irreparable damage and after that it may not matter that the same establishment has hundreds of glowing reviews. It’s always that one bad seed that ruins the crop!
In reality anyone can provide a review – anyone from honest travelers to dishonest employees of the hotel/restaurant/tour in question who feels mistreated and is purely looking for some kind of revenge. Taking this into consideration, the world of online reviews can become quite the minefield for businesses as well as consumers to navigate.
It’s probably also for the best to keep in mind that reviews are always subjective; i.e. one person can have a ball at a fabulous, luxurious hotel such as Tortuga Bay Hotel in Punta Cana while someone else can’t seem to stop complaining.
If you take a peek at how the hotels in Punta Cana rank on TripAdvisor, I find it odd that a hotel like Sanctuary Cap Cana is #17 – further down the list that...