Let’s face it. Internet is full of opinionated folks. Heck, I’m one of them! How do you know who you can trust? When it comes to hotels, my go-to source is definitely TripAdvisor. For the most part, I’ve been fortunate when following recommendations of my fellow travelers and was happy to get heads up on any potential issues.
But as is the case with most things on the Internet, you have to be careful. I encourage you to look for total number of reviews as well as overall rating. And even then, you may be steered in the wrong direction as was the case with Nancy recently.
Here are few things to watch out for:
1) Glowing review of a property from a user who has never reviewed anything before, and one that mentions a specific employee by name.
Many hotels give out bonuses to employees if they are mentioned by name on TripAdvisor. When you see that type of a review, chances are, it was left by that person or their friend. Not always, of course, some employees really do go above and beyond.
But when you see something like this : “An amazing hotel! Room was divine and food was fabulous. But the best part about the property was bartender Mark. He is the best! I sure hope the hotel management treats him right…,” and on and on about the employee, it screams FAKE. Honestly, I’m always amazed how easy it is to spot it, these guys really need to get more creative. Speaking of..
2) Watch out for a five star review mentioning details most normal people don’t really care about.
Chances are, it’s planted by the property manager. You will usually see those type of reviews when the hotel is brand new. They want to create buzz, and positive TripAdvisor rating is the easiest and cheapest way to achieve that goal. It’s impossible to prove, of course, but when something reads like an advertisement, chances are, it is just that, an advertisement.
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and you know the rest. Most people who are not OCD will not mention the brand of bathroom cabinets as well as materials used during construction of the hotel. Just saying.
3) Know what type of traveler you are and look for those who have a similar taste.
When you see glowing reviews for Days Inn property, chances are, folks are just super happy that they didn’t find roaches and that the bedding didn’t have blood stains on it. Ok, I’m exaggerating, obviously. Plenty of budget type properties are perfectly comfortable and clean.
But there is no denying the fact that you are more likely to find bed bugs in Super 8 that you would in a Grand Hyatt. So, have reasonable expectations. If a US property costs $70 per night all-in, you are just getting a place to sleep. Don’t be shocked if the mattress is lumpy and the sheets are not 800 thread count.
4) Pay more attention to the newest reviews than the overall rating.
Nancy has mentioned in her post that even though the Country Inn and Suites property had 4.5 star rating, recent reviews were mixed. That’s a red flag. The hotel has probably seen better days and is going downhill.
5) Watch out for reviews left by unreasonable/crazy guests.
Here is a review for Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek that I came across recently, written by a male guest:
Hmm, that doesn’t sound right. I’m talking about all the caps and exclamation points, of course. I do have a few questions for this guest. Why was he not wearing PANTS when the room service employee knocked on the door? A simple “just a minute, I need to put on some clothes” would do. Also, why did he wait 45 seconds to protest the fact that the employee was ogling his… you know? Lastly, demanding a refund for the whole stay is a bit rich, no? You already got the salad and cookie for free. Free!
But seriously, this guy clearly has mental issues. I’d like to see the rebuttal from the employee published on TripAdvisor (get your popcorn ready!) To be honest, if I were delivering food to the room and a guest (male or female) opened the door in their underwear, it would make me extremely uncomfortable. I would probably be smiling just to hide how nervous I am.
My point is, the guest gave the hotel one star review, which brought down the overall rating of the property. TripAdvisor is full of crazy rants and complaints about insane demands not being met by hotel management. It’s a Wild West. You may have to sift through some garbage in order to get an overall picture on a specific property. Still, it’s better to have some (however imperfect) point of reference than none at all.
Internet is full of fakes and crazy people. That goes for TripAdvisor reviewers as well as bloggers. While I’m not encouraging you to become paranoid, you do have to take everything you read online with a grain of salt. And yes, that goes for my blog too. It always makes me happy when readers reach out and say that they feel like they can trust me. Fear not, I’m definitely 100% transparent with you guys. Or am I? 🙂
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.