Do Not Trust All Free Review Sites
Do Not Trust All Free Review Sites
Some of the biggest hassles of setting up that big trip you have been planning is finding a good hotel, airline, and other such amenities. Perhaps most people would simply go online, find a free travel review site, see the amazing five stars of "such and such" hotel, book their flight, and get ready for an amazing stay. However, how often does the stay actually turn out amazing?
Free travel review sites have been scrutinized by the media and by the public for the false and fake reviews that they list. The sites are used as marketing ploys, having the hotels and travel companies pay others (for as little as five dollars) to post a false review, giving raving recommendations for the service or stay. Friends and family members of the hotels owner also post falsified positive reviews in order to make the business seem like a marvelous place to stay.
It also works the opposite way. The travel game is a serious business, and every one is a competitor. Bigger businesses find it easy to pay people to put false negative reviews on other businesses, leaving a hefty irreversible mark. So how does this occur? Sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, TravBuddy, Adventure Travel Co., and others all offer free reviews and do not require any proof that someone stayed at a particular hotel or used a particular service. Real names are also not required. What this basically means is that anyone with Internet access can post as many reviews as they please, using different user names and passwords.
These pseudo-reviewers are paid anywhere from small amounts to hefty amounts of money to do these deeds. Multimillion dollar businesses pay these sums for a good reason. More than half of the people who travel use traveling sites to find reviews. This adds up to big money for the hotels and travel service companies.
How big of an impact does the knowledge of this have on hotels themselves? One hotel, which was rated as the “Dirtiest Hotel in America” by TripAdvisor sued the company for $10 million dollars stating that the easily corruptible review system and lack of proof of the claim proved the review was a false accusation (travel.usatoday.com). Keep in mind that TripAdvisor is one of the most viewed review sites on the web, so a title such as “Dirtiest Hotel in America” leaves the hotel in a disastrous situation, both reputation-wise and financially.
In today’s world, a positive or negative review is simply a click away. No proof of the customer actually being a customer. No way to legitimately check the claims. No requirement to use the person’s real name. Free review sites are a place of deceit and fraud. It is very difficult for anyone to distinguish the difference between a legitimate review and a fake one. So how does one save themselves from this hassle?
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is not an exemption when it comes to review sites. To get the most honest reviews, ask a personal friend or family members about certain hotels or travel services. One can also get real reviews out of travel guides such as Michelin Red Guides, Lonely Planet, Eyewitness Travel Guides, Fodor’s, and DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, all of which offer genuine travel reviews without any monetary gain directly from the hotels or services.
Reading guides or getting advice from a personal friend or family member makes for a genuine travel experience. Do not get conned by free travel review sites which offer false promises. Remember, the trip that you plan to take is meant to be filled with adventure and discovery, not by unwelcome surprises.
Reliable Review Sites:
Fodor’s (Not the member review section) (fodors.com)
Travel Channel (travelchannel.com)
Lonely Planet (lonelyplanet.com)
Rough Guides (roughguides.com)
Bly, Laura. "Does TripAdvisor Play Dirty with Hotel Reviews?" USATODAY.COM. USA Today, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. http://travel.usatoday.com/destinations/dispatches/post/2011/10/does-tripadvisor-play-dirty-with-hotel-reviews/557148/1.
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