By Guy Hunter-Watts
WHILE recognising its place in the hotel world, I always approach TripAdvisor with a fair degree of caution.
It is surprising how often, reading through the reviews, you come across repeated words and phrases or a remarkably similar style of writing: the temptation is clearly huge for the more unscrupulous hoteliers to pump up their ratings with their own reviews or to ask friends to do the same.
And also you need to bear in mind that some of the more pushy hotel owners and managers will single out the customers who have had a good time and encourage them to post a review.
But how many would ask a dissatisfied customer to do the same?
All this, of course, means that TripAdvisor’s top ratings in any particular town do not necessarily lead you to its better hotels.
Then, of course, there is that strange little band of reviewers who take huge pleasure in taking out the scalpel and homing in on everything that is negative while failing to mention a hotel’s good points.
It is a kind of online power trip for these people who know that their reviews really do make a difference to the number of bookings that are made. How exciting to give an abysmal rating to a place because something about it was not quite right!
This is why I deeply believe that there is still very much a place in the online market for individually selected portfolios like my own or that of Alastair Sawday, i-escape or Mr and Mrs Smith, as well as local restaurant websites like Dining Secrets of Andalucia.
Ultimately ‘more’ can really mean ‘less’ when it comes to online guest reviews of the TripAdvisor kind.
Guy Hunter-Watts, who works as an inspector for i-escape and Sawdays as well as his own guidebooks, will be moving all his selections online this autumn. They can be found at www.guyhunterwatts.com in two sections; ‘Gran Reserva’ and ‘Solera’.
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