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So what do we think about TripAdvisor?

Old Mar 7th, 2009, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 21
I have seen your posts yiassas - keep up the good work
"now live here" - Now thats the magic word - You can actually inform people what color the sky is at at any given moment. Thats the difference.

Can you be sure that everyone else is the same?
Pakanfou is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 574
As I said, anyone with a hidden agenda generally gets spotted & 'outed'. You will see the same replies over & over, mainly because it's the same questions!
The variation on which hotels are recommended generally depends on budget, if that info is given.
I don't know all of Greece (I'm working on it!), but I feel confident that the majority of contributors (including DE's) are genuine, with a huge combined knowledge & love of Greece.
I can't speak for the other forums as I rarely visit them.
yiassas is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,928
I heartily second what yiassas says, Pakanfou! TA's regular contributors, including the DE's, are either Greece residents or longtime travelers to Greece with extensive experience (I have made 7 month-long trips in the past 9 years, visited more than 20 islands & mainland sites, many of them multiple times). And I know of NO ONE among them who has some hidden agenda or hidden arrangement with agencies or hotels.

You MAY notice that 2 or 3 agencies in Athens are mentioned repeatedly. That is simply because they have shown themselves to be very helpful in working with English-speaking travelers from overseas. Nobody among TA "regulars" gets a penny from them or anything else! The same with hotels. If you see some Athens hotels recommended often, for example, it's in response to specific requests, i.e., for a luxury hotel, or for a budget hotel close to Syntagma.

The same applies to Santorini -- people often specifically want a luxury Oia hotel, or one with a caldera or sunset view. There are only a set number of accommodations that qualify, and one TA expert in particular has devoted himself to checking these out in person... he does not get paid, it's just an intense interest of his.

No "hidden agenda" people would have the patience that DE's on TA have-- answering the same questions over and over from people who have done no research themselves: "How do I get from Santorini to Mykonos?" etc. Any Hidden-Agenda people are usually posters who suddenly pop up, deliver a rave review of a hotel and then disappear.

If you are making these accusations, use your real name, not a screen name, and be specific about what you allege and offer proof. Otherwise, go back and sit down. You're insulting a lot of people who devote time and effort to helping others.

Rant over.
travelerjan is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 07:59 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,226
I too, am a DE on TA, and believe me, I wish I got paid something. People do ask the same thing over and over and over again. Having lived in Germany a really long time, it feels good to be able to pass on knowledge that will help people enjoy their vacations. On TA and some other travel sites one is usually appreciated, though I have to say, here on Fodors, it does feel rather cliquish and I ask myself how long does one have to post here to be "accepted"? There have been a couple of times where I have questioned whether or not I should post here any more since the atmosphere is somewhat unfriendly. Getting slammed by another poster just because you say something nice about a city or a tour is not my idea of being helpful to anyone. What is up with that??

I think it is a good thing to have destination experts on TA for all these cities. It is great to be able to ask someone what a hotel really looks like instead of having to rely on photos. Being able to ask where stores are or assisting people with allergies, you name it, the DE can often help with that, in ways that others can't.

All the travel websites have something good to offer, along with having some negative sides. Travelers can pick up tips from all of them.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,740
Pakanfou, I usually mention the same hotels over and over again. In the past I have been accused of taking money or services from hotels on Santorini in exchange for promoting them. It makes me wonder if "your friends" are referring to me. Or am I just being paranoid? I do make these same basic recommendations for the same hotels a lot of the time, not because anyone is paying me, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT, but because most people ask the same questions and want the same things when they come to Santorini and the hotels I recommend the most offer them. I have taken the time to get to know the hotels that I recommend-the pricing, the quality, amenities and the location, so when someone asks I can answer with the most appropriate and accurate information. If I do not have information about a certain hotel I try to get it before I mention it. If someone asks for a "cheap" hotel in a certain village I try to help if I know the name of one. I always try to offer more than one suggestion so they can make the best choice for themselves. If I don't I just go online to look for myself and pass on what I discover if I think it will help. If someone else who has information about a hotel I'm not familiar with wants to contribute that information, nothing is stopping them. And if I make a mistake, which I sometimes do, I hope someone with more knowledge will tell me the correct information so I don't make it again.

I think the fact that I answer so many questions over and over again might lead you or someone else to believe that I am working for a travel agency, but the simple fact is that I love Santorini and I truly enjoy helping people make their plans to visit and I want them to have the best experience for the money that is possible. Because I do not work any more I have a lot of free time to do this. There is no other hidden reason. There are many contributors who feel the same way as me.

As for the letter you say your friends sent you, why did they send it to you and what is keeping you from publishing it now? If you have information that someone is not telling the truth or is using the forums for false advertising we all want to know. If you have examples of these false postings we want to see them. Show us. If you don't have any information that confirms this how do you think you will get it? Maybe we can help you, if what you really want is to find the truth. Is it possible that you really don't have a letter but that you are just expressing your own personal suspicions about me or someone else? Anyone can register on a travel forum and participate. You have only been a member here since January, and in that time you have contributed many times to suggest that people stay in Imerovigli. Does this suggest that someone in Imerovigli is paying you to promote their village and the hotels there? Someone might think so, but is it true? Maybe I have a letter from some friends who think you work for the Mayor of Imerovigli and are going to investigate you for this. Ridiculous? Yes, of course it is. If you really have a letter let us read it.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,859
I love TA. I have found some really nice places to stay through them that we have been very happy with. But to warrant further investigation the accomodation must have a high percentage of excellent reviews. And I do agree you have to read through the lines. What one person considers "quaint and charming" another considers "old and in need of a re-do"

I also don't stop with TA. Anyplace we stay, B&B, Hotel, Inn, Self Catering Cottage must have a website with LOTS of pictures ~ and I mean pictures of the rooms and exterior, not pictures of champagne glasses, toiletries and towels, or their dog. They must be prompt and friendly in answering my questions on emails (sometimes many!)

And I always check then with the Fodors boards to see if they have been mentioned here. I also put in the name of the place on Google and check both Google web and Google images. Also Google Satellite images are helpful if you plug in the address. It's amazing how a place that looks like it's in the middle of nowhere on their website may actually have a road running right in front of it!
wrenwood is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 08:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 66,883
Alice9: You did tag "Greece" -- see it right there under your screen name to the top of the thread. (BTW - there is no "Greece forum - but you can tag a country to make it easier for folks to find threads about a particular country.)

But - nothing in your OP mentioned Greece, so it did sound more like just a question about TA in general.
janisj is online now  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 21
There are almost 300 hotels in Santorini that overlook the caldera
I have seen no more than 25-30 being mentioned.

There are over 30 travel agencies in Santorini
I have seen no more than 5 -6 mentioned.

There are 20 - 30 boat companies that offer excursions
i have not seen more than 5 mentioned.

Over 75 Rent a car companies
A very few mentioned.

There are a few hundred tour companies in Athens that deal
with Santorini with high quality service.
Only 2-3 are mentioned.

There are posts that condemn excellent hotels even when the traveler wants them.

I have being a travel agent for over 32 years and i can very easy spot out certain things. I have traveled over 25 of these years all over Europe as a manager of long lost Magic Bus and i can tell you travelerjan that i can only know some things - not everything. My posts are only about the things i have personally
experienced not what i heard.The emall i referred to was send to me by a group of people that cannot have access or spend all there time watching whats on the forms.
If someone wants help about anything i believe that only people
that have used the actual service are capable in giving the proper information or people that live there and know first hand.
I also believe that if someone can sit in front of a PC 24 hours a day 7 days week 365 a year answering questions should get a life
Pakanfou is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,981
Very strongly worded contributions by posters who are recently registered and have few total posts in general should always be weighed with measured believability. Trip Adviser has had problems with planted reviews but this is true on any forum. I have however grown suspect of many of the subtle format changes on TA since their being acquired by Expedia. For example the direct links to B&Bs have been removed, promotional pop ups now enhance the TA online experience, and pages have become cluttered with links to their many services. Still, TA remains a good source for travel information, particularly when used in conjunction with other websites and travel literature which allows one to formulate a very comprehensive and well-thought out vacation itinerary.
Sarastro is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 21
I am not condemning TA i think its a great forum But it should be open to real people that have lived an experience - They and only they can really advise other people.
Pakanfou is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 09:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 638
First of all, I don't know what a DE is on TA - maybe destination expert?

Secondly, I think it's wonderful that people who have expertise in an area are willing to share it (and spend considerable time) for no monetary remuneration. Speaking just for myself, I would be willing to pay (something) for the information I get from both this forum and TA, if that money was used to reward frequent contributors.

And in the past, I have seen obvious travel agents or particular hotels chastised on one or another of the Europe forums. I haven't seen that on TA, I don't think.

I'm not an expert. I can only share my own experiences when I return from a trip. I really should make a point to occasionally go back to the forums for places I have visited to see if I can be of help. I do a little of that, but not very much.

And I've found the Greece part of the Europe forum to be much more tightly focused than some of the other countries, I'm not sure why that is. I wonder if more people see Greece with a tour group or via a cruise, because it's a little harder to plan (all those islands). In comparison, the Italy section has TONS of posts covering every topic imaginable, from fashion tips to what to tip a gondolier.

Alice9 is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 21
Sorry i missed your post BLL

Heres the letter

Thank you ...... for your reply

Our concern is that this great by all means forum has being infiltrated by your Affiliates.

Some are very good and offer great and balanced information but others direct people to certain hotels travel agents and tours. If lets say If... i arrange with someone to promote my business here on the island and give him/her some commission for the clients send to me HOW would you be able to check on that? Some of your Affiliates post on 5 or 6 different forums picking out and replying only to people that ask certain questions and most of the time in all forums reply the same solutions. What do this people do for a living ? How do they pay there bills ? Please read my previous email carefully and you will understand the problem

Thanks in advance
- Show quoted text -
Pakanfou is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2009, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 21
Alice9 Yes it is wonderful that people spend there time helping other travelers.
I do not agee with you that you should pay for any info that is posted - forums should be free to exchange info with other people.
It would be a real shame if everyting in this world should be payed for - especially on the net.
And yes pls post your knowledge when you r/t.
That whats ist all about.
Human nature makes us think of the next place to visit and never return to help others. - Its great when people spend a bit of time giving the latest info when returning from there trip
Pakanfou is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 628
"All the travel websites have something good to offer, along with having some negative sides. Travelers can pick up tips from all of them."

And that's the truth. No site is perfect.

"(Fodor's) forums generate their own myths...Finally, it appears as if...Albergo de Senate was Rome's best hotel (Rome has several hundred hotels, but here in these forums not more than a handful are mentioned)"

Rome may have several hundred hotels but Rome only has one Piazza della Rotunda. As with most travel destinations, conventional wisdom insists that LOCATION IS EVERYTHING, and Albergo del Senato Rome (correct spelling) does not disappoint. Sure, most of their rooms are just as tiny as all the other hotels in Rome but, the moment you step outdoors, good luck duplicating that feeling anywhere else in Rome. At least the interior decoration suggests a "happy" color palate and upscale, cozy softness. Hundreds of hotels in Rome don't. Reality is what it is and best is relative. I see no myth.

"Maybe Fodorites tend to be more middle-middle class?"

Criticize Filene's Basement and you'll see just how middle-class the place really is.

Coach class travelers constitute the largest traveling population. And many of them love to travel and wish they could travel more often and in more luxurious style. Travel boards give these people a chance to dream and to help others with their dreams. It's all good.

"I do prefer Tripadvisor. The posters are less clickish. There really is no bickering or primadonnas on the forum."

Any popular social gathering place will have cliques no matter who is in denial. That's human nature. And you know what they say about misery loving company: there's an element of that, too. But once you learn your way around, it's fairly easy to sift through the soap opera-style insecurities and find what you're looking for.

Primadonnas tend to be very opinionated. I enjoy strong opinions, especially from a poster who appreciates the finer details. Ordinary travelers with ordinary tastes and expectations don't interest me much unless they are great navigators and can recommend a fab map or the most scenic road. Travel snobs are my favorite kind of people.

"here on Fodors, it does feel rather cliquish and I ask myself how long does one have to post here to be "accepted"?"

Oh honey. Some have been here forever and they'll never be accepted.

If 100% acceptance is your goal and you're the type who "needs" to be liked, then I would suggest that internet forums are not for you. The best way to approach this form of entertaining service is to simply look at the good you do by offering at least one experience that will help someone else with their travel planning. Giving is far more enjoyable than receiving and it's never a bad thing if people don't like you or your opinion. How you deal with such people says a lot about your character, your convictions and how you deal with the jerks of the world. Let's face it, they're everywhere.

"Very strongly worded contributions by posters who are recently registered and have few total posts in general should always be weighed with measured believability."

A username is a powerful credibility tool. Obviously, the longer the name is around offering sound advice, the more reliable that advice is likely to be.

A username's personality can paint a picture that reaches far beyond the words. Some people will enjoy the picture and cling to it, others won't. As long as one person enjoys what you bring to the table, IMO, you succeed. It's a good thing.
NYCTS is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 07:07 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 338
Thanks to Trip Advisor I was able to find a damned cheap room in Knightsbridge that a majority of visitors recommended highly. Of a couple hundred reviewers maybe 10% hated it, but most reviewers seemed to really enjoy it. I find that most of the haters for a given hotel have a bad experience at check-in and then seem to have a vendetta against the property. Some of the complaints are ridiculous. If I read complaints about cleanliness or seedy neighborhoods, I do take heed.

On the other hand, there is indeed a risk that some unscrupulous hotel manager might over-hype his establishment. I think if you use Trip Advisor as a tool along with other booking vehicles such as Expedia, Priceline and/or HRS which also feature customer reviews, you can get a fair idea of what the place will be like. For big cities like London and Paris these reviews can save a trip. When I'm traveling in Germany, Austria or Switzerland (my favorite places) I don't feel a need to check reviews. I've never stayed in a dump in 30 years of visiting this part of Europe.
Otzi is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 09:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 358
I like TripAdvisor. When it comes to traveller's ratings, I take many with a grain of salt. Some people will complain about every little thing or maybe just had one of those trips where everything that could go wrong did. However, I do pay attention if most or all ratings are bad or if most ratings are good. I mean if you have ten people and nine of them all say it was bad, then it is likely that it's not a good place to go and I would avoid it. Also, the posters on TripAdvisor don't snipe nearly as much at someone's nation or at someone they disagree with like some do here on Fodor's. I mean I really don't care to here some european, ususally some Brit making their rude, sarcastic little anti-american snipes.
corli33 is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Posts: 2,755
Great post, NYCTS.
pdx is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 01:57 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,351
You said: "Reality is what it is and best is relative."

Both "reality" and "best" are subjective. We don't all live in your world (and you are thanking your lucky stars for that, no doubt).

And: "Primadonnas tend to be very opinionated. I enjoy strong opinions, especially from a poster who appreciates the finer details. Ordinary travelers with ordinary tastes and expectations don't interest me much unless they are great navigators and can recommend a fab map or the most scenic road. Travel snobs are my favorite kind of people."

So, you see yourself as a primadonna (certainly "unordinary" and definitely "interesting") travel snob. We can at least agree on the bookends of that description.

Here's hoping us peons can dig you up some "fab" directions!
Aramis is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,308
I use TA regularly, and like so many of the above, I read the reviews for details rather than the ratings for things that are important to me (My Wants: location and cleanliness; can take a small bedroom and small bed but love to be able to turn around in the shower). However, I still think the site full of shills. Luckily, as several have said, those are easy to pick out, and it's equally easy to cross reference with lots of other websites.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2009, 03:55 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,669
I think all this advice can be distilled into "Do not rely on just one source of information". I read guide books, check here (obsessively ), check TA, and other websites, and then go with my gut. An example - we went to the Windsor Hotel in Cairo - the worst beds I've ever slept in, and it definitely was run down. But, its character and history ("Built at the turn of the last century as the baths of the Egyptian royal family, the Windsor served for many years as a colonial British officers club before being purchased by a Swiss hotelier as an annex of the legendary Shepherds Hotel and converted into the 'Hotel Windsor-Maison Suisse.' Today, the Windsor's guestrooms retain an ambiance of faded grandeur and the hotel's famous Barrel Bar remains a popular Cairo rendezvous. More recently, the Hotel has been featured in a number of Egyptian and Hollywood films") were amazing, and those and the incredibly charming and friendly staff made it great. I would go again.
Momliz is offline  

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