Trip Advisor - How much do you believe?

Aug 4th, 2005, 11:37 AM
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Trip Advisor - How much do you believe?

I have always checked out the lodging that I was interested in on Trip Advisor. But how accurate are they? Actually, it's not "Trip Advisor" - it's the people who send them the reviews.

I always find it interesting when a place gets consistently high marks and then someone gives them a *1* which does indeed bring down the average.

The reason for this question is that I'm trying to find a reasonable hotel in London in the Mayfair district. (Yes, and I do believe in Santa Claus too!)
For example, I love the website for the Flemings Mayfair - simple gorgeous and supposedly all redecorated. And then I checked it out on Trip Advisor. What a mixture of opinions!

So I wanted your opinions on this. What do you do with the info? Does it weigh heavily on your decision?

Brahmama is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 11:59 AM
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Tripadvisor posters come from a broad cross-section of society and carry their standards around with them. Some are more or less sophisticated. Some have unrealistic expectations. Some have very few expectations. And some (quite few I think) are fakes - either from the owner of a property or that of a competing one.

I think you need to do 3 things with tripadvisor reviews.

Look at the overall - not every single outlier (every place can have one bad day - or one completely unrealistic guest)

Examine the posting details for potential points of similarity/difference to yourself (do you care if the drapes are two years old? or the bath is a little small?)

Look carefully at where the posters are from (I have found frequently that tourists from some other places [esp Australia and Britain for some reason] seem satisfied with things I wouldn;t touch with a barge pole)

And naturally - check out as many other sources as possible.

As for the hotel in question - it has a fairly good location - but we stayed there once and were not happy. The room was about a foot longer than the bed - minute - and there was no place to put the luggage - and the bath was even smaller. We checked other rooms that seemed no better. So - I would ask for specifics on room measurements (not including the bath or the closet) and perhaps find out about a delux room or junior suite.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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It depends...If I see a review and the word "dirty" pops up, I want details...Like so many subjective terms, "dirty" means different things to different folks.HOW dirty?If there are 4 reviews, and 3 mention "dirty" then I move on to another hoteL.One of teh things I look for in a hotel is management responsiveness...If the only towels in the bathroom are dirty, how long did it take to get them replaced? If the commode doesnt work, how long did it take to get a technician up to the room? Or how long did it take to get me moved?A roommate recenly had a very stressful situation at a new motel in Colorado.It was all family gathered for a funeral.There was a little confusion.They all arrived at the hotel at the same time.They thought they had one too many rooms.The front desk manager assured them that if they didnt need the room they wouldnt be charged.He also assured them that the room would be there when they returned from visitation and dinner later that night.They got back at 10pm and they did in fact need the spare room.It had been given away.That created an uncomortable situation of doubling up.That wasnt the problem: they had been assured by management, and management failed to deliver.You wont cath me at that hotel! I dont care if the floors are clean enough for the Pope to eat his dinner off of!!
BeachBoi is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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I can only speak from my own experience but I use Trip Advisor for help on finding hotels, and I frequently post my reviews as well. I am always honest. If there is something that I did not like about the hotel, I will say it in my review. The reviews are obviously based on each person's experience, hence the reason why a hotel that consistently receives 5* may occassionaly receive a review of 1 to 2*. Each person has their own set of expectations, and what makes one person happy may not necessarily make the other happy. Likewise, I could have a wonderful experience at a hotel and somebody else could have a terrible experience. So while I always review the comments made about the hotels, I'll usually look for some sort of consistency. If a hotel has a ton of raves and only a few rants, I usually assume the hotel is fine and I'll book it.

tcreath is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:05 PM
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You have to try to read between the lines, and also compare the reviews to other sources.
For example, sometimes single or rare trashing of a hotel, has to do with one person's experience involving a problem that could happen anywhere once in a while: a lost reservation, an a/c unit that didn't work, a rude night clerk, a particular room that faces an air shaft.

On the other hand, if I see a mention of 'dirty' or 'shabby' or 'smelly' or
'the elevator stayed broken during our entire one-week stay', that's when I move on to another hotel listing.
elaine is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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I read for the overall impression and try to evaluate the real bad reviews. Is it from a cranky person with unrealistic expectations or are these negatives things that would repeat themselves? "Unfriendly front desk staff" is subjective. "Thin walls" or "street noise" I would more pay attention to.

That said, I have never used Trip Advisor for my own planning. But I have posted about favorite hotels after staying at them. My method is to pick hotels from personal recommendations from friends, by reading and posting here on Fodors, from a guidebook listing then researched further.

suze is online now  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:14 PM
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I have found it to be extremely helpful, and it hasn't steered me wrong yet. However, I agree with nytraveler. You need to read each review carefully and see why the specific rating was given. Simply looking at the overall rating doesn't give the whole picture. Different things are important to different people, and only you know what matters to you.
bobbysue is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:15 PM
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I'm pretty loyal to fodors, but I have to say that the hotel reviews at tripadvisor are much easier to access.
For one thing, THEIR search function works easily, quickly, and completely.

Second, the Rants and Raves section of Fodors is not well advertised, doesn't get many postings, and is redundant with postings that are here on the message board.
If only we could easily find hotel listings here on the message board!
elaine is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:18 PM
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I have booked hotel rooms and have been so scared due to reading reviews at Trip Advisor; however, one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in had some horrible reviews on there. I have noticed that lots of the reviewers are flat out picky. It's pathetic. You can usually determine how petty a reviewer is based on how they write, in addition to the specific little things they stress.

If over half are disappointed by a place, I wouldn't stay there. I say as much as half because that is how unreliable Trip Advisor has been for me. And I've used it a lot before staying in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Orlando.
rocklit is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:19 PM
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I use them and post to them all the time and I travel a lot for business. I find them to be a accurate sight and a big help.

Only every now and then a really beloved budget hotel slips into a top ranking.
richardab is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:41 PM
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I have found it interesting to look at the trip advisor hotel rankings for my hometown. It gives you a real idea of how rankings end up working, by looking at places that you are familiar with.

They (obviously) don't have any connection to standard star ranking, and that becomes quickly evident. The 1-3 spots can represent such a wide variety of places, including a luxury downtown hotel, a small boutique hotel in a trendy area, and a suburban, well managed Holiday Inn! The type of people reviewing these places, obviously have very different expectation, so their idea of "awesome", or "great hotel", are going to differ.

When I then look at the reviews for a place I am completely unfamilar with, I try to keep this in mind, and don't focus on the ranking, but instead use it as a place to find reviews of places that I have read about elsewhere - guidebooks, this forum, etc.
Aug 4th, 2005, 12:53 PM
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I aggree with everyone else. I think it's important to read the comments carefully. Many time their complaints may not even be relevant for your situation. FOr example, when I recently looked into hotels in San Juan, some negative reviews were based on poor wait service for drinks at the beach or pool. I don't order from the drinks while I'm at the beach so it didn't really matter to me. I also consider where the person is from. In general I think Europeans are more used to small hotel rooms than most Americans, so if someone from Europe complains that a room is small, it probably is very small.

One negative review out of several, I wouldn't be overly concerned about. But reviews with consistebt complaints, may carry more weight.
MFNYC is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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Also even if I "believe" a posting, it might not make a difference to me. About some of my favorite funky budget hotels people post and complain about a stain in the rug or a rip in the curtains. I already *know* that but it doesn't matter.
suze is online now  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:24 PM
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I, too, have used trip advisor BUT I think once you have a couple of options on hotels you should post on this site and see if you get feedback. Fodors is the best source for me. Also, remember that the same hotel can provide a good room/experience for one and the opposite for another. For example we almost did not go to Maroma resort in Mexico because of the negative comments on trip advisor but when we did go we were pleased. Good luck with a "reasonable" hotel in London.
mimipam is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:42 PM
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Thanks for the replies - and especially to NY Traveler for commenting on the hotel in question.
I have done a search on here for this hotel - but the latest comment was in June of 04. I also have checked it on Slow Trav and googled it all over the place.
I believe that the best answers come from "real" people who have stayed in a hotel - as opposed to newspaper articles, guide books, etc. But as most of you said, we are all very different in our expectations!

I do think that a 4 Star hotel (even in London) should be large enough for 2 people to walk round, have 2 chairs, room for luggage etc. We have stayed in 2 3 Stars that were on the small side, but I expected that.

I think what I really hate is to go to a website and see nicely appointed rooms - and then find out in person that these are not the rooms that you have. Seems like false advertising. I would think that the photos should be labeled as to what category they represent.

But when all is said and done - I would rather be disappointed in a room that cost $150 rather than one that costs $250!

Brahmama is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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The safest way to evaluate hotel room pictures is to assume that the very best rooms are shown, not the average ones and certainly not the least good.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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I find the reviews on TripAdvisor to be a fabulous resource. But, you do have to read all the individual reviews (sometimes hilarious, often full of neighborhood tips...)

The "average" is meaningless to me.
djkbooks is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 02:07 PM
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I always use Tripadvisor, and think its a great resource. I also try to post my hotel reviews on there because I do appreciate how much it has helped me.

I have actually never read a review on there that struck me as totally crazy or unbelievable; I have also never seen listings of the hotels I've searched where everything is 4-5 ranking and then a "1" review. I don't doubt that someone could post fake reviews, but I think if you read the content, it is easy to tell if they sound like the kind of things a real person and traveler would say or not.

I pretty much believe all of them, but as others said, I pay attention to what is important to me and the general consensus.

I told a friend of mine about Tripadvisor because she booked some 4* resort hotel in Mexico on hotwire and didn't know anything about it -- of course Hotwire and the hotel website made it sound like Nirvana. That resort had about 25 reviews, and they were extremely helpful. She thought some were too picky and she wouldn't care about such things. well, as it turned out, the hotel was kind of bad in a lot of categories and the reviews were pretty accurate.

What is the solution, anyway -- I actually like some guidebook reviews pretty well and trust them more than some "real people" reviews. I don't trust hardly any reviews that aren't very specific, and a lot of hotel reviews on this forum talk about how great a hotel is, but given the hotel ranking and cost, I just know I would not feel the same way about it (anytime the highest praise is, it's just a place to sleep and shower, for example), and want to know a lot more. I find Tripadvisor reviews more detailed and informative than any other forum I've seen because there are so many.

What's the alternative, if you prefer real people reviews, but don't want to trust anything on the internet.
Christina is online now  
Aug 4th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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Underhill, I think you pegged it just right with your comments. I think I knew that, but just wanted to believe that they were all like that!

Here is the URL if anyone's interested. This particular hotel reviews run the gamut and that makes it very interesting to me. The last 10 people rated it:

5 - 3 people
4 - 3 people
3 - 1 person
2 - 2 people
1 - 1 person
Brahmama is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 02:25 PM
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By "real people" I meant people like NY Traveler who is here on the board and posts regularly. That opinion means much more to me than a guide book, or that of Trip Advisor people - unless I happen to know them or have read their comments here or on Slow Talk.

I think what I do is to read everything I can find - and then make a decision. I have been burned by inaccurate guidebooks in the past. I still read them for information - such as "Mona Winks" but even that info is dated. (Pictures/sculptures are moved about - others are added).

I tend to depend 85 per cent on the internet - reference books imho are obsolete immediately. I think I read that they are 3 years old by the time they are published and in the hands of the public.
Brahmama is offline  

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