Trip Advisor restaurant rankings and reviews

Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Trip Advisor restaurant rankings and reviews

The thread on new Trip Advisor policies prompted me to look at some restaurant reviews for my city. I occasionally read their forums, occasionally look at hotel reviews, but had never looked at restaurant reviews, and what I saw for San Antonio left me shaking my head, much the same way I do over hotel reviews. Gosh...buyer beware!

First the listing by popularity rank. HOW do they come up with these? I read how they supposedly do, (from their website, "TripAdvisor's restaurant popularity ranks restaurants in San Antonio based on evaluations in guidebooks, articles and user opinions.") but going by what I know of the city and what I see on TA, even, I can't fathom the methodology in their rankings--certainly it is not as stated. Is this just purchase power I have to wonder>?

Ranked #1 in popularity in San Antonio is Antlers. It has no user reviews and only two guidebook mentions. Now I've eaten there (it's one of Hyatt Hill Country's restaurants) and it is good, but there is absolutely no way by any measurement imaginable, it can be #1 in popularity in San Antonio.

#2 is Anaqua. It has mention in 4 guidebooks and one comment in Citysearch, no Trip Advisor user reviews. (Those numbers alone should put it ahead of Antlers!) I haven't heard about it, never have heard it mentioned as a place to eat and we are always on the lookout for new and different downtown. I don't ever see it recommended on TA's forums, where restaurant requests are answered, generally, by a handful of locals.

#3 is Morton's of Chicago. ! 3 guidebooks mention, 2 user reviews, 2 web comments. It at least had two TA reviews, but hardly is the 3rd most popular restaurant in San Antonio.

Boudros, which is certainly one of the most popular restaurants in town, deservedly or not, is ranked 57 in popularity. It has mention in 6 guidebooks, 13 user reviews, 5 web comments.

So how is it again we arrive at popularity rankings Trip Advisor?

And as with hotels, reviewers who do review are at times absolutely, stunningly clueless. I read a review for what is probably the best restaurant in town, Le Reve. This is too funny. One person writing a review on Trip Advisor titles his review, "Not All Seats Are Equal". Looking at that I thought he'd gotten a bad table although he'd given it 4 out of 5 "stars". No. He went on to review Le Reve, but not a restaurant, he reviewed the Cirque du Soleil show, and even at that, Le Reve the Cirque show has never been in San Antonio.

Another person who could never get in because she had a party of 6 gave it two bad reviews, both because they wouldn't or couldn't accommodate a party of that size at that time. I guess she thought she didn't get her point across the first time she posted it so posted again, same comments and obviously the same person with an ax to grind.

Repeat. Buyer Beware! Out of curiosity, look at your own city's restaurant popularity ranking and see what you find. I checked Tampa, our last city and found the restaurant in my husband's former hotel there listed as #1. It is a great restaurant, but the #1 position is arguable. Bern's, which would be a serious contender for that slot is #7.

So...is it money? I have no idea. I know it isn't as stated above. Am really curious to see what others find.

If you are interested in unbiased reviews on TA, I'd pay far more attention to the locals on the forums than any reviews you'll read in the restaurant section.



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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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That is an excellent analysis, OO. I have been similarly baffled by their rating system. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:22 AM
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Just looked at my own hometown and you are absolutely right. The popularity rankings are insane.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:30 AM
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The most popular restaurant in Manhattan is Sugiyama?
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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As I expressed in the other thread about TA, I use their forum that is the same style and workings as this one, and have found it useful and accurate. I have never even looked in their restaurant review section... guess I'll just keep it that way!
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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The Forums at Trip Advisor are the only part that has any value. I don't trust the ratings or reviews at all.

Keith
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 08:05 AM
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I also never use the restaurant recommendations at TA, but just to test, I looked up the top ranked restaurants in my area.

Hermosa Beach - The #1 is no longer in business.
Redondo Beach- The #1 used to be our favorite local Italian, but has gone downhill of late. Last review was March'06, just before the decline.
Manhattan Beach - The #1 is a pancake house open for breakfast only.
Torrance - The #1 has exactly one review. How can that happen?

Thanks for the head's up OO. I will continue to ignore those reviews.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 08:09 AM
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As numerous articles have surmised, including a recent one in the NY Times, TripAdvisor seems to be populated with a bunch of professional whiners, so I read the reviews with a grain of salt.

Some people like to complain, find fault in everything, are generally miserable -- and they gravitate to TripAdvisor.

I'm not saying it doesn't have its place, but keep that sad truth in mind when you visit TA.

(Also, it's human nature to report negative experiences but not positive or neutral experiences.)
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 08:18 AM
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Gekko- You might want to look at the FORUM at Trip Advisor. I think they are incredible, for asking questions about specific places. They seem a well-kept secret for some reason. When people think TA, they think only of that bogus hotel and restaurant review feature.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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OO,

Great points. I am also puzzled about those rankings. In my town a Hot Dog place ranks #2. It is smaller than a strip mall Subway sandwich shop but that is the caliber of dining that is being ranked. In addition some ranked restaurants were located in a nearby town and are closed anyway and one place is a regional park in a city nearby. Iíve tried to point this out but so far the changes havenít been made.

I do have a problem with the forums too. Some posters find the oddest things to complain about but at least there is a chance to have a conversation. One person is urging visitors to avoid a restaurant because on a $72 lunch bill they charged her (with her prior approval) for extra lettuce and tomato on a burger. I want to know how the rest of the lunch was.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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I mentally throw out all the Forum posts promoting or complaining about a business by people that have only made one post. It is easy, since their number of posts is next to their name.

Keith
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Just for the heck of it, I searched Louisville KY. The top three places were pizza joints! Not even good ones at that.Number 4 was a place where the chef has been invited to a cook off with the Iron Chef and it has 5 AAA diamonds. Go figure! I like TA and do lots of reviews, but they seriously need to revamp the restaurant part. I see many which have been closed for years on there, and there's no way to keep the lists current, I guess.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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I don't mind a review that says the reviewer hates the place because they charged her for extra lettuce or couldn't seat her party of 6 on a busy night. If the review gives enough detail, the reader can decide whether or not the thing complained of is important or not. (I personally would be more concerned about a restaurant that had plenty of room to seat a large party on a Saturday night.)I just don't like ones that say a place is terrible or fantastic without saying why.

I've never looked at the restaurant reviews, and pay only a tiny bit of attention to the popularity ranking on hotels. The thing about hotels is that a lot of reviews - good and bad - reflect whether the reviewer thinks he or she got a good VALUE. Some of the hotels that are ranked very highly are one or two stars which are a good value for the money paid. A very very expensive hotel might have a much lower popularity ranking because, for example, they don't have an on-site restaurant or a concierge desk. Of course, if you compared the two, the expensive one would be much nicer than the one star.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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Okay, I've just looked up my town. I've never been to the restaurant that is ranked #1, and I don't know anyone who has. It's one of those strip mall locations that is always changing hands...LOL! Maybe I'll have to try it.

I did look up Dallas. I don't know that I'd rank the restaurants in exactly the same way, but the top 20 is a pretty darned good list.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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What I think works on the forums is specific information about a city.

For instance yesterday I was able to tell someone that the new hotel they asked about is actually in an industrial/commercial area surrounded by car dealerships, not in the downtown core. The hotel is not even open yet, so there are no reviews.

Also things don't get as nasty there because the editors are very aggressive about pulling posts.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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Portland OR ratings are way out of whack, too. Gourmet Magazine recently ranked one of our restaurants as the 28th best in the COUNTRY. On TA, it's ranked 10th in the city. That actually might be right, except that most of the 9 ahead of it don't belong in the city's top 25.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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TA has that helpful link called ďReport Inappropriate PostĒ. This helps a lot with out of control discussion that may have gotten, um shall we say ugly. It also gives you the chance to pull you own post in case you donít want to be associated with a negative thread or if you get riled up and then have a change of heart. Guess that would have been good here recently.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 12:56 PM
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The only Forum thread that I have seen the editors pull, was very negative, and very accurate.

Keith
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Old Oct 6th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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I just looked at popularity rankings for hotels and found very similar results as restaurant rankings. The #1 most popular hotel in Tampa, according to TripAdvisor, is the Holiday Inn Express at I-75 and Bruce B Downs...so far out of town (21 miles northeast of downtown) as to be convenient to virtually nothing except perhaps USF or USAA. It is out in the middle of nowhere.

San Antonio's rankings were slightly better, although #2 is a hotel downtown I've never even heard of, and #1 is geared to the budget traveler.

In Savannah, the #1 hotel in popularity is a Hampton Inn located at I-95 S Gateway. It is 15 miles out of town and a 2 star hotel! Is that what TA is about?? They lose all credibility when you see this.

Again, buyer beware...use the forums if you want a better sense of what's good and what's not.
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Old Oct 6th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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I am not even going to look at the San Francisco ranks. Afraid, if a poster finds food ***yummy*** it gets up in ranks.
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