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Who Shall We Trust In Terms of Hotel or Restaurant Reviews?


Last week when I was in New Orleans for the Special Event Show, a friend of mine suggested me to try a restaurant because it has a “five-star” rating. I checked the review myself. It is indeed a “five-star” restaurant, but this “five-star” rating comes from one single reviewer. I asked myself: How can I trust this review? I don’t even know that person who rated the restaurant.

In real life, people usually need to spend substantial amount of time and efforts to build “trust” among coworkers, teammates, and friends. Have Internet and social media changed our lives already? How would my friend trust a straighter without a thought?

According to a news article by Ed Perkins at Hotel-Online.com, there are two sources of hotel reviews. One category contains the reviews of professional travel writers and appeals more to travel agents because it costs $249 a year for subscription. The other category consists of reviews submitted by ordinary travelers and it is free. I checked out the free websites suggested by Perkins, here is what I found by searching hotels in Syracuse, NY:

1. http://www.nileguide.com/: It has expert’s picks, but it has limited properties in popular locations only, nothing in Syracuse.
2. http://www.tripadvisor.com/: It is one of the most popular websites (I use it myself sometimes). It listed reviews of 22 properties, but without expert’s picks. Some listed hotels have over 50 reviews.
3. http://www.hotelshark.com/: It contains very few pictures. Properties are listed by cities and states (limited locations). Syracuse is not listed.
4. http://www.igougo.com/: It has very few reviews. I found 4 properties in Syracuse from this website.
5. http://www.travelmuse.com/: It took me quite a while to find the Syracuse page (about 3 to 4 clicks). In the end, it listed 15 properties, without expert's picks.
6. http://www.travelpost.com/: It listed 24 properties. Some properties have more than 50 reviews.

Overall, it seems to me TripAdvisor and TravelPost are the most useful. I also read the reviews on http://www.expedia.com/, http://www.travelocity.com/, and http://www.kayak.com/ if I book a hotel from these websites. Using the “triangulation technique” in conducting qualitative research, I often compare the reviews from multiple websites before I decide which hotels I want to stay or which restaurant I want to eat. In addition, I will read about 10 comments and see how consistent these comments are.

Definitely, I will not trust the reviews written by one or two strangers. How about you? Has “trust” ever come across your mind when you read the reviews? How do you determine those reviews are trustworthy?

References:
Hotel Online: http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2010_1st/Jan10_TrustingReviews.html
Photo was copied from http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish/copy_of_images/handshake.jpg/view

Comments

  1. Trust ALWAYS comes to mind when I read reviews, yet ironically I depend on reviews heavily even after I hear a review from friends and family. When I hear good or bad things from friends about a restaurant or hotel I take into consideration their taste, that is, if they have any, their personality and evaluate their opinion based on how well I know them and whether or not they have given me good or bad advice on particular restaurants or hotels in the past.

    After-all, everyone has their own opinions, standards, and levels of satisfaction and I take into consideration what they say and compare it to the reviews I find online. Then online I look at what the reviewers say carefully when they give a restaurant or hotel good or bad mark because some could have loved the hotel room or food at the restaurant, but thought the service was awful and some could have had a bad personal experience while everyone else who reviewed the same hotel/restaurant didn't. Also I am aware that sometimes managers write great reviews for their own hotels/restaurants.

    I don't think I would try a hotel/restaurant solely based on one good review online, or one good review from a friend unless I "trusted" and agreed with their taste. Most of the times I will go to the restaurant myself ahead of time, to check out the menu in person to see how the hostess treats me when I say "I just want to take a look at the menu" and take a peak at the interior over-all atmosphere and of course, the busyness of the restaurant at a particular time of day is always a good indicator of a good restaurant, or a restaurant with REALLY GOOD marketing. Now I may not be able check out hotels in advance, but that is why hotels should ALWAYS have pictures, floor-plans, and a 3D walk-through if possible, or else that would lead me to think they are trying to hide something.

    L

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much for your insightful comment, Lorenz. I like your approach.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I dont always use one review to decide on my stay at a hotel resort or a restaurant. I like to first call the restaurant to find out what the atmosphere is like and how crowded it usually is. I then try to see if any of my friends i know have been to the hotel or restaurant and ask them for their opinion and if they think i would like to go there. My final step in this process is to go online and use online resources and websites to see many peoples reviews. Then i go to Expedia or hotels.com and see what the ratings are. For restaurants i generally go to Zagats online which i have joined as a member if all of the opinions and reviews seem up to my standards i will then go to the hotel or restaurant.

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