Travel Reviews – How & Why to Trust Them

The notion that all user-based travel reviews are untrustworthy is not a new one. Look at any of the big names, Tripadvisor.com, Rankers.co.nz or Tripreport.com – what questions have they all faced?

How can you stop the travel companies reviewing themselves?
How can you prevent competitors posting bad reviews about travel companies?
How do you know if the reviewer has even had contact with the travel companies?
How do you know it’s not just an automated post?

The truth is that, without breaking privacy laws, it is very difficult to answer these questions with any certainty. This article aims to give a few tactics to help the everyday traveller brush these concerns aside and see the real benefit to travel reviews:

1. Strength in numbers – read 100 reviews from 100 different people all saying that a place is bad and, in all honesty, it’s not likely to be great. Equally, reading one review saying that a place is perfect will not necessarily be the whole truth. Use the strength in numbers rule and if you are ever skeptical consult point 3 on this list, Review Content.

2. Reviewer History – some review sites, like TripAdvisor, allow you to see the reviewing history of the reviewer in question. From that, you can often spot trends. Whether it be a string of bad reviews for hotels in one city, with one exceptionally good one that stands out or if only very good reviews are posted, there are trends to be spotted and reviewers to be wary of.

3. Review Content – there are a few things to look out for when considering other travellers’ reviews. Firstly, is it actually about the hotels, tours or companies in question or is it a generic piece of text that could be pasted over and over for different hotels, tours or companies? Secondly, is the review full of directions to the hotel, email addresses for the adventure travel provider or a phone number for the travel agent? Commonly reviews posted by the company being reviewed contain helpful hints as to how a potential customer might reach them, by location, email or telephone. If you’re unsure about the review, copy some of the body text into Google and see what comes up, 10 sites with the same text usually means that you’ve got a spammer. Finally, take a broad look at the reviews on the site – if they are all favourable, and not ever negative, then it is likely you’ve found a site where the publisher is being paid to write good reviews.

4. Topic – review sites exist because of choice. More hotels, electronic goods or insurance providers than the world really needs and millions of consumers needing to know which is best for them. Legitimate reviews are far more probable on sites with more traffic, usually in less of a niche, like hotels or electronic goods. Trusting all reviews on a site that considers types of shirt buttons is not advised.

5. People – despite what much of the world’s 21st Century media might tell you, the world’s population is largely honest. That’s right, honest. There are unscrupulous types, but they largely stick to the Internet Marketing scene(!) We are travellers. We are honest and friendly. We are open to new things and new places. We can, on balance, be trusted.