Can You Trust Trip Advisor? - My Family Travels
New Media Travel
New Media Travel

Travelers are becoming addicted to on-line travel sites that post reviews of properties and destinations by anybody who stayed at the places they write about: Consumer Generated Content or CGC in the biz. The theory is that reading what regular travelers have to say about a hotel, a beach or quality of service at an inn, is more useful than reading comments from a travel writer.

But is it really so?

It seems unhappy customers are far more likely to comment negatively on a hotel than those whose experiences are positive. That’s OK if the comments are true. But many of the posted comments are just plain false, causing a lot of damage to the inn or hotel.

One inn owner burned by what she considers unfounded, negative postings, questions the motives of these disgruntled review writers. She say some comments were just malicious and harmful to her business. More often, the problem is that Consumer Generate Reviews are written by travelers with little real depth of travel experience, and may be unreliable.

Steve Kaufer, CEO of Trip Advisor, probably the leading reviewer-oriented travel web site on the Internet, sees it differently “We screen all comments before we post them, he says, “and we have proprietary tools that help us detect fraudulent reviews.” So far so good. Kaufer says his company “represent the truth in travel, like getting advice from a trusted friend.” Maybe. But if your friend is easily wowed, or happened to fall in love at that particular hotel on that particular trip, can you trust his or her judgment?

We do feel that these first-hand comments by actual travelers are very useful…but they can also be so subjective as to be worthless. Trick is to read many different reviews from many different sources and detect a common thread. Some web sites like Professional Travel Guides post only reviews by professional travel journalists And that seems to be the direction again. On balance, while we like the democracy of Consumer Generated Content and Reviews, we prefer they be balanced by content from profesional travel writers. They can’t hide behind anonymity, and can be held responsible for what they say!

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