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TripAdvisor – Friend or Foe?

Tracey Campbell - July 2, 2013

Travel Butlers are a fairly regular contributor to Trip Advisor, and a Senior Contributor too with regards to reviews submitted and forum contributions. In every post that we submit, we will always try to answer the question fairly and avoid putting too much personal spin on our comments or thoughts, as we really do think that what is one persons ‘poison’ may be another persons ‘champagne cocktail’ so to speak.

Personal opinion is always so subjective, and it does concern me that people will read Trip Advisor reviews and only focus on the one negative review, where someone was obviously just having a bad day and took a dislike to the colour of the wallpaper, rather than seeing through this and realising that the location was good, the bed comfy, and the breakfast actually was cooked and presented attractively.  They will conveniently overlook the 170 other positive reviews.

My general view on Trip Advisor is to take the overall ratings seriously but don’t get too hung up on the individual comments.  If overall a property is scoring over 4 out of all its reviews,  then you can pretty much be assured that it is of a high standard and quality.  If overall it is scoring one or 2, then maybe do have second thoughts about booking it as part of your trip of a lifetime.

We always ask our guests for feedback when they get home from their trip, and we also ask them to score each place they stayed (and our service too) with a mark out of 5 – with one being poor, and 5 being excellent.  One particular ‘scoring’ that springs immediately to mind was with a lovely guest house in Cape Town that we use a lot, and also know personally having stayed there ourselves.  The score came back as an astounding 1 out of 5 – whereas previously the guest house had regularly scored 4 and 5 consistently.  Obviously very worried that one of our favourite guest houses had been taken over by terrible people, we called up the customer and asked them why they had marked the guest house down so severely.

Their answer was (and I quote) – the bread rolls at breakfast looked nice but were very bland tasting and the bacon was too salty.

I re-iterate – what someone may see as a huge fault, other people will just roll with it (no pun intended).


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