August 30, 2012

Travel Reviews – Fake or Real?

The legitimacy of reviews on travel websites, like TripAdvisor, have come under scrutiny once again. I think its fair to say, we all acknowledge fake reviews exist - probably on every website. But the issues is to what extent are purportedly credible websites successfully preventing rampant abuse? Unscrupulous proprietors misrepresenting their facility with false reviews are bound to get caught, but not soon enough for duped travelers. Fortunately, it's likely the greater percentage of reviews are legitimate, particularly on websites with high numbers of reviews. And honestly, I'm not sure we care if a facility writes their own review if it's true and accurate. But, rather than debating whether travel websites have legit reviews, shouldn't we be asking, How much importance should you place on reviews when planning your next trip or outing?

Let me first state, I believe reviews have a purpose, particularly if you know the reviewer and trust their opinion or reputation. Their opinion can be invaluable. However, in the case of online reviews or comments, it is highly unlikely you have reason to trust the reviewer's opinions. So why would you? Their review may have some merit, but how would you know? Still, if you absolutely need more input during the decision process, here's a little guidance: If a facility has a high number of reviews or comments online, chances are by averaging them you'll get decent guest representation. Conversely, it's very difficult to gauge accuracy or legitimacy when there are only a few reviews, so beware. And, even if there are a high number of reviews make sure you're giving the most value to the most recent. Applying this guidance should help some, but it's still a gamble.

All this conversation about whether travel site reviews are fake or real, reliable or not just leaves the traveler feeling extremely vulnerable. Travelers simply looking for good, solid information on the places they're considering are still relying too heavily on reviews? Shouldn't someone be asking whether reviews are very useful? Again, while it's likely the greater percentage of reviews are legitimate, you don't know these people and even legitimate reviews may not match your own criteria. Taking reviews into consideration can help you tip the scales in favor of one place over another, but shouldn't be the basis for your plans. Relying too heavily on reviews is the equivalent of letting a stranger make your plans.

Now I know what you're thinking, you need something to go on, but making a decision based on the likes and dislikes of others is a big gamble. Would you really hand your trip planning over to complete strangers? So, what choice do you have when planning a trip other than reviews? You could visit the facility before you book it. I can hear you laughter! But seriously, there is a way - at TravelVision we're working hard to make that happen. We're building a website that allows you to preview destinations and form your own opinion all from the comfort of your laptop. TravelVision will change the way you plan. Through authentic video tours of the places you want to go you'll be able to see what it's really like to stay there. Instead of rolling the dice you'll be able to make a more informed decision – Know Before You Go!

We're hard at work developing and will be happy to keep you informed of our progress. Simply add your email address to our interim home page and we'll keep you up to date as we add more features and destinations.

Lastly, when it comes to reviews trust your instincts and do your homework. Find a website where the pro reviewers opinions and ratings match your own and take user reviews for what there worth. Don't forget, as a guest make sure you add reviews so you become part of the filter that prevents false reviews from having too much influence.

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