Yet another article about questionable reviews at TripAdvisor, combined with some nonsense I saw posted at CruiseCritic last night, has prompted this post. The article, in Thursday’s Seattle Times, focuses on “…a string of flattering write-ups about the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel” but talks as well about TripAdvisor’s poor response to questions about possible fake reviews.
At CruiseCritic, the first things that got my attention were 3 comments about Carcross that were simply nonsense. Two of the comments were attributed to driver/guides for the company that I respected the most for giving quality tours out of Skagway, so that got my attention as well.
All online review sites and forums have these problems, and a few months ago I quit posting at any of them to keep my blood pressure in check. Okay, I didn’t quit completely, but I might post once a week in total now instead of several or even many times a day. After what I’ve seen in the past few hours I’m going to just quit browsing them to see what’s new.
One doesn’t have to dig very deep to find reviews or information that has red flags flying high. At TripAdvisor, one of the top-rated Yukon B&Bs has only been in business for a few months but already has plenty of reviews, all giving them 5 stars. But in every case, this is the first review that the reviewer has made – that’s a huge red flag. Perhaps the reviews are legit, but asking your guests to post reviews does give a property a placement advantage over the operators who don’t know how to use the system. That’s the sort of thing you need to look at when assessing reviews.
With information in the TripAdvisor forums, there are people like “RescueTeam” giving information about the Yukon even though the only thing he knows about the territory is what he finds on Google. His 44,000 posts seem to make him the Destination Expert for Earth! Another post on CruiseCritic yesterday trashes a Skagway company that the poster has never used, but to back up his belief that the company is unreliable, he tells a story about the company ownership that is total rubbish.
It’s a common statement that you need to accept X’s story “with a grain of salt”. While Cathy and I still use review sites to check out hotels and tours in particular, the unfortunate reality is that you need not a grain of salt but a block the size of the salt lick I put out for moose. We’re determined to never go on a bad tour, and to never again end up in a dump like we booked in Fort Lauderdale a few years ago!