You’re planning your vacation, and you want it to be perfect. You think you have found the best hotel in which to stay and it’s in the perfect location… Then you start to read online reviews.
Most are good, but then you come across some online reviews that are not-so-good. And it’s the “not-so-good” ones that could totally ruin your trip whether you know it or not.
How should you read online reviews?
I recently purchased a new camera after we lost ours and thought it was gone forever. It’s a Sony Cybershot RX100 IV, and it’s one of the best cameras out there. It shoots ultra-HD (4K) video which no other camera of it’s size can do. Of course, before I bought it I had to read the reviews. One particular review stood out to me. This guy gave the camera a really negative review because it can only shoot 5 minutes worth of ultra-HD video. He hated that so much that he sent the camera back and bought a different one. The only problem is there is no other camera comparable that shoots ultra-HD. He had a great camera and exchanged it for a lesser quality camera that couldn’t shoot in ultra-HD at all. However, that negative review impacted the cameras overall rating.
Personally, I decided to buy the Sony Cybershot any way, and I love it! One of the coolest features is that it can send photos to your smartphone when synced up through WiFi. The picture quality is amazing as is the 4k video.
Read Up Before Reading Reviews
Those same type of people who write negative online reviews for cameras and other products are also out there writing online reviews for hotels. It’s the person that wants to be in the heart of Times Square but then complains that the hotel is noisy and they can’t sleep. Hello…YOU’RE IN TIMES SQUARE!
Or the person that stays at a timeshare and then gets angry when they are constantly getting harassed to attend a meeting to another timeshare. (It happened to us once. Never again.)
So how should you read these online reviews? The truth is you need to familiarize yourself with where you’re going.
For example, you won’t find a king size bed in Europe. And if you do, you’re going to pay a high price for it! At best you may get a queen or more commonly two twins pushed together. So don’t get upset if you find the beds to be “too small”. That’s just how they do things in Europe. Headed to Las Vegas? Don’t complain and knock down a hotel’s score because some man on the street slid a card with a naked lady on it to your 13-year-old son. It’s Vegas! Not saying it’s right, but it definitely isn’t the hotel’s fault.
Or let’s say you scored a great deal on a ski in-ski out lodge in Aspen for early December, and you arrive only to realize that there’s hardly any snow, and the only runs that are open are the bunny hills. It’s early December… the snow usually doesn’t arrive until later in the month. Don’t blame your hotel because of Mother Nature.
Some people will find any reason to complain, and they use the internet to vent. But the truth is that half of these negative reviews are not warranted.
When it comes to researching a destination, I tend to seek out other travel bloggers experiences first. For one, they are seasoned travelers, so they know what is and is not the norm for a particular region or country. Two, they offer an honest opinion without nitpicking.
But online reviews can and should be part of your research when selecting a hotel, destination or product. Here are three tips to properly read them.
Three Tips for Deciphering Online Reviews
Take the time to really read the reviews and seek out other sources. How exactly do you do that?
- Check out Google Maps. If you’re traveling within the United States or another location where Google has street view, use the images provided to get a good idea of what the hotel really looks like on the outside and see how close it may be to street noise or questionable establishments. Since Google takes a snap shot without letting the hotels know you’re likely to get an unbiased look at the hotel.
- Check out a reviewer’s previous reviews. Some people never have anything nice to say. One way to determine just how much weight you should give a negative review is to check the reviewer’s other reviews. If they are constantly giving a low rating, nit-picking or complaining, ignore them. Also, see what types of establishments they’ve reviewed in the past. If they’ve primarily reviewed 4 and 5 star hotels, and then left a horrible review on a hostel or even a three star hotel, you can probably guess their expectations were a little high.
- Use common sense. Do not judge a hotel’s value based solely off the ratings. We’ve stayed in some amazing hotels and apartments that had less than stellar ratings. Read the reviews, but familiarize yourself with the culture there as well. A little common sense when reading online reviews can go a long way.
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