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  • Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reviews, Reviews

The new age of enlightenment has overtaken the hospitality industry with a "boom".  Reviews from multiple sources on the internet have now become the number one resource for an educated consumer to have more confindence in their destination, and less "surprise".  Are reviews "accurate"?.  Can you count on what you read for the "truth"?  The answer is an empiracal "Maybe"!  TripAdvisor is the leader in online reviews, and, they are by definition an "e" newspaper, online, meaning, they publish what they want, under their rules and guidlines.  Operating under a veil of secrecy, it can be a fantastic asset for a new business to get exposure, or a source of misleading information for the general travelling public.  Helpful or Hurtful?  Definetly helpful in most cases.  Other unverified "review" sources such as Yahoo and Google and Yelp are almost entirely negative comments from people who do not like the owners, an employee, or wish to remain untraceable and unverifiable while they write something defamatory for "personal" reasons and seldom if ever, any business reasons.  The balance of good reviews on the local unverifiable sources are always "5 Stars" and are almost always posted by the Hotels owners or staff.   I would ignore these types of "Reviews" completely.  They are almost all posted by friends who write 5 star reviews for far less than 5 star places,  or cousins or disgruntled people who just dont like the owners or managers because of a negative interaction on a personal level and want to spread their vitreol or "payback".  There is no question that the vast majority of the vacationing public can see right through the small amount of "tampering" that occurs.  When booking from afar, please make sure that you have access to:

  1. A number of verifiable  reviews from a source like TripAdvisor.  They are not always "true" and a percentage will have been written by family, co-workers and supporters, but they certainly paint a picture of what is in general, more accurate than anything else available.  These reviews, when combined with accurate and rvealing photo's of the hotel or resort will combine to yield a good picture of the actual property and what they offer.  This One Two combination will be effective.  I believe that lately, a reviewer may have to produce a receipt for their stay if the review is questioned.  A fake or defamatory review thats gets through will always attack the owner, the manager, or an individual rather than have any valid criticism of their stay.  In general, a well functioning business has the routine down pat, and must deal with a very small percentage of emotionally needy clients.  The odds are greater for conflict when the guest provokes a required rebuke by smoking, or will not check out of the Suite or leave the property, bringing extra guests without consent or payment.  These types of individuals who are dishonest to begin with, are the ones to retaliate when challenged.  
  2. Review plenty of video and photographic material of the entire property, including the hotel exterior,  the rooms or suites inside, in addition to the grounds and amenities.  Double check the location of the property as well.  If a business gives a lot of shots of butterflies, flowers, rocks, beaches, sunrises etc etc, but does not show THE ACTUAL PROPERTY, SUITES,  AND LOCATION of neighbours, surrounding buildings, highways, roads, beaches, pools etc....make sure you are getting the type of property you "think" you are getting.  A business that does not post copious amounts of recent and authentic pictures of their property is one to be wary of.  Mindful business's that wish to showcase their property and location, will go out of their way to video and photograph their great amenities and location, and rooms or Suites. (See Our Video Tab above the Blog "Tour Our Resort"  Be Careful when a property has "GREAT REVIEWS" and NO ACTUAL PHOTOS of their rooms, property, amenities, and importantly, the distance to their neighbours. Usually this is a biig tip off of something missing!!  Get the total picture to be certain you are getting what you are paying for.   Type in the address on Google Maps and zoom, making sure it is where you think it is. Seashell Suites is a direct and private oceanfront property.  Some properties give the impression they are on the beach, when in fact, they are not.  
  3. Is there a "formulae" for knowing what the "real" score of reviews really is.  Not in truth, but a rule of thumb, might be the following.  Say a hotel has 100 reviews.   Throw out the bottom 10%, the worst ones....just omit them.  You now have 90 reviews left.  Now throw out the top 50.  The remaining 40 is the actual unrelated, arms length opinion of their guests.  Not exactly science, but a rough guide to the number of either defamatory posts, and family or friends posts.  The middle ground may give a better sense of a picture.  Tough to make a call when a business has less than, say, 30 reviews.