How we use online review sites
( when we travel)
- Read, read, read: we will put in plenty of time on various sites using google as a starting place. We would never start anywhere else. Even if we were short on time, we’d still start with google over any app or travel site.
- Shortlist: we’d aim to get at least 5 to 10 candidates out of the above research and to do that we pay close attention to the following factors:
The profile of the reviewers themselves: are they young, older, on a budget,from which countries, intelligent, thoughtful, balanced? Do they leave details about the establishment that are helpful, do they reference specifics, do they repeat what others seems to be saying in previous reviews, or are they just leaving short reviews because they liked the owners or found the experience good on their pocket? If a place seems to be getting a lot of reviews from people that we do not identify with, then we do not shortlist it. If a place seems to get a good number of well written, seemingly genuine reviews that contains info we are looking for, that place is usually on the shortlist.
The photos of the establishment: reviews can be deceptive but images , less so in the case of reviews. If the management did not bother to put in high quality photos of their place or simply the product(s) look poor, we move on.
The ratings breakdown: A place with almost all poor ratings is probably poor. A place with a lot of ratings and with a high ratio of favorable ones to poor is a candidate, but there is a fair chance that it is more popular, than good, and therefore over-rated. Just scan the good ones to get an idea of the reviewer profile to see if these are people that share your values, and check the poor ones to see if the reviews seem genuine or are just attacks from competitors. Most places hover around the mean, in reality, therefore a place with an unusually low ratio of good to average ratings is probably under-rated and worth reading reviews in more detail. Note: rankings, certificates and other random accolades are totally disregarded and are given how rigged the review game is, usually invite added scrutiny from us.
Owner responses: Any place that has sends a generic review in response to a review is out, as is one that does not directly acknowledge the content of the review, or one that apologizes for everything under the sun. We like places that stand up for themselves when a reviewer gives them an unfair shake and admits mistakes when they are responsible for them.
Website: any place that does not have its own website is out. Facebook does not count. Instagram does not count. On a proper website, you can really see how the personality of a place including its pictures, its copy, and how it relates to customers. If the site says little and is just out-sourced o some web designers or does not return email..definitely out.
Blogs, News: Places that get listed in blogs, wikis, news, magazines are worth checking further as that kind of coverage gives a fuller picture.
Locale priorities: On sites that contain rankings, you can tell a lot about the type of people that live and travel there. If their top 10 contains mostly buffet restaurants , fast food or large corporate hotels, that’s a place we would not want to go to and would look elsewhere or very deep into the listings.