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The Travel Detective

Excess Baggage: Be Cautious About TripAdvisor Reviews

Before booking a trip, there’s a good chance that you’ve probably turned to TripAdvisor for reviews on hotels, restaurants, airlines or attractions.

And why not? TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site with over 535 million reviews, and those reviews are gathered from fellow travelers who’ve stayed, dined, or visited the places you may be thinking of going to. So of course the reviews are trustworthy and reliable, right?
Well, you might want to think again.
I stayed in room 406 at the Berkeley Hotel in the New Jersey resort town of Asbury Park. There was nothing exceptional to recommend it. There were just things that were wrong with it. But there’s something more important here. It’s how some hotels are trying to manipulate social media with online reviews and aren’t telling the truth.
Let’s start out with stains on the walls and a lock that was literally coming off the door. But there was more. The closet’s doors weren’t even in alignment. The carpet was dirty. There were stains on the windows, stains on the drapes and stains on the table. Would you pay to stay in this room? Guess what, it’s even worse. The air-conditioning system was broken.
Then comes the part that gets you angry. You get a card when you check in. The bellman actually hands you this card, and you’ll see the little TripAdvisor symbol there because the site is encouraging you to write a positive review of your stay. And in return, you’ll get 10% off on your next stay. Why would anyone write a positive review after you’ve seen this? And there’s the problem. Nobody’s telling the truth, and who’s checking? So remember this the next time you read an online review.
By Peter Greenberg for