In this day and age, when there are hundreds of thousands of travel apps, travel bloggers, booking sites, websites and review platforms, it’s harder than ever to tell if the information you’re receiving is legitimate and unbiased. It can be difficult for the average vacationer to sift through sponsored content (which may skew a review) or know which post on tripadvisor is from a reliable source and not the brand planting a glowing review for their establishment. If you’re unsure of where to turn when researching vacations, let us help you sift through the bogus content and get the facts you need.
1. Are you seeing the same information across multiple websites?
If you see great reviews on a variety of sites, it’s safe to assume it’s a pretty good bet. It’s always a good sign if you see the same details brought up on different sites. But, people aren’t always honest and writers will sometimes take perks from companies without divulging such to their readers. Beware the glowing review on a travel blogger’s site when other travel writers hated it or TripAdvisor shows lots of negative feedback. So, do your research utilizing a bevy of sites to ensure you don’t get suckered by a well-paid writer.
2. Is there sponsored content?
When you click on a travel blogger’s page, check to see if the post is sponsored. Sponsored content can skew a review because the writer got a free trip, stay or money in exchange for their post. Although sponsored content can still be helpful, or entertaining, I try to be a bit guarded when taking their radiant review to heart. Someone that pays for their own trip tends to see everything through non-rose colored glasses and will give a more accurate review, on average.
3. Is the website professional?
When you are doing travel research, take into account the reliability of the website you’re reading. Is it rampant with spelling errors? Does the site look updated and well maintained? You don’t want to take the opinion of someone who isn’t a legitimate world-traveler. Be wary of anything that sounds like a scam and run for the hills if they are trying to sell a guide to traveling or soliciting funds.
4. Are you finding detailed information?
Details are very important. When a review is entirely too broad (ex. our whole stay was perfect from check-in to check-out,) take it with a grain of salt. When a reviewer is thorough and detailed, that’s usually a good sign that the writer is well-informed and experienced. If a review mentions the great coffee they had delivered daily or details a resort’s fabulous amenities, then you know you’re on to a genuine review that you can use to make your final decision.
5. How authentic is the source?
When you do come across a detailed post or review, do a little research on the site (or person posting the review) before you take their opinion seriously.
If you’re on a blog, is it a travel blog or a blog focused on a different industry with travel sprinkled in? While the latter can still be informative, you’re better off finding people that travel for a living. Are there quality links and sources on their page? You want this to be an educational experience, not a frustrating one. Is their blog independent, or are they part of a larger entity? Does this person have similar interests as you and have a similar travel style? These all factor into a source’s reliability regarding their travel experiences.
If you’re on a travel review site, take a look at the user that posted the review. You’ll want to check to see that they’ve written a few reviews as having only one is an instant red flag. Does the review sound like it was professionally written, or is it more personal and unique? Companies will sometimes pay reviewers, or have their employees write formal reviews to boost their ratings. Is the person posting the review TOO positive when other reviews skew negative or middle of the road? If so, that could also indicate someone was paid to write the glowing review and isn’t a trustworthy source. And lastly, if the review is overly negative, don’t discount it, but don’t take it as gospel, either. It’s our tendency to want to bring a business down if we feel slighted somehow. Typically, for every scathing review written, there are a good 50 happy, satisfied customers that just didn’t take the time to write one themselves.
As always, do your due diligence and check out a variety of sources before booking. If you do that and follow our tips outlined above, you’ll have peace of mind every time you travel!