My problem with hotel reviews

When we travel, we make use of Tripadvisor and Hostelworld to help us evaluate the various places to stay.  The reviews can help to identify those places that may be better suited for our particular needs and preferences.

Now, there are all sorts of pitfalls that come into play when using reviews.  I won’t try to address them all here.  I want to focus on a particular type of comment that I see frequently in reviews which I find particularly troublesome.

Hitchhikers hostel sitting area

What do all of the following statements have in common?

“There are nicer places to stay in X”

“You can really find better places for the same price… “

“Not a bad place but you can get a lot more for your money elsewhere.”

“There are much much better hostels in X for the price.”

I took these statements from actual reviews and have replaced the city name with an X because they are not unique to any particular location.  By their nature, you would generally find these types of statements in those reviews where the reviewer had some problem or negative experience with the place in question.

What they all have in common is that they are useless wastes of words.  Let’s look at the nature of these statements in more detail.

The reviewer is implying that he has experience with other hotels/hostels in this city and has found others that are superior and may offer those superior facilities at the same or better price.  This would beg the question as to why he is not staying at the superior place.  If you already knew of a good place to stay with a reasonable price, wouldn’t you stay there instead of going to someplace and take the chance that it will be as good?  We have been to Quito, Ecuador, on 3 or 4 occasions and we always stay at the same place.  We have found that it suits us very well and it has a reasonable price.  Why go somewhere else and risk a bad experience?

Casa Bambu, our room with a nice bright sitting area

Since the reviewer never identifies these superior places, perhaps they actually don’t have any first hand experience with these unidentified hotels/hostels.  If that is the case, then why would they include such a statement in their review?  It doesn’t provide any value to the reader of the review.  The idea that there may be better places has most likely already occurred to the reader.

What would be helpful is that if you have first hand knowledge of a superior place to stay at a reasonable price, include the name or names of these places in your review.  Now you have provided real value to the reader.  You have not only shown the nature of your bad experience with the place being reviewed, you have also provided the reader with the names of other places to check out that may be a better choice.

Otherwise, just stick with your first hand experience and stop there.


6 thoughts on “My problem with hotel reviews

    • Hey Timmy’s wife: On a trip like this we have the need to search for and book upwards of 20 places to stay. It’s not a matter of having too much time on my hands, I end up spending a couple of hours going through listings and reviews in order to select each one of those places. Besides, why get in the way of a rant?

  1. Kevin:
    I love to read your stuff. So much passion. It makes your narratives so interesting. Much better than the teacher in Ferris Bueller; “Bueller?” “Bueller?” No passion.

    The real question is their motivation? Are these phony entries submitted by competing facilities?

    On the other hand, since everything on the internet is true, you may want to check out those un-named recommendations. Good hunting……

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