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A more reliable way forward for travel review sites?

On travel review sites, anyone can write a review of a hotel, regardless of whether or not they’ve stayed there. According to a study by Market Metrix, as many as 40% of user reviews are fake. There are other problems with user reviews of hotels. Certain types of travellers are much more likely than others to write reviews: business travellers, for example, are under-represented on sites like TripAdvisor. Many luxury properties are also unfairly penalised by a large number of 1-star reviews about their ancillary facilities — like bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and golf courses — and not about the actual experience of being an overnight guest. Sifting through these reviews can be time-consuming and it is often hard to determine which are accurate representations of the property. A new travel startup called TripExpert is tackling this problem head-on. TripExpert creates a single score for a hotel based on combined “expert” reviews from over 20 top travel publications like Conde Nast Traveler, Frommer’s, Travel + Leisure and others. TripExpert scores range from 60 to 100. A score of 80-90 is “Excellent” and a score of 90-100 is “Outstanding/Best in Class.” A hotel with a score of 92 is an outstanding property no matter where it’s located. TripExpert doesn’t have the same breadth as TripAdvisor — it currently rates only around 40,000 hotels — but there is coverage of most major travel destinations. TripExpert Now, it’s easier to find a luxury hotel in your destination according to what the experts have to say. The site has curated its selection to include only the properties that professional reviewers would recommend. You can search by destination or hotel name. For savvy travellers seeking top-quality hotels, TripExpert provides trusted reviews and an alternative to sites like TripAdvisor. What do you think? Is this a more reliable way forward for travel review sites?

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Well that’s good to know, Paul. Sometimes I wonder about Tripadvisor, in so far as the way some of the reviews are written. Some definitely lack in their tone and depth, whereas others are very well written and certainly appear to be genuine.

    I can see how the luxury market in particular can suffer on these type of review sites. People who maybe don’t book luxury hotels that often can be extra critical, in some cases. I like the concept of TripExpert. I checked out the site and their tagline and blue banner work well together. Blue is the colour of trust, and the tagline says: “Finally, hotel reviews you can trust.”

    All good. I appreciate they only have 40,000 hotels or so. I searched for Valencia, that was good. I searched for Sitges, which is a popular destination, as I know you know – nothing for it. I guess if they can balance this end of things out, it will be a super resource. Certainly I liked their scoring system for Sitges.

  2. You’re right, Jackie… luxury hotels can sometimes suffer on sites like Tripadvisor since issues such as perceived value for money come into play, rather than purely service and attention to detail. Expectations can sometimes be unreasonably high whereas at the budget end, expectations will likely be much lower and so it becomes easier to please, so to speak.

    Interesting that Sitges is omitted. The same is true for the area where I live – the Lake District – arguably the second most popular tourist destination in the country besides London, but no apparent representation. I guess there’s a US bias to the publications being used and possibly a city bias to the hotels that are featured in those publications, but hopefully this can expand with time to allow greater coverage.

  3. I love TripExpert. While there aren’t really enough hotels on there (yet) their site is so easy to use and much more appealing to look at. I love the fact that you can select which currency you see and which price range so easily.

  4. I consider tripadvisor the site for us ordinary folk. Yah some reviews are too negative or even too positive. I am looking for reviews from people who think like i do in a travel sense.

  5. Nice layout and easy to use. With only two hotels in Cordoba at the moment it’ll take quite a while to be an important resource but far more preferable than TripAdvisor. Definitely one to watch.

  6. Good to know and it sounds good. But does this include or exclude paid reviews? Paid reviews will/can influence any ‘closed’ review system.

    Like Jackie wrote, some reviews on tripadvisor do lack depth, and can be emotional specially if they are negative and they can be of influence on a rating. But visitors checking out the reviews should be able to read through the bullshit. But than again that is a time consuming business.

    Still I like the idea of a website specially for luxury hotels and places.

  7. good recomendation! my last stay in Verona was a disaster with a “good hotel” recommended by tripadvisor. For sure those recommendations were fakes
    thanks for this link

  8. Would welcome a professional review system also for holiday residences. Sharing customer experiences is essential in the current internet world however if the majority of reviews is a result of gadget driven customers one can doubt the value of the review.

  9. Well it may not be as fool proof as it looks. Often times, publications tend to present a biased view…. Mainly because of advertising revenue that’s generated by these same hotels that they set out to ‘honestly’ review. I’m on the fence here.

  10. Really interesting post. Trolls are an awful problem for accommodation, so much so that some places would give anything not to be part of TripAdvisor, but sadly they don’t have the choice. I think this review system sounds really valuable and reliable but I do think TripAdvisor still has value. Travelers should be able to voice their honest opinion and help others with their holidays and it’s sad that you’ll never get this without trolls.

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