This weeks blog is looking at the validity of online review sites and how they affect us on a daily basis. As a naturally indecisive person, I’ll often look for the “review” page on anything I’m going to purchase to try and glean some inside information on whether my money is being well spent. But all too often I end up stuck in review hell – reading totally conflicting opinions on the same thing.
The travel industry in particular is now hugely influenced by online reviews with many websites readily available for all to view. As a child, I remember stacks of holiday brochures in our house of which my parents would choose the hotel they thought best fit their needs from the nice pictures! There was no way to find out the experiences of a total stranger at the touch of a button. But now, fast forward to 2019 and I for one, have spent the last two weeks obsessively reading every single review of the hotel I’ve chosen to stay at for my upcoming holiday and panicking if anyone has a negative word to say!
But isn’t it important we all stay grounded when it comes to what we read online? Isn’t everyone’s opinion subjective and relevant to their own personal expectations? For example, would it be utterly unacceptable to me to have to refill the mini bar in my room with my own two hands? Of course not. If there was a queue at hotel check in would I expect a short wait or would I create havoc and insist on being seen immediately? I’d happily wait. Yet I read a review online this week of somewhere that made the holidaymaker allocate the hotel a less than favourable score for these very two reasons. But possibly for that person, those things matter and they are used to holidaying in far more lavish hotels than me!
In any industry there are always going to be a variety of opinions based on what we deem as “acceptable”. And it’s quite worrying that in todays world, anyone can go online and post a one sided view of a hotel, product, service (or anything!) which could potentially affect future business. And yes, often a representative from the place in question can, and usually does respond to reviews but once it’s out there, is the damage done regardless of the response?
So I’m interested to know, in the travel industry, do you feel that online review sites are proving themselves as useful tools in helping you to achieve a true picture of something for your clients, or, are they best taken with a pinch of salt and do you spend most of your time reassuring your clients that they need to trust your expertise and judgement? Please feel free to comment with your views and opinions!