Saturday, April 25, 2015

The trouble with web sites like tripadvisor.com

Nice holiday picThis morning, I'm discussing with boyfriend K what hotel we're going to stay in on our next holiday.

"I've actually been there before :-)," I tell boyfriend K, pausing slightly, "because I went there with boyfriend T in 2009!"

Although boyfriend K never met boyfriend T, for some reason he's never comfortable when I mention his name. But on this occasion he doesn't react.

"So …" I continue, pointing to an area on the google map on my computer screen, "this is definitely the best area to stay in."

"But how can you say that?" complains boyfriend K.

"Because I've been there before :-)" I reply, feeling quiet confident in my answer.

"But don't forget you're a posh bitch!" retorts boyfriend K, playfully.

"But does it matter whether I'm rich or poor? That area has the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best night life …"

"Imagine you're a backpacker like I was ten years ago," interrupts boyfriend K.

"So if I'm trying to save money I'd stay here," he continues, pointing to a different location on the map, "and afterwards I'd be telling other backpackers that that's the *Best* place to stay. I'd tell them how cheap it is, and I'd tell them that it costs very little to catch a bus for a day trip to the place that you're talking about!"

I sit back and think about what boyfriend K has just said, and I realise that he's right. I'd forgotten how subjective the word "Best" is. And "Best" for me if I've got a reasonable income isn't going to be the same as "Best" for a budget traveller.

trip advisor logoIn general, I glad that websites like tripadvisor.com exist, because in theory it ensures that hotels and restaurants always need to be trying to give a good service. Tourists may be one time visitors, but their reports of good or bad experiences on the internet can encourage or deter visitors in the future. However, the conversation that I had with boyfriend K this morning made me realise that the rating systems that all these web site have are fundamentally flawed. In practice, perhaps those websites aren't as useful as they seem?

3 comments:

Was Once said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Chang said...

Actually, I used to think that there's adverse selection that favor negative reviews, but that's not true. There are tons of positive reviews for products on Amazon and Yelp. I think it is actually that some people like to review moreso than others. And I won't discount trip advisor... If you're a posh service junkie, you're not gonna pick a value motel and therefore won't stay at one nor leave a review for one saying that you were duped. But I can definitely see how "best" is subjective.

GB said...

I agree, Bruce, although perhaps your comment misses my point. If they're good in their category, both the value motel and the upmarket hotel in the same area may well have almost the same ranking on tripadvisor, if their respective clients both like the establishements.

GB xxx