When scoping out a potential hotel, how often do you read the reviews? Hotel reviews can be tremendously helpful when trying to pick the right hotel for your next trip. You want to be prepared and in the know, and guest reviews can do just that. But have you ever wondered just how reliable they are? We wanted to know the truth, so we decided to do some digging. Now you can navigate reviews and book your next hotel with confidence too.
There are a few things you should look for in hotel reviews to ensure you have the best stay possible. The first thing to remember when reading reviews is that they are a person’s opinion—and thus can be biased, and at times, fake.
Also keep in mind that people tend to leave a review when they’ve had an exceedingly positive or negative experience. The average experience is often left unreported. So, when reading hotel reviews, it’s important to understand that the reviews can be exaggerated or biased one way or the other.
The Best Hotel Review Sites
It turns out that the majority of consumers don’t trust review sites (shocker!). In his Forbes article, “These Are The Best Hotel Review Sites In The World,” author Christopher Elliott cites a survey that found that the majority of adults surveyed (53%) said they didn’t trust any of the top review sites. Of the 1,789 adults polled, big names like TripAdvisor, Google, and Trivago were listed as the review websites most used—but the “best” review sites were actually “none of the above.”
Here are the survey results for the most trusted review sites:
- None of the above (53%) – The highest response on the survey. Consumers have made it clear that they do not trust hotel review sites.
- TripAdvisor (24%) – Other than “none of the above,” TripAdvisor is the most trusted site for travel reviews. But TripAdvisor reviews can be controversial because they don’t require a verified booking to leave a review.
- Google (9%) – Again, the main problem with Google reviews is that anyone can leave a review, regardless of whether they visited a hotel or not. The benefit of Google reviews is that hotels are allowed to flag a review from anyone without a verified stay at the hotel.
- Trivago (8%) – Although Trivago doesn’t post user reviews, they do publish a rating index based on reviews from sites like Expedia and Hotels.com. Trivago places third in the survey because the automated process of averaging the scores gives an objective overall view of hotel reviews.
- Booking.com (5%) – You’ll find real reviews from actual guests on Booking.com. But proceed with caution… Their reviews are inflated and likely sorted to show you the best reviews first. For an in-depth dissection of Booking.com’s shady practices including how they skew their reviews, we applaud Roman Cheplyaka for his diligent exposé found here.
- Facebook (1%) – One benefit Elliott cites for Facebook reviews is the ability to verify the actual identity of a reviewer and thus know it is a legitimate review and not a fake name.
- Oyster (less than 1%) – Elliott states that Oyster, while receiving the fewest votes, uses “the most powerful methodologies on this list of the best hotel review sites.” He says that Oyster uses professional investigators who investigate and then publish expert reviews.
How to Gauge if a Review Is Trustworthy
With 53% of those surveyed saying that they don’t find any review sites trustworthy, it means that most of us take travel reviews with a grain of salt. When reading hotel reviews, look for the following things to weed out the truth from the trolls.
- Check the facts. To determine if a review is relevant, notice if important details like date of stay, prices, and other verifiable facts are included. These minute details can help give a review legitimacy.
- Look for bias. Is the review extremely slanted to either a very positive or very negative experience? Is the focus all good or all bad? If everything in the review is negative, it’s possibly just a rant and not a review.
- Note the tone. Does it read like a temper tantrum? Emotional outbursts are common in reviews where the reviewer is either venting a personal grudge or simply looking for negative attention.
- Name the reviewer. Notice if the review is written using an actual person’s name or a pseudonym. Those who hide behind fake names often write exaggerated and/or biased reviews.
- Is it verified? Also notice if the review can be verified and tied to an actual stay at the hotel.
Ultimately, take all reviews in stride and remember that they are just one person’s opinion—and thus subjective. At Roomkey, we choose to provide hotel ratings and reviews from TripAdvisor. Information on TripAdvisor comes straight from the source—you, the traveler—which is why we put our trust in them to guide your path toward booking your dream hotel.
Ready to book your next vacation? Visit roomkey.com to view our hotel partners around the world and start putting your newfound review navigation skills to the test.