I discovered tripadvisor a couple of years ago and since then have used it every time I have gone away whether in the UK or abroad.
Basically the site allows people to write reviews bout places they have visited, not just hotels, but attractions and popular areas and places as well, there are also discussion boards and lists of places to visit all over the world, just search the area and it will come up with the most popular attractions adn information about the area.
Personally I tend to just use the review section, especially when I am going to book a hotel or if I am going to buy tickets for some sort of attraction. Often there are thousands of reviews for places and it is an excellent way of getting a good idea of what the hotel or attraction is like.
You can filter the reviews, for example only seeing reviews from people ho went as a couple, or as a family, people who rated it is poor, or excellent etc...
Whilst I do look at reviews from all sections I try to take the 'terrible' ratings with a pinch of salt, unless there are a huge number of them, I prefer to look at those with average and good ratings and see what they think to get a more rounded judgement of a place.
You do need to have a bit of an open mind and remember that we are all different, especially when it comes to things such as holiday resorts, I for example have been places which I loved but others have marked as terrible, examples of this being people who have gone to family resorts and then rated terrible because there are too many children there!
I would say research as much as you can, but tripadvisor is an great place to start and I find it to be so useful in making my travel choices.
Long the bain of many a hotelier's professional life, TripAdvisor seems to finally be getting the media attention it deserves.
The irony of reviewing a review site is not lost on me, however unlike many of the reviewers on TripAdvisor, I WILL endeavor to be concise, honest and most of all fair.
Now, the majority of reviews will be genuine. This does not necessarily make them reliable. Often travelers will have been offended in some way by something that will put them in a stinker of a mood, and the right mind to write a cantankerous review. Fair enough you may say, and often it is, however a friend of mine has experienced a bad review of their Bed and Breakfast due to the fact they asked for money to cover the postage costs of returning a very heavy item to a guest who had absent mindedly left it behind. Not to mention the reviews from other B and B's or guests who have described the hoteliers as alcoholics, or an immaculate premises of having vermin.
TripAdvisor is receiving more and more media coverage not only for it's unreliability, but for the fact that even though it's Terms and Conditions state personal remarks as reason for not publishing a review, they refuse to remove clearly falsified or slanderous reviews. This would be fine if the hotel's had any say in whether or not they appeared on the website - but they do not. They cannot remove themselves, either.
A tip from the inside - they're all at it. Writing reviews of rival businesses, writing reviews of their own businesses and encouraging friends to create accounts to do the same.
The average traveller has to be VERY cautious when using this site. Do not get caught up in slanderous hype, and consider the price range you are viewing - don't expect caviar for breakfast if you're staying in a B&B. Read the middle of the road reviews and you may get a general idea of what to expect. Remember, generally people who can be bothered to put time to a review are either so incensed with anger that they feel they have to take the business down, or exceptionally happy. This is a review site of falsifications and extremes, and not to be trusted.
Trip Advisor has been around for a long long time, designed to help travellers spread their word about their travels, opinions, tips and other useful information: all to do with travelling and trips.
Tripadvisor is available in approximately 22 countries and with those countries a selection of languages.
You can find information on a number of travel components to include: hotels, flights, restaurants, things to do, cruises and new to the list is vacation rentals.
The amount of information that you can find that you wont find ´in the book ` on here is absolutely priceless. Most of it anyway.
I find that I use the Forum the most. I like to post my own tips, my experiences and even give my opinion on certain travel related things on this forum. Many other Tripadvisors are very very useful and probably saved me alot of hassle and sometimes even money from their generosity and time of posting on this website.
Something I dont particularly like about this is that you can get some Tripadvisors who are a little cocky and seem to act like they own the website just because they have post god knows how many times and have been given the title of ´destination expert`. This can be a little annoying.
Another thing is that, as hotels, restaurants etc can be rated and reviewed on this site, I find that some of the ratings and reviews are a little misleading and unfair. You kind of only get the opinion of those people who have time and knowledge of going on a computer but I guess you could say that about alot of review sites.
Overall I like this website, maybe it does help that I love travelling and talking about it!
Over the last few weeks I have found the trip advisor website to be a godsend. I had never heard of this site before. It was recommended to me by a friend. I have to say, generally I have found it to be very useful in helping me make my decisions on where to stay on holiday this year.
Basically trip advisor is a site which has an extensive catalogue of reviews of hotels and other holiday accomodation. The best thing about this site though is that all reviews are non biased and written by members of the public who have experienced a holiday in these hotels.
The reviewers will rate the hotels very similarly to the rating system of dooyoo. They will take into consideration the food, hospitality, cleanliness, location and facilities.
What I found fantastic regarding this site was that there is no financial gain to be had from the reviewers. Therefore you know that the review they have written is based on their true experience. I found it so satisfying to type in a hotel that I would have maybe gone for before only to be warned by scores of ex travelers to stay well away. I did feel a sense of relief that I had been spared a fortnight in a dirty hell hole.
Not only do reviewers send in their reviews. They also offer photos and video clips as well. I found these photos brilliant in helping me come to a decision regarding my choices. The photos are really honest and not enhanced by colouring like most brochure photos. Also whilst looking through these photos I was horrified to witness what some people had to endure on holiday. Filthy rooms and dangerous electrics.
Trip advisor has very handily organised all hotels in a particular location into order of their popularity. So if you like bodrum in turkey, you can type this in to the trip advisor search area and it will come up with the most popular hotel. Also the hotels popularity in the location will also give you an immediate indication of how nice the hotel is.
I would point out though, because I think it is of vital importance that one realises that you cannot please everyone. Therefore, you will be hard pushed to find a hotel that has totally positive reviews. There will always be one person who likes to have a little moan about the most unimportant things. I think when reading these reviews you do have to keep an open mind. If you take everyones reviews literally, then I think you will go a bit crazy. I found that I was getting irritated thinking I would never find any accomodation that was acceptable. Until I decided to relax a little and not take everyones reviews to heart.
I was so fortunate to find this site. I have now booked a fabulous five star hotel in Turkey. I am safe in the knowledge that is excellent in every way. I always have anxious nights just before a holiday, praying that my hard earned savings won't be wasted on a shack in the middle of nowhere. But this year I know that this hotel has been giving excellent reviews by past visitors. Also Ive been informed that the food is great, entertainment is good and private beach is fantastic. All providing me with a great peace of mind.
The reviews are also recent. The last review that was written for this hotel was in May. There are older reviews from as far back as 2007. This can prove a little confusing as many hotels have had major rejuvination in the last few years and therefore improved greatly. So photos from 2007 may be totally irrelevant to the accomodation now.
All in all I would say that I have found this site to be worth its weight in gold. It has certainly opened my eyes to the hovels that are out there. I have always been fortunate to stay in nice hotels. Granted some are nicer than others but I would be mortified if I had to stay in some of these hotels shown. It certainly made me more aware of the importance of researching where you are going. After all you are spending an absolute fortune, you want to enjoy it!!
I want to add another 5 stars to Tripadvisor.com. However, I do not want to bore you and repeat all that has been written in the previous reviews. I will try to write this as concise as possible.
Tripadvisor must be on of the most widely used travel forums online. It can be used in a number of ways. Most importantly, you can check out hotels prior to a travel. Travelers of all kinds have written a review, graded it according to location, cleanliness, value, rooms, service and sleep quality. Additionally they have posted private photos and video clips. You can use it to search after a specific hotel, or you can type in the city you are going to and find a suitable hotel. The hotels will then be listed according to the ranking they've received.
Similarly you may read about things to do, restaurants and soforth. These are also written by tripadvisor members, but is not as extensive as the section on the hotels.
A great aspect is that you may interact with other members. If you read a review, you may e-mail the author and ask specific questions. There are also forums where you may post your questions. The forums are divided into country, area, city etc. Each forum has a nominated expert. Sometimes this person is a local, other times someone who has traveled to the place in questions several times. Usually, you'll have an answer within a day. Because tripadvisor caters to members all over the world there is usually an answer by the time I wake up, as we are on different time zones. You may also search through the old strings on the forum, and learn more about the place you are considering going to.
I came across tripadvisor when we planned our honeymoon three years ago. Now I can't believe what I did without it. I use it for every single vacation we go on. I wanted to tip my father about it, but it turns out he has used it to choose hotels for his business trips for years. Who would have thought the old man was more up to date than his daughter?... No matter, it proves that tripadvisor is for everyone!
Ps. I always check out the hotels on tripadvisor, but I have never booked through one of the links that pop up (hotels.com, expedia.com, venere.com, booking.com).
I love the tripadvisor website and use it solely for finding somewhere to stay when I am planning a holiday.
My advise is to find the name of a hotel/bb that you are considering staying at and then type it into google. Then click the tripadvisor search result and have a look at INDEPENDENT traveller reviews. This is particularly useful as it cuts out all the misleading information and choreographed pictures that you find in the glossy travel brochures. Here you will find not only brutally honest opinions from people that have actually been there, but also candid traveller photos and even sometimes videos which show the "real" holiday you will be getting. I have never been let down by the site and recommend it to friends and colleagues when they are booking holidays. The site also shows where each hotel ranks amongst its peers in a given location.
The site also tells you what the average cost per night is at each hotel which is a useful tool when you are looking at narrowing down a search based on cost.
Often if you are searching in a given area you have get a list of the hotels, in order of independent review rating. You can also do the same for B&B's for those on a tighter budget.
The idea is perfect and despite it being owned by expedia, I have not seen any bias in the reviews published.
Another good aspect of the site is that the owner/managers of a hotel can respond to consumer comments on the site and often explain why faults were found or offer apologies for poor service. Often that is no help to whoever had to post the bad review in the first place, but it does show to anyone considering staying there that at least the management gives a damn about its paying customers.
If you are booking a holiday and want to avoid a future appearance on Watchdog or Holidays from Hell then I strongly urge you to use this site to get a real taste of what you are actually booking.
**This review was also posted by myself on the Ciao review website**
This site is really brilliant as it is easy too navigate and you just type in the name of your hotel or destination and it has great reviws on every detail. It provides information such as the area the hotel is in, the size and style of the rooms, the service, the food, the suitability of the hotel and also the things it has to do. I used it to give me information on the hotel I was stying in for my holiday last year when I went to majorca. The reviws were totally accurate. For example the review said that the hotel was really nice and well done but the rooms were on the small side and true enough they were. I cannot recomend this web site highly enough and would advise anyone to use it before booking a hotel as this website will allow you to pick the most suitable hotel for you as well as tell you what to expect from the hotel you are staying in. It means there should be no horrible surprises whlist your trying to relax.
This is one of those internet sites you can use selectively but also can get addicted to. I have used it both ways.
What is Tripadvisor.com?
Tripadvisor.com is an internet site that reviews holiday hotels and locations worldwide. It will have travellers from different countries putting forward their views and ratings on resorts and hotels. The opinions of of reviewers can help travellers to decide whether a particular resort/hotel is what they are looking for and/or worth the money. Travellers also post their own photos and videos - which are useful when juxtaposed with those that the resort/hotel put forward.
How to use Tripadvisor
When faced with the prospect of a holiday I can get over excited; I love going anywhere - be it down the road or across the world (haven't quite got that far yet) but I don't like staying in rubbish places. This is why I think 'Tripadvisor' was invented especially for me. This is how I use Tripadvisor:
I do discreet checks on a place (resort, hotel, proximity)before I part with my cash
I use the forums to find out detailed and up to date information about resorts, hotels, activities and location.
I review hotels that I have stayed at.
Checking a resort/hotel
The way I like to use my airmiles is to spend/part spend them on decent hotels whilst using budget airlines for the travel. I will decide the destination, check flight prices and times (not book yet), look for hotels in the area that I can afford through the airmiles site and that have availability. I then choose around three hotels and look for reviews on Tripadvisor. I read as many as possible, noting the aspects that I am particularly interested in (veggie/vegan options at breakfast, cleanliness, comfort of the beds, location and value for money). I cross reference problems that are described with other reviews e.g. If refurbishment (building work) has disturbed guests - when was this? Has is stopped recently? when I have chosen the hotel I then book the flights then the hotel - 'Jobs a gud un!' The thing is - you know it will be good.
My findings are always illuminating and often a hotel which looks good on paper (or pc screen) will not stand up under investigation. Many lovely looking hotels have had issues revealed through Tripadvisor such as: cockroaches, filthy cleaning habits, terrible customer service, repeated cases of food poisoning. It's a real life example of 'Don't judge a book by its cover'.
I also find wonderful things such as a lesser rated (stars) hotel may be nearer a diverse location of a city that I am interested in visiting or it may offer outstanding customer service or accomodate my need to eat vegan or healthy food.
Using a Tripadvsor Forum
Forums can be found for particular locations. They are frequented by 'experts' who know everything and are extremely helpful (and I suspect they are addicted to the site). I think one of the perks that they may get is that as frequent travellers to a particular place or resort they can get hotel discounts.They are also used by many holidaymakers who have been to the destination or are about to go.
To use the forum you can either just scan the questions and responses but if you wish to pose a question yourself, you will need to register which means to give your e mail address and have a password. It is a simple process. The forums usually cover a number of hotels/resorts in the area but also discuss local attractions, secret beauty spots, best modes of transport, up to date prices, the best/most effective way of booking, how to surmount difficulties.
Personal experience of the forum
I logged on to the Akumal forum because I had previously stayed at, and was going to stay again at, The Bahia Principe Resort on the Yukatan Peninsular in caribbean Mexico. I wanted to know what had changed in the seven years since my last visit. For several months, I logged on, read asked and even answered some questions. What I found out, however, made my actual holiday a breeze. I knew how much taxis should charge to certain destinations, I knew where to buy biodegradable sun cream, I knew where to go to find a beautiul lesser used lagoon which was full of fish to snorkel with. I knew exactly where to go to find turtles to swim with (where I did not have to pay). I had so much information under my belt - it almost felt that I was a local. This experience was invaluable.
It is possible also to meet up with people who you have communicated with on the forum once you are at the resort. I think the American and Canadian Tripadvisors were particularly keen on this.
On this review site, there is no payment for reviews but I would say that all reviewers are passionate in their art. The chance to share a wonderful place and experience with others so that they can enjoy a great holiday is an altruistic exercise. However, the chance to reveal defects, issues and horrors about a particular resort/hotel is an exercise in consumer power. Tripavisor is now well known and the combined pressure of many people writing good or bad things does have an effect.
I have even read of travellers entering hotels wearing Tripadvisor T shirts - to help ensure they get excellent customer service. I have never managed to find out where they can be purchased on the site though.
This is a fantastic site that can give you so much information to help you make the right choices both before and on your holiday. I use it EVERY time I go on holiday and it has helped me make informed judgements and spend my hard-earned cash wisely.
Like many people who travel I'm a huge fan of tripadvisor.com. It's one of the most useful resources around but needs to be used properly !
It sounds wonderful -totally impartial reviews by "real people". Well yes -mostly that *is* what the review section is-apart from the disgruntled ex-employees, rival hotels and of course the holidaymakers who paid a 2 star price but expect a deluxe experience. Some reviews need to be read with a large pinch of salt.
I've seen glowing reviews and stinking ones posted within days-about the exact same hotel-although often reading closely will give you clues-little hints like "the receptionist didn't instantly greet us but continued dealing with the guests ahead of us" Uh yep that isn't an issue to me but if I was full of self importance it might be. "We didn't win at the casino so the hotel was horrible" Mmmm would the hotel have been wonderful if they'd won I wonder ?
One of my favourites was a hotel at a remote beauty spot where a reviewer complained "The nearest McDonalds was 20 miles away" Sounds like a plus to me but this holidaymaker had different expectations.
That's the point we all have different expectations and no review will ever be completely objective.
All that aside if you can interpret the reviews you'll generally get a good idea of what to expect-and what to pay.
If there are twenty good reviews and two bad ones I'll read both types and weigh it up-I wouldn't let a single bad review sway me....and so far that strategy has served me well -all over North America and also in the UK and Europe.
Tripadvisor isn't just about hotels though -it's what it is best known for and many people look no further but the forums are an absolute treasure trove of useful information and tips which will often enhance your visit to a new destination.
Tripadvisor as the advert (almost) says "Don't leave home without (reading) it !!
What can I say; apart from Tripadvisor is a brilliant website! I came across the website a few years ago when I was looking for travel advice for my trip to New York/Las Vegas and LA. I really wanted to find out some advice on hotels, things to do etc before booking, and I stumbled upon Tripadvisor.
**What's so great about Tripadvisor**
Tripadvisor.com is a website where you can find reviews of places people have stayed, worldwide or just locally.
If you are about to book a trip, and your not quite sure on the hotel, you an always rely on Tripadvisor to give you the answer. People post their opinions of hotels, things to do, and information on the local area. Before booking a trip, I always make sure I have done my research using this website before booking.
You can also log onto the Tripadvisor forum. You will find most areas have a forum dedicated to it, with members from that area who use their spare time helping others plan their holiday. I have posted several threads on the forums, and I have always had a very friendly response, and people going out their way to help.
Every hotel I have looked up, I have always found it on there, and it there have always been at least one review. So whatever hotel you are booking, look it up on here first, 9 nines out of 10 somebody would of posted a review.
The website is very simple to use, and within seconds, you are reading other peoples opinions on hotels, restaurants, things to do, cruises!!
You can also find out the best deals on hotels, and flights, and plan the perfect trip.
I really don't have a bad thing to say about this website. It's full of information, and with so many members, you will always find the answer to your question.
I have never been on a trip, and not researched it using this website beforehand.
Tripadvisor.com is a great independant travel site where you can get loads of advice on any trips you have planned and also read travellers reviews on locations, hotels and destinations as well as activities available in different resorts.
The site itself is really well set out and it has a really good search engine which allows you to find the information that you need when either planning your holiday or travelling experience or just looking for ideas. The site is very easy to navigate you can either type in what you are looking for or you can click on theworld map to go to the region you are interested in and then narrow it down to the specific country.
The advice available is endless with information broken down into before your go, destinations to visit as well as lots of advice about the customs of the country and what are the best sights to visit, it is also useful as a way to checking out the hotel deals that are available and how to budget for your trip.
I find the quality of the reviews to be good and there are plenty to read so you can filter out what you are looking for and also get a balanced view.
This is a great travel site and one well worth checking out.
Tripadvisor is a fantastic travel website. It is my one stop shop when I am booking a hotel, whether it is in the UK or abroad.
Tripadvisor has the following sections:
o Hotel & accommodation
o Things to do
o Traveller photos and videos
I have to confess that I use it mostly for accommodation and the forums. I tend to pretty much ignore the rest of the site!
The site offers unbiased reviews on hotels/accommodation and rates them in order of ratings and popularity. I have to say I think it is the only way to find honest opinions on a potential hotel. People point out negatives and positives about a place and these tend to be spot on. When you click on to a hotel there is usually a section that tells you the average price for a room and lets you compare the price of a room with lots of different providers.
The forum is also excellent as there are many knowledgeable people who give some really good information. There are experts for each area/country/city and these people ensure information is accurate.
I actually found my wedding planner on the Barcelona travel forum. I also received some really good information re: wedding venues and was also to chat to people who were planning their wedding there.
Another valuable piece of information I found was on the Singapore forum. I wanted to spend 3 days there and then 3 days somewhere else. I was unaware that Kuala Lumpur was so close to Singapore. With advice from other people, I got a bus website and realised it was only a 5 hour bus journey and was do-able. This enhanced my trip as I was able to see 2 popular cities in a week.
I have no doubt the other sections are excellent as well and wouldn't hesitate to consult them also.
Well another holiday related review...
I found tripadvisor by mistake and strangely a lot of my friends have never heard of it. Thought I'd spread the word as its a fantastic tool to help you research before your hols (if you are lucky enough to have one coming up!)
So what is it? Tripadvisor calls it's self a travel forum. It'sa huge site with lots of different features, so I'll try to summarise the main features below.
'Unbiased' Hotel Reviews
For me, this is by far the most helpful part. Tripadvisor seems to have listed almost every hotel in the world, and invites people to write in and review them. The reviews tend to be short, and have a written part followed by a mark out of 5. It's a bit like a 'Mini Ciao' for hotels! Amazingly, there are so many reviews, people seem very keen and willing to share their experiences. They list all types of accommodation from Luxury 5 star mega hotels in Hong Kong to Self Catering Accommodation in Reykjavik to Simple B+B's in Great Yarmouth (seriously!) Its great, as you really get a feel for what the hotels are like. Its interesting to see how different people complain or like differnet things. You have to read all the reviews by different people to get a true feeling of what the place is like. Much like Ciao, people tend to complain about specific problems they had on their stay than actually review the hotel. But if there a read a few reviews, you usually get a good overview. Americans tend to complain more, especially about the small size of European hotel rooms! Anyway, its great. If you have a particular hotel you want to find, just write the name in the 'search' box at the top. You will be provided with a list of similar named hotels, and just click on the correct one. So many people are writing in that there always seems to be up to date reviews for most hotels.
The site claims to have listed over 200,000 hotels!
Tripadvisor seems to be a forum on almost every tourist spot worldwide. It works much like any other forums on other sites - People write in with questions or asking for general advice, and other members write replies. Im heading to Nevada in August (it's gonna be HOT!) and found it difficult to plan my route. I therefore posted a question on Tripadvisor's Nevada forum and got about 10 replies within a day expalining what I should do! People had properly researched my question and given comprehensive replies! Amazing. Just to show how helpful people are, I've copied one of the replies...
' I think you are definitely doing your things in the right order. Based on this and according to Mapquest, you're looking at driving as follows:
* LV - Bryce, 4h12m, 262 miles
* Bryce - GC (North Rim), 3h25m,. 158 miles
* GC - Zion, 2h35m, 121 miles
* Zion - LV, 2h32m, 160 miles
None of these drives are particularly long (the first being the longest so good to get that one over with).
I would advise you leave LV early on Day 1 rather than late. That way you can see Bryce in the afternoon and see the sunset there. Then 1 night in Bryce will probably be enough.
I have only been to the South Rim so can't advise on how long you need there. If you could keep 2 nights for Zion then that would give you time to see quite a bit of the park and do a couple of walks. If you aren't interested in doing any walks then 1 night in Zion may do if you'd rather save one of your nights for the Grand Canyon.
If you need to be back at LV for 5ish then you can easily do that by leaving Zion after lunch.
Oh, and rather than worry about how busy Vegas will be, I'd prepare more for how hot it will be (over 100 degrees probably).
Have a great trip and credit to you for exploring some of the amazing Southwest while in Vegas. I love Vegas but a couple of days is enough for me.'
Crazy that people are so helpful, and I got lots of replies like that! Brilliant. (Im taking the advice above, seemed to be the best one offered)
This section includes 'Tips and secrets from real travelers.' People write in lists of must-do (and must-avoid) attractions, restaurants and hotels in a particular place. There are hundreds, and there is likely to be one for the palce you are travelling to. The site is currently awarding cash prizes ($250 top prize) to people who write the best go-lists. Recently published go lists include;
- Wrigleyville in a Weekend
- Los Angeles Weekend:Touring Tinsel Town
- Hanging in Halifax. Discovering Nova Scotia's capital
Type in Amsterdam for examlpe and you will get a whole host of travel info for the city. Most of it is the same information mentioned above, but listed in a coherent way. It will show all the reviewed Amsterdam hotels (currenltly 302!) in order of ratings (ie best rated to worst rated). In addition you can get maps, Amsterdam related forums and a breif overview of the city.
This is quite a useful facility. If you bring up the page for a particular hotel, it can compare room rates offered by different online sites. Sites compared include
That said it is almost always cheaper to book directly through the hotel's own websites in my experience. Still a good facility.
Yes access to this great resource is totally free! You only have to register if you want to contribute to the forums (and that is free too). Otherwise you can just go straight ot the site and start planning your dream holiday! There are lots of adverts and sponsored links throughout the site, which I guess is needed to keep it free.
DEALS / PACKAGES
There are many travel deals offered on the site, but to be honest, I havent really looked into how good they are. Most tend to be for US residents, although more and more I've noted UK based deals. Deals include hotel rates, flights and packages. Tripadvisor has recenlty introduced international editions (see end of the reivew for differnet addresses) and the UK site will likely become more tailored to UK needs!
The site is unfortunately a little difficult to navigate and it was only after lots of use that I understood how to use it and the many extra features. That said, if you want to use it to check a hotel review, it is extremely simple.
WRITE YOUR OWN REVIEWS!
I think its only fair to write some of your own reviews and add to the site if you are using other people's information! I have tried to give some advice to people on the 'London forum' but there seem to be much more knowledgable people than me who give much better answers! I have written plenty of hotel reviews though. Only takes about 5 min to do.
Have a look before you book!
Ill try to write a review on Nevada on my return!
www.tripadvisor.co.uk (UK edition)
www.tripadvisor.com (international / USA)
Dan x (please note - I also publish as dan_ep on Ciao)
I first discovered the website Tripadvisor about a year and a half ago, while looking for a hotel in NYC (despite having lived there for three years, I had very little knowledge about the hotels). I was leery as I knew that hotels in the city were generally overpriced and small, but that comes with the territory in many cities. I was determined to find something that wasn't one of the dingier chains in midtown, but also wouldn't break the bank. Using Tripadvisor, I found a lovely, charming hotel that was too small to be listed on larger corporate travel sites, but was rated highly on Tripadvisor.
Searching for a hotel online can be deceptively easy. When using one of the larger travel sites, they often encourage you to book your hotel and flights together, often offering a significant savings (by their calculations). The hotels most of these sites initially offer are starred "such and such (that site) recommends", which would lead you to assume that maybe this is based on some sort of good reputation the hotel holds. This is where I discovered Tripadvisor - when I decided to look up a few of the suggested hotels, reviews from this site began popping up.
The headline that greets you on the site is "Unbiased reviews of hotels, resorts, vacations." TripAdvisor is largely consumer ratings driven. It has active forums for most worldwide destinations, as well as the personal reviews of travellers on everything from hotels to visitor attractions and restaurants, etc. The main focus of the site does seem to be the hotel reviews, despite the plethora of other information. Hotels are ranked according to their on site popularity, however you can also search for specific dates and price ranges.
Many sites give consumer ratings of the hotels they offer, but so far Tripadvisor is the one I keep coming back to, as
a. It is updated regularly by its' reviewers
b. It is user friendly, despite the search engine being a bit finicky about spelling
c. The extensive and numerous reviews far outnumber any other site I have found
The hotels also have a chance to respond to any complaints or negative rates directly to the person reviewing, which to me is more amusing than helpful or indicative of hotel quality. There is quite a discrepancy, I have found, between what hotels are rated on some websites, and whether they live up to that star rating in reality. For instance, many hotels which Travelocity or Expedia put forth as four star are in reality more like three star, and so on, at least if you prefer to go by customer satisfaction, as opposed to the hotel's own word/ratings that were bestowed years ago.
TripAdvisor reflects overall satisfaction, although it does seem to err on the side of the positive reviews. What I mean is, if ten people rave about a hotel, and one had a rat-ridden nightmare experience, that one person's opinion does not seem to affect the overall rating any more than a positive review would. This does mean you are better off reading several reviews of a hotel if you are at all picky, like me (ahem). In general, however, if a place is a dive, the overall reviews will reflect that, or if it is wonderful, just the same.
As for the hotels that the site lists, they seem generally quite extensive, it is rare that I have referenced one from another site that was not listed on Tripadvisor. On the flip side, several of the more popular hotels on Tripadvisor tend to be smaller, private hotels that can only be booked directly with the hotel itself. In this day and age that might seem an extra effort to some, but for me it is another perk of the site that it highlights more unique hotels (it also lists b&b's, guest houses, etc., seperately), that other sites overlook.
Also worth noting, many hotels appear on Tripadvisor which might not initially come up on other sites, but they are there if you do a specific search for them. I am assuming this is to do with size/the money each hotel brings into the larger sites.
When searching for a hotel, you can either search by:
a. city only
b. by neighborhood within that city (very helpful for larger cities)
c. date specific/price specific search
In my experience, the date searches are partly a waste of time as Tripadvisor merely links to other sites to book the hotels, and rarely do the dates and prices seem to match up. It is helpful to know the average price of a hotel, but this does not factor in seasonal fluctuations, so I would not rely on Tripavisor for accurate booking information. However, it does link to half a dozen or so other travel booking sites, some of which will check your dates simply by clicking once from Tripadvisor (not all of them have this function, and require you to re-enter your dates.)
The main annoyance I have is with the search engine, which requires correct spelling and does not offer any aid when you spell something wrong, even in an obvious way like missing a letter out. This is particularly annoying when you are looking for a specific hotel that has a convoluted spelling, and usually leads me to just go find it under the hotel list (the site comes up with the top rated hotels automatically when you do a city only search).
The reviews: Tripadvisor users must register to write a review, and their reviews can then be rated for helpfulness by the reader. The reviews range from a few sentences to homages to entire cities. Many reviewers attach photos, which is always a nice way to see what a place really looks like. I submitted one review, and I believe it took a day or so to show up, although it does not seem they do any major editing. Tripadvisor also links at the bottom of each hotel if it is listed in travel publications such as Frommer's or Fodor's, which is another helpful function.
Other functions of the site include the forums and the city overviews, including Top Ten (and more) attractions, many with user reviews. This feature is also extremely helpful, many forums seem to have frequent posts by residents of the cities themselves offering helpful advice on any number of subjects, whether it be safety tips for women travelling alone, or hotel and restaurant recommendations. It is not unusual to find tourists checking into the forums with updates whilst on their holidays. I would not call it a community as such where the reviews are concerned, but the city forums seem very active.
As mentioned earlier, Tripadvisor does offer a flight search option as well but this merely links to other websites. I would say when it comes to actually booking trips, Tripadvisor is really just a portal, but as it's name suggests it is very useful in terms of decision making. In general I would say when booking a hotel, check a few different sites for prices, including the hotel's own sites, which are often competitive and offer deals.
In conclusion, I find Tripadvisor is an indispensable aid for travel. Personal reviews are so helpful, in telling you what kind of a neighbourhood the hotel is in, whether the beds are rock hard, super mushy, or just right, how close it really is to the attractions, restaurants, etc., and whether the concierge/staff are helpful or indifferent. You simply will not get this much candid information on a corporate run travel site. I have used Tripadvisor to help choose hotels several times now, always with very pleasing results. In the end, the hotel is merely where you lay your head, but I think it's worthwhile to try and make the whole trip as enjoyable as possible, and Tripadvisor is the first place I look to when I know I'm going away.
Tripadvisor.co.uk also has sites for the U.S., Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France, although any travel destination can be researched from the U.K. site.
Prior to the widespread use of the internet worldwide, it used to be that if you wanted to travel to a hotel, you had to rely on word of mouth or the Travel Trade Gazetteer. Not so any more. Now, there are that many review sites offering information on hotels, including consumer sites such as Dooyoo, and Web Channels such as Expedia.co.uk, which have provision for guest comments and rating.
I have found that while Dooyoo and other sites like it, have their strengths in terms of quantity of reviews in some categories, unfortunately, do not have the volume of contributions about individual hotels for any consumer to seek reassurance that a hotel can consistently offer a level of customer service consistent with the expectation. Enter www.tripadvisor.com.
TripAdvisor is in fact owned by Expedia.com. They currently hold over 4 million independent reviews on over 200,000 hotels worldwide. While even that latter number is a drop in the ocean compared to the actual number of hotels worldwide, I have never had a situation where I have found a hotel on line, and cannot find it referenced within TripAdvisor.
Although I have used Tripadvisor in the past, I have used it most recently earlier this year when planning my holiday to California. We planned a five day break in San Francisco, followed by a five day tour stopping in 2-3 other hotels along the way.
My first dabblings with Tripadvisor were simply to check on the average star rating and number of comments for a particular hotel, after I had found a hotel (and a rate!) I was interested in via any of the Web distribution channels such as Laterooms.com; Travelocity etc. While the star rating is cumulative, the reviews are shown in date order beginning with the most recent and once you have clicked the title of the first review, the others follow on and are therefore very easy to read. Most reviews are quite short, perhaps one paragraph or two, while the occasional writer will write something that are longer, but nothing like the 2000 word epics from other sites.
In my opinion, the overall reviewers' star ratings needs to be read in conjunction with the volume of reviews submitted to gain a fair balance. I find it is hard to find many hotels with more that 4 reviewer stars (in my price range!), although there is always the occasional gem. Hotels are categorised geographically, and I particularly like to see the ranking of the hotel, compared to other hotels in that town. You can then search all the properties to quickly see the average room rate paid, average reviewer star rating and a snapshot of the most recent feedback for all other hotels in the area.
(Note: The reviewer star rating is not the same as the official hotel class, it is a measure based on the reviewer's experiences, value for money, cleanliness, service etc!)
This feature is particularly useful, as I find I am always keen to find out which hotels are rated the highest by other guests, so I can then chase rates for those hotels instead (or just look at their sites and become jealous, if I realise they are way over budget!)
It is worth bearing in mind that the average price is simply a guide. If you are canny enough in seeking out a bargain, then you can often beat this still. For example I settled on a 4/5 star property in SF, with a decent rating on TripAdvisor although only ranked 71 out of nearly 300 hotels in the area. Although Tripadvisor's average rate was £130, we managed to get two rooms for £95 a night per room (tip: for accommodation abroad, get a holiday/citybreak brochure such as Virgin or BA holidays, and if you do not book flights, then you can often get the "Extra Night" hotel price, which are typically the lowest available rates on the market. We saved over £200 compared to the cheapest websites by doing this, for the same hotel).
You cannot book accommodation directly with TripAdvisor, and therefore it is necessary to keep switching sites as you find properties which might meet your requirements. The QUICKCHECK functionality allows you to check the rates for the major web channels from the TripAdvisor site, simply by opening additional windows for you e.g. hotels.com; expedia.com; opodo.com etc. Depending on the property, this may mean you can check 6-8 different websites more easily than completing all the search information on every single site.
I have found TripAdvisor has stopped me from making some potentially poor choices too. I had found some great rates via the web channels and shared them with my sister, who I was travelling with. I always check out the hotel websites too, and we both loved a particular group of boutique hotels across SF. In fact, when I went on TripAdvisor, while the feedback was very mixed between the very good and the appallingly bad, there was just too much negative and recent feedback for us to risk it. Yet their website; and any brochure would depict a wonderful property. That said you cannot please all the people all the time - shortly after we booked our hotel, I read an extremely poor review on our hotel which was described as jaded. (It was more traditional than contemporary, but it was absolutely stunning!)
Reviewers have the ability to post their own pictures on the site, and I find that most reviewers do not bother to do this, but those who do post loads. Again, this is a useful way to get a different angle from the professional website photographs.
Hotel owners can contribute to the site, although their comments are clearly shown. For example if they receive a particularly bad review and have taken action to remedy the complaint then this would be a valid thing for them to do. As I work for a national chain, I can confirm that hotel managers definitely read the feedback on TripAdvisor, although some feedback might be beyond their control e.g. parking issues, unattractive location etc).
The site is actually quite overloaded with other information. For example, for any particular region, there are tabs for dining, deals, day trips, weekend getaways (from the area you are researching..!) I find that for these kind of things, there is almost too much information. For example SF has nearly 2500 restaurants listed. It seems fruitless to even try and find one, as they can only be sorted by reviewer popularity or alphabetically (not cuisine even) and for that I feel a good guidebook would be better. However, it is easy to use tripadvisor to research the particular areas you are interested in, and I am sure, for many, some of the reviews on the actual destinations are as interesting and as useful as the hotel feedback itself.
To contribute to the site, you have to provide minimal information e.g. name, postcode and email address. I have also joined and have now started submitting my own reviews and comments on the hotels I have stayed in most recently. I have not seen any obvious signs of abuse on the site, but there is always the small risk that either a customer with a vendetta, or even a struggling hotelier could skew their feedback scores up or down to suit their own agenda. The reviews I write on there are much more condensed, perhaps three or four short paragraphs covering the major aspects of the hotel, such as cleanliness, service, food and location
Overall, wherever you are booking a hotel, I would say that a quick visit to tripadvisor.com for some independent feedback from ex guests is essential.
Recommended. (Dooyoo bug still there, saying no when I selected YES!)