Monday, July 9, 2007

Do you trust TripAdvisor's reviews?

Here's a travel post. I've been meaning to write about this article in the Journal on how accurate TripAdvisor is in its reviews (free WSJ Digg link). A good example from the story:

But on a trip in January my family discovered that some people who write reviews on are thrilled to pay $280 to spend the night next to an eight-lane highway. Ranked on the Web site as the No. 1 property in Carlsbad, Calif. -- ahead of the Four Seasons Aviara and the famous La Costa spa -- the West Inn & Suites wasn't only far from the center of the quaint oceanside town, it was also next to a working train track with a view of a large power plant.
The article goes on to talk about how important it is to study each review and the reviewer who wrote it. Carefully look at reviews that differ greatly from the average review given. Check out the reviewer to see if she is a frequent review writer, and the types of reviews she gives. Do this by clicking on the reviewer's name to see a list of her reviews. It's possible to even send her a message through the site. Get to a reviewer's profile page by going to

Having lived in New York for many years, my favorite quote in the article was this:
The reviewer's hometown can count even within the U.S. Bob McDevitt (whose screen name is Cap10Bob), doesn't believe anything written by a New Yorker. The 58-year-old salesman from Boston says "people from there wouldn't like anything anyway."
I haven't used TripAdvisor to plan a vacation, but I have been comparing the reviews on it to my own experiences (kind of like Monday morning quarterbacking). The reviews of the hotel where I've stayed in Aruba were pretty accurate. A few years ago I spent some time in Argentina and after reading the reviews of the hotels I stayed in, I'd say they were also on target.

The article also recommends some other sites to use to get reviews, including,,, and For the Caribbean, I personally like