Why I no longer trust review sites and will use a travel agent

Read any Facebook stream and you will see friends and colleagues urging you to look at review sites when you’re planning a holiday. It is rare, very rare, that they suggest entrusting your holiday plans in the hands of a travel agent.

As a frequent traveller, I love seeing new places when I’m not working. But after years of ‘doing it myself’, I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer trust the content of review sites.

Firstly, these reviews are subjective. What I look for in a hotel might (and probably is) very different to what another business or leisure traveller from elsewhere in the UK or indeed the world looks for. While these review sites attempt to match one to a similar demographic, just because an old school friend on Facebook gave a hotel a five-star rating, doesn’t mean I’ll have the same perspective.

If I’m very busy, I’ll only read the most recent reviews. If they aren’t good, I won’t book, and vice versa. If I’m short on time, I may actually book something I’ll be disappointed with when I arrive as a result.

I also used to have a tendency to focus mainly on the very best and worst reviews which may not be a true reflection of the property. And what if the property has undergone refurbishment? Reading an old review prior to that refurb may put you off booking the property, but if you booked it now, you would be very pleased with your choice.

Just last week, a local hotel owner told me about a member of staff who posted a fake review. TripAdvisor identified the fraud and they were punished. He claimed the property could either be removed from the site or accept a drop of 10 places in the ranking!

Needless to say, the member of staff was dismissed, but through no fault of the owner or other members of staff, their ranking took a considerable hit and this could inadvertently distort someone’s opinion of their property when they’re looking to book.

Lastly, I find TripAdvisor  tricky to navigate, too commercially focused and time consuming. In my business, time is precious so having an expert travel consultant on hand to take the guesswork of finding a property that meets my needs sounds like heaven.

I ended up completing my 20-room booking with a MICE travel agent that recommended a hotel I had never heard of, at a considerable saving than had I booked online.

Would love to hear your views on this topic. Connect with me on LinkedIn or contact me here.