I’m going to talk about something we have all heard of and most probably all used at some point or other. The online community I have chosen is TripAdvisor, an American website which focuses content on travel. The website enables users to provide reviews about anything travel-related as well as having online forums. Many hotels or restaurants read their own reviews to ensure they improve their facilities.
The website, which was founded in 2000, has over 60 million users and 170 million reviews. TripAdvisor is used primarily by people to access reviews on places to visit around the world. The forums on the website, however, also enable users to ask questions in general about the country. For example, one thread states ‘I will be in Germany next month for a couple of weeks and would like to know the best and least expensive way to be able to call back to the US. How can I do this?’. Other users then suggested where to buy SIM cards and which carriers to use. The benefits of using TripAdvisor during the planning stages of taking a trip are endless. Many travellers use the website and the forum to select where to visit, which sites to see and where to stay or eat.
TripAdvisor ensures that all comments go through a verification process to detect fraudulent or suspicious activity. However this does not always prevent these kinds of comments from going through. It has emerged that some hotels and restaurants gave themselves good reviews in order to gain business. Other hotels have been condemned for bribing visitors to write positive reviews. The ASA (UK Advertising Standards Authority) ordered TripAdvisor to remove their slogan from their British site which previously read “reviews you can trust” due to these allegations. TripAdvisor, in the UK, then changed their slogan to “reviews from our community”.
Therefore despite TripAdvisor being extremely beneficial for travellers, caution should always be taken when reading reviews or forum threads as accuracy and honesty cannot always be guaranteed.
Have you used TripAdvisor before? When you use the website, do you personally take caution against the reviews? This is not something which always comes to mind when planning a trip.