Navigating travel and review websites for best results

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There are many travel websites that recommend, review, or act as portals for travel reservations. It is difficult to know, if what you are purchasing, is really what you want. There is always the possibility that what believe you reserve, may not be what you get. The following tips will help you navigate the digital world of travel booking and review sites, for the best possible outcomes.

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5.) Read Reviews with a Critical Mind

The most helpful class I ever took in college was critical thinking. That is exactly what I use when reading reviews on travel websites. When assessing visitor’s recommendations or negative experiences, look for consistent comments amongst numerical ratings–in other words, read between the lines. If everyone in the 2 star page talks about a stench, it is probably true.

Look for consensus amongst ratings. The staff was friendly and punctual, the beds were clean, the rooms were quiet. And then assess the outliers. “When I arrived, the staff didn’t greet me as I should have been. The bar didn’t serve the kind of vodka I liked.” These are subjective views of the guest. Statements likes these are not objective, and that is the outlier. You want reviews that can divorce themselves from feeling as if the place personally offended them.

I recently read one review of a hotel, where the visitor gave a poor rating based on the restaurant’s bar atmosphere. I always rate them separately, unless it is a resort. Eating and sleeping are two different things completely.

Also, don’t gloss over in-depth reviews, those are the ones you want to read. These informed writings will give you the best look into what you are looking to purchase or reserve. The one star, short review, that reads “Room was too cold,” is not the one you want to use as your guide. There were probably other factors that affected their decision to give one star or they don’t understand the rating system.

Be informed, use informed reviews.

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4.) Start at the Bottom First

I always reverse the reviews so I see the worst initially. I look at one star first, and work my way up to five. If they have a lot of one and two star reviews, I automatically move on. Again, look for consistency, are all the bad reviews the same complaints and critiques?

If the reviews below three stars are few in proportion to the total they have received, I move on to three, four, and five-star pages.

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3.) Dates of Comments

Look for trends based on dates. When reading through the reviews, did the comments tend to get better after a certain year? Maybe the destination had renovations done, and now the experience is more pleasant. Or, did it change management, which prompted more complaints after that date.

Those older, five and four star reviews can skew the numbers. Even if they have received lower ratings in the past few months, if they were solid on numbers for years, it will take a while for their ratings to drop. Read the dates.

Follow trends to help you.

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2.) Stayed informed, shop around

Everyone has their favorite site that they shop from, or use to get reviews. It is best to shop around from site to site, to make sure that you are getting the full picture. Some websites have a tendency to attract younger individuals. Those places that are attractive to a young millennial, might not be to a family of four in their thirties. So be smart and know what demographic each website is catering to. Lets face it, certain daytime television’s commercial breaks advertising denture adhesion and stool softening medication, isn’t targeting a young audience. So why follow a travel website that looks like your children are the target audience? You just wouldn’t do that.

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1.) Blogs are great, but…

I know, I know, this is a blog. I get it. How ironic. But here is the thing, blogs are based in opinions and perspectives. They are not chained by the same journalistic ethics of magazines and newspapers. Also, people view the world through different lenses, and that might not match yours.

What am I getting at? Read multiple sources before you travel to some obscure place or country. Don’t just use blogs to direct you up that hiking trail. You might end up miles out of your way, to get to the same spot that could have been only a half mile trip. Trust me on this one, I know from personal experience.

Use blogs as a tool, along with other sources.

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Stay informed. Read reviews. Use common sense. And, above all else, read a mix of blogs, review sites, and travel magazines. There is a reason these publications stay in business; they get it right. So, plan your vacation, don’t let your vacation unexpectedly plan your experiences.

David Jester

About David Jester

David Jester lives in the Midcoast region of Maine. He received a masters degree in American and New England Studies from the University of Maine. David is a full-time firefighter/paramedic and writer, who maintains another blog www.firefighterwithapen.com. He travels the world, but chooses locales that many would never consider for vacation. The world is full of many different and unique places, why not see them all?