In today’s social-media-savvy society we’re more often reliant on the opinions of others; influencers; what’s hot and what’s not; where to go; what to wear and views of other’s experiences. Some may want to be part of the “it” crowd whilst others, are just time poor and prefer to fast track any research by filtering based on customer reviews, especially when it comes to travelling.
When it comes to travelling, I like to keep an open mind and don’t just remove a place from my short-list just because it doesn’t have a 5-star rating.
Whether searching on TripAdvisor, Booking.com or Airbnb, here’s some tips for how to best search for best results:
1. Keep an open mind. Don’t just search for 5-star or Superhost status
Booking sites are making it harder for hosts to reach elite status and normally this is based on a time period, number of bookings and obtaining 5-stars more often than not. I say why not give people a fair go…I mean 4/5 (even 3/5) is a pass at university so why not when travelling? Plus, it’s important to note that any newly listed properties may not have had the time (or number of bookings) to reach a 5-star average yet.
2. Look for reviews from similar travellers to you
If possible search for the type of traveller you are – single, coupled, family, business. Whilst we all have our holiday preferences, this is one way to find the closest match to you (and possibly your needs) in a faster way.
3. Read reviews from recent travellers – good and bad ones
I like to start with the lower ranked ones and take a read. Were guests complaining about things that may have been avoided if they did their own homework?
“Air-conditioning would have been great” (even though the listing clearly states there isn’t aircon) and see if there is a background to their story which may have caused additional frustrations eg: “after missing our flight…” Take a read to ensure their review covers the basics like service, cleanliness and location or does it just focus on one element skewing their whole rating like “the bed was hard”.
4. Before reading reviews, be sure of your own accommodation “must-haves”
Depending on the duration or location of my destination, these may vary slightly but common qualities I look for:
Location – is it central? How easily is it accessible via transport and after hours? You may compromise on location if it’s close to a train station and at a reduced rate to something more central.
- Free Internet – especially important for me internationally. Domestic only if travelling for work with my computer.
- Cleanliness and aesthetics – it may be an old building with dated furniture and wallpaper yet very clean – work out what is important to you.
- You may find the elements important to you would have deemed a bad review 5-stars in your eyes.
5. Look at the responses from the owner or establishment
If there’s a bad review – what public response was given? It’s easy to see those who sounds genuinely sorry – firstly they apologise, they may have mentioned improvements they’ve since made or compensation they offered the traveller. It’s normally not hard to read the personalised, genuine responses rather than a standard automated response like “thank you for your review, we apologise for any inconvenience and will endeavour to make improvements so this doesn’t happen again” – sound all too familiar?
At the end of the day, they are just reviews! Take them or leave them but we have all had bad experiences and are more often then not keen to complain about the bad stuff than praise the good!