How travel decisions can sometimes be based on incomplete information

Trip Advisor is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The global review site started out life above a Pizza shop called Kosta’s in Needham, Massachusetts in February, 2000. It is a great site without question and I must admit that I have started contributing to it in recent times as I realised, belatedly, that I had a lot to contribute given the amount of travelling I do (and have done). What prompted me to write today’s blog post however was a small but significant revelation that appeared as part of a list of 15 things that people perhaps don’t know about Trip Advisor and which appeared in one of the Irish national broadsheets and that was that the average rating that contributors to Trip Advisor give to establishments (there are more reviews of restaurants than hotels nowadays) was more than 4 out of 5 ‘bubbles’ as Trip Advisor refers to its rating system. Now, when you think about that for a moment — and this is just my interpretation of that factoid — it suggests that people who place reviews on Trip Advisor tend to do so for places in which they’ve had a nice experience, further implying that the bad places tend to get more of a free pass. It also reinforces the notion that many people tend not to complain and just ‘grin and bear it’ — thus denying the rest of us the benefit of their negative experience! There may well be other reasons (or interpretations) for this fact but what if it is true? It means that whilst you can certainly reply on the Trip Advisor reviews to select some place that’s nice/suitable/appropriate, it won’t necessarily help you to avoid some of the places that are NOT reviewed on the site. Now whilst I am assuming that many people use Trip Advisor as a kind of travel bible and limit themselves to hotels, restaurants and whatever that are reviewed on the site it still means that there must be other people who don’t. My point? Well my point is that if even the most sophisticated travel review site in the world can’t provide travellers with an accurate and comprehensive overview of what travellers are likely to find in any given tourist spot around the world, what resource can travellers rely on? They’re called travel agents and if you haven’t used one for a while, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find!

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