Online reviews have been around a long time. We look for online reviews for everything from new sneakers to new mattresses to new electronics to cars. And travel is no exception. It’s a rare traveler who doesn’t check online reviews for hotel, resort, restaurant and activity information. The travel review phenomena may have escalated with the creation of TripAdvisor in 2000 but now most every travel provider is under scrutiny with ratings like Google Reviews. This is all good news for consumers, but the ever-present question is, how do you know which reviews to trust? Have competitors added a negative review to combat their rival and has an establishment added a good review to make themselves sound best? Here are a few ways to minimize the risk of believing fake travel reviews.
1. Check the reviewer’s profile and also conduct an online search for that person. Real reviewers have a number of previous reviews and if so, they’re likely legit. When you Google that reviewer, you may find they have a vested interest in that company or industry.
2. Look for reviews that include pictures. It’s easier to write fake text reviews. When pictures are included, it takes more time and effort so it’s less likely that review is a phony.
3. Be cautious of reviews that come across as marketing-spin or offer extreme opinions. For instance, disregard those that are too positive or too critical. One practice is to ignore the most positive reviews and the most critical reviews and then focus on the mid-range reviews. Those 3-star ratings can offer more information and provide more balanced opinions.
4. Check reviews in multiple places. For travel reviews, check places like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking.com, Trust Pilot and Google Reviews. Fakespot is a site that analyzes reviews and returns a grade based on how likely the review is authentic. Though the site covers a variety of product reviews, for travel, it focuses on TripAdvisor.
5. Watch for travel providers who offer rewards to reviewers who give positive comments.
6. Be wary of critiques that are dated within the same week.
7. Reviews that give specific details are apt to be authentic. Be skeptical of those that are brief and say things like, “Very good place. Will return to.”
8. Some sites organize all the good reviews together at the top of the page. Ensure you scroll down the page to find the mid-range and lowest reviews.
It’s definitely wise to check reviews for the places and services you’ll use on vacation. Just don’t be too trusting. Fake travel reviews are common. A touch of cynicism goes a long way to having a great travel experience.
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