Why just take travelling advice from your mates when there are millions of reviews about the best places to stay, see and eat in every corner of the world?
TripAdvisor pegs itself as the world’s largest travel site, and with 75 million reviews and counting, who are we to argue?
While the site has also now branched off into displaying hotel rates and destination guides, at its core TripAdvisor is still the ultimate traveller advice line, compiling millions of reviews of places to stay, see and eat into rankings by destination.
TripAdvisor is a great resource for checking out whether that hotel in Koh Samui is really a five star luxury getaway or actually hasn’t been renovated since 1976 and backs onto a swamp.
Whether it is for getting ideas about the best places to stay or top things to do in a destination, or checking the reviews to confirm that your dream hotel is just that, there is something for pretty much everyone on TripAdvisor.
Start by entering your destination and TripAdvisor will rank the top hotels, bed and breakfast and ‘other accommodation’ types like hostels, based on the reviews of your fellow travelers.
Don’t worry, it isn’t just the super expensive hotels that take out the top spots – Dave’s Straw Hat Inn is ranked the second best place to stay in Boracay with rooms starting from just $20 per night.
TripAdvisor’s ‘reviews at a glance’ function will also give you a brief overview of the top five phrases travelers are using to describe each place to stay, so keep an eye out for ‘great location’ and ‘amazing views’, and steer clear of ‘bed bugs’ and ‘slum’.
Of course, you won’t spend all your time holed up in your accommodation (particularly if you pick a hotel with the aforementioned ‘bed bugs’ and ‘slum’ problem), so check out the top rated attractions and restaurants in your destination to hit up as well.
TripAdvisor now connects with your Facebook profile, so you can sign in and check out the places your friends, and friends of your friends, have reviewed and visited.
Our advice? Pay attention to the hotels and attractions favoured by your friends with similar taste to you, and takes notes on what not to do from that guy you went to school with who doesn’t believe in showering.
- TripAdvisor displays amateur traveller photos of hotels and attractions alongside the professional images provided by owners, so you can see photographic evidence of just how tiny that basic hotel room in Rome really is or the serious problems a hostel in Budapest is having with rising damp.
- You won’t get your heart set on a hotel you have no hope of affording just by looking at the rankings system. TripAdvisor is linked with a number of online hotel bookers so the average cost of a room is listed alongside each hotel or hostel in the rankings system.
- The TripAdvisor forum is so thorough; reviewers are advising travelers on everything from the type of boots to wear during a Scandinavian winter to the best ways to hire a private plane in Cancun. The TripAdvisor community is so huge, more than 90 per cent of questions posted in the forums are responded to within 24 hours.
- You can’t believe everything you read. Terrible reviews could of course be written by rival hotels and tour operators with fake profiles, but given the size of the TripAdvisor community, we say trust the view of the overwhelming majority. Also pay particular attention to the posts of prolific reviewers, which are recognised and held in high esteem by the site.
- Remember that some people are incredibly picky and will find things to complain about in the most beautiful and luxurious of places. Case in point – one reviewer of the six star Bulj Al Arab in Dubai rated the hotel as terrible because she was wearing a skirt and there was a large wind blowing as she entered the building.
- Check out this great piece from The Guardian on why luxury hotels are being driven mad by people complaining about the most irrelevant things on TripAdvisor.
Who are the reviewers?
Just who are the people giving up their time to post reviews and help other travelers with firsthand advice?
Marty Drennan, who works for Virgin Australia, is a TripAdvisor fan and recently started posting his own reviews to provide advice to other travelers.
How do you use TripAdvisor?
I use the site as a research tool to help find flights, hotels, and other tourist activities, and usually cross reference that information with Expedia as well as the hotel or provider’s own individual website.
Why did you start posting reviews on TripAdvisor?
Although I had looked at reviews on TripAdvisor for a long time, I started posting when a tour operator I used on a recent trip to Canada encouraged us to post feedback on the site if we were happy with their service. The company is a minor player in the market, but is ranked second in the region on TripAdvisor, so much of the business comes from positive feedback.
Do – only look at recent reviews as operators can change in a relatively short period of time.
Don’t – dismiss a tourism operator on the basis of one negative comment.
Tap into the travel resources of millions of people who have been there and done that before you. There is no excuse for being conned by a fancy Peruvian hostel website or heavily advertised local rainforest tour when there are literally hundreds of people warning against it on TripAdvisor.