Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Some Concerns about User-Generated Websites

You’ve done some research on travel review website (like tripadvisor.com and cruisecritic.com), right? They’re great resources for independent travelers who are trying to decide what destinations to visit, where to stay, which cruises to sail, or where to eat.

But, haven’t you noticed how some hotels (or cruises, or restaurants, etc.) can have several great reviews . . . and then one absolutely horrid report? You probably write off the one bad review and go with what the majority wrote, but it still leaves some doubts, doesn’t it?

Then, there are the reviews that are too good to be true: Is that 3-star hotel on Waikiki Beach really the best hotel in the world??

Lots of these reviews can simply be written off to the fact that people like to exaggerate. However, an even more disturbing thought is that the reviews aren’t even written by customers!

Earlier this year, the famous guidebook author, Arthur Frommer, wrote an article for the San Francisco Chronicle:
Why online travel buzz might be bogus. He discusses the emerging PR tactic called “Buzz Marketing.” Basically, companies within the travel industry are paying people to post reviews on user-generated websites (including tripadvisor.com, etc.) – positive reviews about the company, negative reviews about the competitor.

Maybe that’s why Steve Kaufer, the founder of tripadvisor.com,
still uses a travel agent for his own trips.

User-generated websites are great to get the ideas flowing. But, follow that up with a call to your travel agent – someone who can give you an unbiased opinion. We at the Travel Team like to think we’ve got a lot of unique and useful knowledge to offer. Why don’t you check out
our website? Then, give us a call for some vacation advice, based on our own travels. The Travel Team Agents are your Australia and New Zealand Experts.

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