The best hotel or resort review sites are a surprising choice according to a new survey undertaken to check on hotel resort review sites.
That’s the conclusion of a new survey by CivicScience. The polling company surveyed 1,789 U.S. adults about the websites they currently use to find hotel reviews. To absolutely no one’s surprise, sites like TripAdvisor, Google, and Trivago, topped the list. But an even bigger revelation may be the unmentioned sites.
The best hotel review sites ranked
Asked which hotel review sites they considered the “most trusted” here are the hotel review sites that scored the best:
TripAdvisor is the 900-pound gorilla of hotel review sites. The brand is known globally and trusted – generally. With roughly 661 million reviews that cover about 7.7 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants, TripAdvisor is big, but also controversial.
TripAdvisor reviews don’t require a verified booking. So you don’t have to stay in a hotel to submit and publish a review. TripAdvisor says it has a fraud detection algorithm, but savvy users contact me regularly to complain about bogus reviews.
“Their truthfulness is usually compromised,” says Brendan Lee, a frequent hotel guest and travel blogger. “For example, I can go on TripAdvisor right now and place a review for any hotel in the world without ever having stayed there. Of course, you can imagine how that system can be abused.”
Google Hotel Reviews (9%)
Google is not a well known hotel review site but it continues to gain ground against the other hotel review sites.
It is integrated into Hotel Finder with search, allowing you to retrieve a list of hotels with prices, photos, reviews and street view panoramas. But the same problem plagues Google. There’s no verification, meaning anyone can — and does — review a hotel and that leads to key, trustworthy questions (of which more below).
Google allows hotels to easily flag a review from someone who doesn’t have a verified stay. Google contacts the reviewer, asking for a screenshot of their receipt or other proof to validate their stay.
They are helpful reviews as they do not involve some concealed monetary transaction, but they are presented as base information rather than being reordered based on those who pay high fees or commissions.
Interestingly, Trivago doesn’t host user reviews but has a hotel metasearch site, which refers users directly to a third party. Trivago in fact publishes a “rating index” of hotel reviews based on reviews from sites like Expedia and Hotels.com.
Trivago’s aggregate scores for the best hotels have a lot of appeal to travelers seeking aggregated information about hotels, which gives it a third-place billing on this list. Trivago automate the process of trying to average the scores on sites like Google and TripAdvisor and trying to find a way of objectively evaluating a hotel.
Booking.com has a strong methodology that draws its 161 million reviews from verified guests, which means that there is less scope for manipulation of the data that on other hotel review sites like Google or TripAdvisor. Those results are then incorporated into the Booking.com site. So when you search for a hotel, you’ll find real reviews by actual guests.
The fact is that obtaining a real review from a genuine guest is what really matters. Fictitious reviews are the bane of the hotel review sites – and the travelers seeking to use them.
While statistically insignificant, Facebook is an important inclusion in this list. While you might not immediately know if the author of a review stayed at a hotel, it’s not hard to find out. Thanks to Facebook’s real names policy, you can determine if someone is legit — or just a phony online name like MelissaK.
Oyster Reviews(less than 1%)
Although Oyster received the fewest votes,it has some of the most powerful methodologies for hotel and resort reviews on this list of the best hotel review sites.
Oyster has a team of professional investigators who investigate hotels and then publish comprehensive high-resolution photos and expert reviews — “so you know exactly what you’re going to get before you arrive,” it says. It’s reviewed a total of 42,000 hotels so far.
None of the above (53%)
Perhaps the most revealing and disturbing aspect of the CivicScience survey of best hotel review sites is that most trusted none of them at all.
That result may not surprise many who have used hotel review sites. The fact is that when it comes to hotel reviews, people don’t believe anything they read online. And the reason is simple — they’ve been misled too many times.
It’s not just the fakes like MelissaK. It’s the reputation management operatives hired by hotels to boost their online ratings — and lower their competitors’. It’s the disgruntled former employees who can create an account on TripAdvisor and then eviscerate the hotel or restaurant they worked at.
But mostly, it’s the tens of millions of reviews by people with an agenda. Hotel guests, even the real ones, generally only leave reviews when they have something positive or negative to say about a property. And that in itself is concerning.
The nature of the ‘reviewers’ excludes a broad section of real guests who had an acceptable experience from the commenting platforms. It’s also a terrible disservice to would-be hotel guests looking for useful information.
What are the hotel review site options, then?
It seems clear that the most reliable source of information is by word-of-mouth. Find someone you know and ask them if the hotel you’re considering is worth it. There are other sources of information about hotel review sites too. Professional travel advisors can also be a good source of information, at least when it comes to evaluating amenities and service. The best travel agents have been to the hotel you’re considering, and can speak from firsthand experience.
I suspect the 53% haven’t been developed yet, at least online. The era of anything-goes, unverified hotel reviews is quickly coming to an end. Users already know it. This list of the best hotel review sites proves it.
It’s time for a hotel or resort review site that everyone can trust.