1.23.2012

Do You Check with Tripadvisor Before You Vacation? I do. Here's Why.

I know. I know. I spend a lot more time than the average person looking at hotels before I plan a vacation, but there is one website that I think every person should at least glance at before booking their next destination.

It’s Tripadvisor. I don’t need to explain the website. It’s been around for years. Most of you have seen it. Travelers post honest reviews about the hotels they stayed in while on vacation or a business trip.

Tripadvisor

Last week, Tripadvisor released the top 25 hotels in the U.S. based on traveler reviews among other “best of” rankings. The No. 4 hotel on that list, Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, N.C., was featured right here on the blog. Another hotel, The French Quarter Inn, has been on my list of “must stays” for years for when I make my next trip to Charleston, S.C. But after reading Tripadvisor reviews on Charleston, some other lesser-ranked hotels would also be great choices.




When finding the perfect hotel, I think it’s important to see what others have to say about their experience.


Here are my top tips for using Tripadvisor:

Strongly Consider the Top 15 Hotels for your Stay

I don’t automatically book the top-ranked hotel. I study the Top 15 and, in some cases, the Top 20. Who am I kidding? I am a little rare, and probably study the top 40, but in reality, I usually end up choosing a hotel that is in the Top 15 on rankings, and, more often than not, I pick one in the Top 10. I did pick a five-star, luxury, historic hotel with a lot of mixed reviews one time, and guess what? I always regretted my choice and wished I had listened to Tripadvisor.  It was also ranked higher than 20.


Keep an Open Mind when Reading Reviews
Some people are just plain picky and will never be pleased no matter what a hotel offered them. So don’t rule out a hotel just because it has some mixed reviews. You have to learn to weigh what others say and take things, as the saying goes, with a grain of salt. For example, one guest may have complained about the fitness center. It could be a very petty complaint like size or type of exercise equipment. I certainly wouldn’t rule that hotel out on that complaint. However, if you see a lot reviews that involve lack of cleanliness, noise levels, a hotel room that looks worn, terrible food, or poor customer service, my recommendation is that you move on and find another property.



Price Doesn’t Matter with Tripadvisor
The No. 1-ranked hotel doesn’t have to be a four- or five-star luxury property. It could be a very medium-priced, family-operated inn with great customer service and cleanliness. It’s easy to find a great-ranked hotel within your budget. It is also important to remember that just because the cost of a hotel is high, and it is a considered a luxury property, it doesn’t always mean that the experience will be great. However, when choosing luxury properties, you also have to remember that the reviewers for these types of hotels expect a lot more than the average hotel guest, and reviews can be more critical. A complaint from the seasoned luxury traveler could seem very trivial to the person who just wants a clean, nice hotel in a great location. However, if you see a lot of the buzzwords in an expensive luxury hotel review such as, “room looks dated, worn,” then that luxury hotel is probably past its prime, and you will not be happy paying a high price. Move on!


Location, Location, Location
Really dig into the reviews to see what guests have to say about location. The No. 10-ranked hotel may have the best location for restaurants and shopping. That may be a factor in your decision when sightseeing.


Narrow Down Your Choices then Find the Best Deals
Once you pick some of your favorite hotels based on reviews, look at the hotel websites and other travel websites to see what hotels are offering the best packages and rates. I always try to find a hotel with both great reviews and great rates. If I have four or five hotel favorites, then I try to find the best price for my favorites, and that is how I choose my property for my trip.

Hotel Responses are Important
I personally like it when a hotel takes the time to respond to some of the reviews, and I am not talking about only responding to the negative reviews with some public relations response. I believe it is as important to respond to a positive review as it is to respond to a negative review. To me, it shows that the hotel is taking the time to listen to its guests. When looking at hotels in Charleston, S.C, the No. 4-ranked Harbourview Inn and the No. 5-ranked Courtyard by Marriott in the Historic District were the first hotels responding to their guests reviews, and I took note. When deciding on properties to stay in for Charleston, I may strongly take their actions into consideration, and it could perhaps cause me to choose their properties over a hotel that does not respond at all.


Many of you may be thinking of spring break and summer vacation spots. Happy planning. Hopefully, these tips will help make your trip all that more enjoyable.



Photo Credit: French Quarter Inn

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