Travel Comparison Websites & Online Reviews
Travel comparison websites, travel review websites, and price comparison sites that compare all local hotels to find the lowest rates have taken over the travel industry. When before it was much more common to deal directly with the hotel, price comparison sites have changed the way we find hotel accommodations. Travel review sites, just like price comparison sites, add even more research time, and may squash some hotels before they even have a chance to get off the ground.
The benefits of these same sites are clear. They sometimes provide cheaper prices, they may save time versus shopping around from website to website, and reviews themselves are a tremendous resource to travelers.
Intro photo of tropical beach sunset by Aaron Escobar, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.
Are your travel plans being shot down dead by travel review websites?
You have to admit that it's a pain to find a nice hotel nowadays. Before the internet, you would just take a chance, read an article on a featured hotel, or just use real word of mouth. Today, the internet has made that a whole lot more complicated with travel comparison websites, shopping comparison sites, and hotel review websites. While these can be nice, they can also suck you in for hours researching every minute detail of the hotel. What would have taken you minutes before to book a hotel now takes you sometimes hours. What's more, sometimes it spoils your good time. Most people are going to want to stay at a hotel that has received a star rating of 4/5 or more. If the hotel has only received a handful of reviews, and one of them wasn't favorable, that means that hotel is going to have an average to low rating . That's a hotel you may have otherwise gone to, and you may have liked, but since you saw the other negative reviews, you're avoiding that hotel.
What happened to spontaneity in travel? It’s not completely dead. Some people still prefer to book their hotels based on a hunch or desire, not what everyone else thinks about it.
Try something. Think of your favorite hotels. Now, go to any travel review website and search for the name of that hotel. Are you surprised by the reviews? Chances are, there are a few people who aren’t satisfied with their stay, while you couldn’t have anything but nice things to say about it. It’s a sacrifice the hotel industry has had to make to satisfy customers. While some hotels may have even seen an increase in business from favorable online reviews, others have started to see sales drop due to negative attention.
Did they deserve it? Maybe these hotels aren’t so good. Maybe one of the staff doesn’t care that there’s bedbugs in room 211. Or, maybe the hotel has changed owners since you went there last, and it’s completely different now. If you use any hotel review website to book your hotel, the time spent researching might be well worth it. Like it or not, travel and hotel review websites aren’t going anywhere. You might as well embrace it and make the most of them… you might enjoy the way your trip turns out. For those stubborn people who refuse to use these websites, eventually you will come around. All it takes is one bad hotel stay.
Photo by Lili Vieira de Carvalho, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.
If you've used one of these sites be sure to cast your vote.
Here are some of the most popular online hotel review websites that let people who have stayed there leave their comments, ratings, and photos:
TripAdvisor takes the cake in terms of sheer number and thoroughness of reviews. They have the most comprehensive library of online travel reviews for destinations, campsites, hotels, activities, and restaurants. This can really aid you in finding things to do no matter where you stay, and can weed out the lower quality, overpriced hotels.
The one annoying thing about the website is the pop up ads. We get it TripAdvisor, you want us to book through you so you'll get paid, but please let us continue to research hotels and we'll come back when we're ready. Not to mention many people dislike popups, so that's going to hinder Trip Advisor's commissions.
Other than that, TripAdvisor has a great service, and is probably the most legitimate of all travel review websites. Do keep in mind if a hotel only has a few reviews and has a low rating, that's not really a fair shot. To be accurate, a hotel should have at least 10 or so reviews.
While this Priceline.com is more for finding deals on hotels, they also do have online reviews. The best thing to do if you plan on using this website is to have Trip Advisor open in one window while you search, Priceline open in another.
The potential for savings here are average to above average. It's worth looking at Priceline before you book your stay to see if that hotel might be cheaper then the hotel's own website. It takes two seconds, so it's worth a look.
What I've also found is that sometimes booking a stay through Priceline is more expensive than booking directly through the hotel website, so be sure to check out all of your options if saving money is your top priority. In terms of reviews, there aren't as many reviews on Priceline as TripAdvisor, so check out both sites prior to booking your stay.
Like Priceline, Expedia.com offers some reviews, but they aren't as detailed or in the quantity range of TripAdvisor. Have TripAdvisor open in one window while you search for deals, so you can get a more accurate opinion of any given hotel.
Expedia makes it pretty easy to find availability and to search by hotel or city, so you shouldn't have any trouble using this website. In my experience, I on occasion do find deals on Expedia, but check out the competition to see who is cheapest at any given moment. It just might be the hotel themselves who has the best deal.
Take part in the debate below...
Do travel review websites make vacations better?
Travel review websites make traveling worse.
They help plan a better vacation!
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