If given the opportunity to stay one night in a leading hotel in Jerusalem, many travelers would choose the famous King David Hotel, due to its history and guests: kings, presidents, leaders, writers, artists and celebrities. Others may choose the famous Waldorf Astoria, a few hundred meters down the road. If given the same opportunity in a world-famous hotel in Tel Aviv, the hotel of choice could be the Sheraton, David Intercontinental, Hilton, or the recently opened glitzy The David Kempinski.
What do all these hotels have in common? Strange as it may sound, none of them appear in Tripadvisor’s top five hotels in the city proper. This online site has nearly 1 billion reviews and opinions on nearly 8 million companies showing people’s opinions on the best hotels.
The good news about the King David Hotel is that it is among the top 10 hotels in Jerusalem, but the rest, including some world-renowned hotels, are far behind. This is not unique to Israel. Some of the world’s leading hotels are not among Tripadvisor’s leaders.
Is Tripadvisor worth it?
“In the days of what we define as mass tourism, travelers booked hotels through travel agents who offered them accommodations based on their interests, activities, and preferences,” says Dr. Lior Zoref, author, publicist and public speaker. “The quality of the customer was not the leading factor. Nowadays online review platforms allow travelers to understand what their fellow travelers think. It is not perfect. The information sent must be checked carefully, however, when the number of comments is high, true opinions appear. We can be sure that the entire guide is correct. In the past, large hotels were often encouraged by small hotels that did not have money. Crowdsourcing is a revolution in the travel industry and hotels with good reviews get more guests, regardless of what they have,” he says.
Are Tripadvisor reviews reliable?
Undoubtedly, population growth is a technological change, but the risks are there. How reliable are the reviews? Basically, a traveler can post a review on Tripadvisor without being a hotel guest. Tripadvisor management is aware of this problem. This April, it released a statement that more than 1.3 million reviews posted on Tripadvisor last year – 4.4% of all reviews – were fake. “However, we prevented 72% from reaching the platform. This shows a 5% increase from 2020 when we caught 67% of fraudulent comments”, he said.
IT APPEARS that there is more to see. “In a normal year, the brand hotels have more business travelers and less leisure travelers. Most of the reviews on Tripadvisor are leisure travelers who prefer independent hotels versus brand-name hotels,” said Max Starkov, an American travel consultant and hospitality and associate professor of hospitality technology at New York University. “On average, the number of reviews left by leisure travelers compared to business travelers is 4 to 1”, he says.
International brands are known for their technology, marketing skills and loyalty programs that attract millions of members. They are not ready to bend the knee easily. However, disappearing multiple times from Tripadvisor listings is scary. Tripadvisor offers a service that comes with a price: Sponsored Sites, an advertising solution. It helps businesses to drive online traffic to their sites by advertising prominently on the world’s largest travel search engine.
Do buyers recognize Tripadvisor groups?
One question remains. Do consumers see these offers when they are browsing on their phones? TripAdvisor is the most popular website when it comes to travel bookings. It accounts for the volume of all online shopping worldwide. This positioning allows global companies to take advantage of their consumer purchasing decisions.
Shortly before the outbreak of COVID-19, Tripadvisor introduced changes in its positioning from a review site to a place to organize, share and book travel experiences, and above all, to find the best hotels. When travelers search for a destination on Tripadvisor, hotels are no longer displayed according to Popularity Ranking. The new default ranking is called “Best Value.” “This is a completely unknown process,” says Max Starkov. “Properties are selected using Tripadvisor’s own data, including traveler ratings, partner price availability, popular bookings and preferences. Essentially, this means that the hotels that make the most money on Tripadvisor are listed above many of the top hotels, “he says.
There are also other options that buyers can choose from if they want: Who is Walking, Price (Low to High) and Distance from City Center. “Do users see small and well-hidden options and know how to switch options from Best Value to other options?” suspects Starkov.
Tripadvisor is an update. For more than ten years, it has been providing us with reviews of hotels and tourism services, so that we can get the best guarantee before booking a trip. It comes down to one simple fact: travelers trust other travelers. Tripadvisor’s Annual Travelers’ Choice badge is awarded by hotels proudly selected on their website, front desk and mail.
However, is it the best model for people traveling today? It’s definitely in the eye of the beholder. Today’s travelers are smarter than ever. If we are looking at the number of people, by changing the choice of Traveler Rank mode, knowing about the places offered by the international currency and famous hotels, you will be smart. In that case, choosing where to stay, using the Tripadvisor guide as a popular resource, would be at the top of our list.
The author is the publisher of Travel Flash Tips.