Industry Update
Opinion Article21 January 2019

TripAdvisor Reviews: Good, Bad and Ugly

An eye-opening reminder that in the hotel industry nothing goes unnoticed and your online reputation can make or break you

By Alan Young, President of Puzzle Partner Ltd.

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TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, has long since become a trusted online hub for online feedback around the globe. In fact, amidst the rising popularity of social networks and, by virtue, the influx of social feedback from consumers, TripAdvisor has accrued over 702 million reviews delving into the service/experiences offered at the world's leading hotels and travel listings.


That's right… 702 million. This includes 136,000 destinations, 1.2 million hotels, and 975 attractions. Talk about a comprehensive glance at the travel and hospitality realm, with valuable guest-centric insights conveniently showcased while prospective travelers begin their trip planning process.

With this information at their disposal, travelers all over the world can effectively vet hotels, airlines, restaurants and local experiences/offerings, to find the best fit to their unique set of expectations. What does this mean for hoteliers? Well, online reputation is more important than ever before. Exceptional guest service doesn't go unnoticed but, then again, a bad guest experience is always noticed and, in most cases, written about online.

Consider this: In a 2017 survey, 97% of consumers said they looked at online sites for information on local businesses, and 85% said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Another survey then found that 22% of respondents would not spend money on a business after reading a single negative review. And after three bad reviews? That number jumped to 59%.

I don't know about you, but if I were a hotel owner, I wouldn't care to mess with odds like that.

It doesn't end there, though. Studies also show that hotel shoppers spend, on average, 29.8 minutes digging deep into a hotel's website before making their reservation and within a recent "Path to Purchase" study it was found that TripAdvisor reaches 60% of all travelers. That same study also determined that across the globe, TripAdvisor is the number one most-visited site and app by consumers before booking in the top travel markets.

With so much influence, TripAdvisor is — undoubtedly — full of reviews ranging from exceptional to good, mediocre and downright awful. So, of course, we've compiled a collection of some of our favorite good, bad and ugly reviews currently on TripAdvisor.

The Good

Each of the hotels mentioned below has been voted as one of the 2018 Top 25 Hotels in the World by Trip Advisor users, with a myriad of glowing reviews. Here is a sampling of some of the praises from recent guests that clearly enjoyed their experience.

Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa (Vietnam) - "We were totally impressed with the service, the room, and the food. We would give it ten stars if TripAdvisor had that many."

Gili Lankanfushi (Maldives) - "Absolute paradise, with ultimate comfort and privacy. The villa attendant is like a ninja. Comes in and out without being seen yet keeps everything in order."

Shinto Manu Shack (Cambodia) - "Beauty and serenity. The staff is, to a person, happy, willing to help in any way, and creative about how they help."

The Leela Palaca Udaipur (India) - "From the boat ride to the rose petal shower on arrival to the perfect service and kindness of all staff, it was magical."

Belmond Palacio Nazarenes (Peru) - "Absolutely the best. The rooms are well appointed, with gracious and thoughtful extras such as fresh organic soaps cut in your bathroom by a butler."

The Bad and The Ugly

We decided we didn't want to name names of hotels that received the worst reviews, but we found details of some pretty scary guest experiences on TripAdvisor. Would you book at these properties after reading reviews like these?

City Hotel (London, UK) - This hotel has earned 1.5 stars on TripAdvisor, and 117 people out of 269 have rated it as 'terrible.' "As soon as you walk in you're hit by a smell that smells like a mixture between guinea pig faeces and fish."

Historic Inn (Stroudsburg, US) - "I'm not going to get into details, but the only reason you should stay here is if there are absolutely no options left."

Upscale Hotel (Dorset, UK) - "We arrived at ***** Hotel yesterday, hotel is the wrong word more like ***** Nursing home. The rooms were very dated, and you could not open the ensuite door without hitting the TV on the wall.  Breakfast was an experience, sausages/orange juice were very cheap and not nice, I have never seen fried bread orange before little worrying!! I would not recommend anyone to stay at this hotel unless they're over 80!!"

City Hotel (Brussels, Germany) - "The staff were rude, and one even swore at me in French but didn't realise that I actually understood her." Another said: "The location leaves a lot to be desired, unless you happen to be a freelance exotic dancer. Nestled in a district of sex shops and strip clubs, the area attracts the sort of people that you would cross the street to avoid. Next, you enter the lift - I have seen suicide attempts that adhere to more health and safety measures. Seriously - take the stairs… The 'continental' breakfast was cheap packaged bread, cheap salami, and plastic - wrapped cheese. I didn't try it - I value my life. I can only imagine how it tasted…Yes - it is near to the centre of Brussels; but so are so many other reasonable hotels - they can't all be this bad. Seriously, do not do it; there are prisons that are luxurious by Hotel Manhattan's standards. And before you ask yourself, can it really be that bad? Trust me, yes it can."

Luxury Resort (Manchester, UK) - "I actually went to bed with my clothes on and didn't dare to venture to the toilet." Another said: "Dirty is an understatement, the bins outside the hotel looked more inviting."

In Conclusion

Let this serve as a gentle reminder that when it comes to hospitality — nothing goes unnoticed. From the location to the staff, thoughtful extras or even the cleanliness and presentation of the room, every touchpoint matters to guests. And if TripAdvisor has taught us anything, it's that in the hotel industry, your online reputation can make or break you.


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Alan Young

Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality. Previously, Alan has held executive sales and marketing level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou.

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    Alan Young
    Puzzle Partner Ltd.
    Phone: 705-241-5244
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