As you know, we’re heading on another adventure this July to: Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and South Korea. Since I like to painstakingly go through detailed logistics of our trips, I spend a lot of time reading reviews on TripAdvisor.
First of all, TripAdvisor is fantastic. I can honestly say it has helped create some amazing memories on our adventures. They do a really good job of weeding out fake or paid reviews and leave it in the hands of “the people.”
Except, sometimes “the people” suck.
For instance, I was looking at hotels and guesthouses for our upcoming stay in Bagan, Myanmar.
Sidenote: If you have any recommendations, please let me know!
The accommodations around Bagan are a bit of a mystery. Traveling to Myanmar hasn’t been open to everyone until fairly recently. The tourist culture has essentially just started to exist, with hotels and tour companies popping up all the time. So there really are only a handful of hotels to explore and leaning on the reviews of other travelers is essential.
While narrowing down options for hotels, I came across a review that essentially said this:
This place was spotless, staff was friendly and we had a wonderful time. I would have given this hotel more stars, but they offered very few options for a western breakfast and that was truly disappointing.
I mean, really?!
You’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles away from your normal breakfast and because they don’t have that as an option in their country, you’re going to dock points? We aren’t talking about an international hotel chain here people. We’re talking about a mom and pop guesthouse that is dealing with the sudden influx of tourism in an otherwise cut off portion of the world.
But, you didn’t get your damn omelet and bacon.
Live a little, lady. Try out that crazy Eastern breakfast. It may be delicious and dare I say, you may actually like it. Plus, worse case scenario, you go outside the hotel and get the precise breakfast you want.
The hubster and I like to take quick staycations sometimes and stay at local hotels in Fort Lauderdale. It’s the beauty of living in a tourist town– we can snag really good deals last minute. Since I have Hilton Gold status, I try to earn points staying with them, plus the chances of an upgrade are better.
One time we stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Hilton Marina.
Looks gorgeous, right?
Well, let me tell you after reading quite a few reviews on TripAdvisor about how dilapidated this place was, I actually got sort of worried that even the $99 we were spending may not have been worth it.
That was until I stepped inside the hotel and realized people are ridiculous.
This hotel is near the cruise port, so a lot of cruisers stay here the day before they leave. I like cruises, it’s not my favorite way to travel, but I do like sitting back and going with the motion of the ocean. I’m not sure how people who
enjoy floating cafeterias cruise can have such an acquired taste for first-class digs, but apparently it’s possible.
I just couldn’t see how this hotel was run-down and dirty. Granted, there is an older portion of the hotel but it’s easy to request not to stay in that part. That said, I can’t imagine it had the third-world conditions these people were speaking about. The complaints seemed to be more along the lines of it wasn’t precisely what they wanted.
Which leads me to my TripAdvisor tips when leaving a review.
1) Know your audience
If you’re staying in a small budget guesthouse, know that the people who are looking at reviews for that hotel, are looking for a bed, clean digs, a warm shower and a friendly smile. They most likely don’t care that breakfast doesn’t come with hash browns. Don’t bring your petty stuff ’round here.
2) Slow your roll with expectations
You pay for a certain level of service, certainly. But if you’re staying at a busy chain hotel for $150 a night the day before you leave for your cruise, you most likely aren’t going to have the red carpet rolled out for you with an offer for a massage poolside by a good looking chap who is simultaneously whipping you up any cocktail your little heart desires. Would be nice though…
Don’t let TripAdvisor be your medium for a travel power trip.
Claude (Ironman) M. says
To say some people are ridiculous is too kind. Yelp needs to review the reviewers. It’s a generational thing, and certain elements within each succeeding generation seems to become more entitled, self centered, soft and narrow-minded.
My favorite is the student who gave only 2 stars to a fantastic community college I attend and train at. It’s an agricultural college on a real 200 acre working farm with horses, cows, pigs, chickens and all. It is huge in technology as well with all the offerings of a major institution of learning.
The terrain is rugged in parts, it is very popular for X-country racing because of all the horse trails, switch-backs, and varied terrain.
It’s a breath of fresh air in the middle of a sea of cement, traffic, and pollution.
‘I only give it 2 stars’ she says ‘because I like to run; but the trails are too difficult to run on because they are so steep’.
It has a state of the art tartan track facility right next to the trails.
That review absolutely deserves an: “I mean, really?!”
I find the reviews on Trip Advisor becoming more and more ridiculous. I recently booked at an all-inclusive resort. I was worried based on many of the reviews that I had made the wrong choice. However, once there, all was fine.
People have lost context – I think they are so accustomed to cookie-cutter corporate blandness, that when presented with something authentic, they don’t know who to deal with it.
I couldn’t agree more, you’re so right–people have lost context. I’d take authentic over cookie-cutter any day!
Sarah Harper says
I couldn’t agree more, Trip Advisor people are ridiculous sometimes, when I was doing research on places to stay for our honeymoon I came across a review of the amazing hotel we stayed at in Tuscany (1000 yr old castle converted into a hotel) that lamented the lack of large windows in the rooms – ummm which part of 1000 year old castle was confusing to you – not so much with the large windows then! I really like your blog, I too am a recent South Florida transplant (Delray Beach)trying to balance the travelling and working =)
Caroline Peterson says
Hahaha! Precisely. Sorry that the 1000 years of history was getting in the way of a larger window. Also, recent South Florida transplants unite! Glad to hear you enjoy the blog…and hopefully the Florida sunshine. 🙂 Where did you move from?
Sarah Harper says
Loving the sunshine and loving Florida – I was born here but grew up in Boston. We moved from Columbia South Carolina where frighteningly it’s a good 10-15 degrees hotter than it is here right now – glad to be out of there – at least down here I have a breeze and a beach a 10 min walk away!
Caroline Peterson says
I’m glad you’re enjoying it. The ocean breeze makes a huge difference and the sunshine makes a huge difference in my mood too. Haha.
A-freakin’-men! This is precisely why I’ve stopped reading TripAdvisor entirely. I’ve switched to Yelp. TA had way too may questionable options, it became too much like watching House Hunters for me! (which I also had to stop) Expectations are too high, and the people are too… “normal” haha.. anyways..
Caroline Peterson says
Haha. Yes! The House Hunters reference is spot on too!