Reading Between the Lines on Hotel Reviews


Trip Advisor, Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak…  They all have customer reviews of hotels.  Like me, you’ve probably read them as you made travel plans.  Perhaps you’ve even written a few online reviews or learned the value of reviews or social media in resolving issues with a company.

However, have you ever wondered HOW LEGITIMATE these online reviews are?  We need to answer that question…HOW to read them….how to read between the lines to get the most value from these reviews. They can’t always be taken at face value. 🙂

Let’s face it…there are some disgruntled people out there.  There are people who expect employees to move mountains…expect perfection around every turn…. If they have gotten upset or angry over anything during their stay, they may attempt to hurt the business by writing a negative review.

How do we sift through these and separate  the legitimate from the disgruntled?

  1. Look for majorities.  One bad review does not a bad hotel make.  Ten bad reviews and it’s wise to take note.  Are the majority ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
  2. Look at the date on the review. Managers have a LOT to do with how a hotel is run…it’s cleanliness, attitudes and professionalism of staff, et al.  If the reviews are several years old, you want to find out if there’s been a managerial change since then. You can call the hotel and “fish” for information by mentioning the negative reviews.  If there’s been a recent managerial change, the person on the other end of the line will almost ALWAYS volunteer that information.

    Photo Credit: Christopher Thomas on Flickr CC Lic.

  3. Look on multiple reviewing sites before you ‘write off’ a property….   Remember, “One bad review (or site) does not a bad hotel make.”
  4. Does the website ‘verify’?  Some websites verify that the reviewer actually stayed at the location (only accept reviews from people who reserved THROUGH their website so they can safely assume that person stayed there.  Other sites do not…(In other words, anyone can write a review)   Find out the policy of your reviewing website.  Obviously, only sites that verify should influence your decisions, right?  Sites that I KNOW verify:  As of this writing, there were no others I could confirm.  If others come up in time, please leave comments in the comment section and I’ll edit this info.  🙂

GOOD REVIEWS:  By the same token, just as you can’t base a decision on just negative reviews, be very careful about basing decisions on “flowery” review as well.  Some managers/staff will actually post {raving} reviews of their own hotels.  Once you are aware of that, you’ll be able to spot them.  They just SOUND like advertisements. They’ll mention things no ‘reviewer’ ever mentions.  Here’s a review I copy/pasted from a site about a vacation home rental….See what you think about it….

“This gated, private estate is beautifully maintained and manicured. The suites are well-appointed and decorated with Europeanesque/old- Hawaiian charm. Most importantly, the hostess is the most gracious and hospitable kama’aina (native). She is a wealth of information and genuinely concerned for her guests’ well-being. Before you start your daily island adventures, stop by Cinnamon’s Cafe & Restaurant, located right in Kailua town. Since 1985, they have been nurturing locals and visitors alike with their scrumptious delectables. Don’t forget to take home a bag of their Hawaiian blend coffee beans. If you forget to pack your ‘tropical’ wardrobe, no worries. Just visit Kailua Verde Boutique for an assortment of consigned designer clothing, accessories and jewelry.”

Note:  This review went on in this same style…my gag reflex just wouldn’t allow me to copy/paste any more.  As I read it, I couldn’t help but laugh…  🙂 It couldn’t have been more obvious if they had just SAID “Hey…read my raving review of this business…then go to my business page and read the raving review they wrote for me.”   That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad location.  Just be aware.  As a disclaimer, I reserved this location (on Oahu)  and we stayed there 4 nights.  Obviously our decision was based on more than just this review.  It was a pleasant stay and everything the OWNER claimed it would be on her website… surprises.  I just thought it was funny how the review ‘read’.

Final Words:  Don’t take anything at face value….Read between the lines…look for majorities….and be on the lookout for “fake” reviews or disgruntled customers (or employees).  With these tools in hand, you can read reviews and make good decisions.

Happy Reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s