I know I’m a travel geek, but I find hotel-branding stories, such as our cover story, “Landmark Luxury” (page 8), on Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand, especially interesting because there are so many subtle touches that differentiate hotels. Also, hotels in particular have the potential to ruin a trip simply due to mismanaged expectations.
I think this potential is part of the reason for the popularity of peer-review Web sites such as TripAdvisor. Recently, however, an Associated Press article that ran in Raleigh, N.C.’s, The News & Observer addressed the issue of fake peer reviews (“TripAdvisor Warns of Hotels Posting Fake Reviews,” July 15). The article reported that TripAdvisor is now posting disclaimers on some reviews stating that there’s reason to believe the author may have “attempted to manipulate” the facts.
“People early on were not playing games with [the reviews]. Now there are lots of games,” said Steven Carvell, the associate dean of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, in the article.
“Find write-ups by professionals whose judgments you trust and rely on,” said Arthur Frommer, founder of Frommer’s travel guides, in the story. “I would never rely on the judgment of amateurs.”
Frommer was talking about the expertise of journalists, but his comments apply to agents as well. The next time someone says they are planning their own trip based on online reviews, you might want to remind them of the importance of real-world experience and unbiased information. Just as with the making of a brand like Waldorf Astoria, when planning a vacation, the devil is in the details. If your client would rather trust that to amateurs, ultimately it’s their loss. — K.S.