When we travel, many of us depend on the recommendations of others to make the best of our short visits to locations unknown. Sites like TripAdvisor can be very useful. But can we always trust them?
TripAdvisor has become the goto site for travel recommendations. I use it myself, but always with a wary eye. Especially since I can see how it affects businesses here in Key West that I have relationships with.
I live and work in Key West, and part of my job is to make recommendations to my clients. I take that role very seriously. I also realize that my opinion can be swayed because of my likes and dislikes, so I also like to read what others are saying about a particular activity, restaurant, or accommodation. For instance, I am not a huge fan of Chinese food, so no matter what I get to eat, I am not going to thoroughly enjoy it. For this reason, when reviewing such a place I like to take my experience as a whole and talk to others about their experiences at a particular place before I give my recommendation.
When reading the reviews on TripAdvisor about local businesses, sometimes I just scratch my head. I have seen businesses that have been around for a very short time with more reviews than they could possibly have for the time that they have been in business, all positive, giving them a super high rating. And I have seen businesses that have been around for many years with very few reviews, good and bad, but they are all honest and not canned like the newer businesses reviews.
What do I mean by canned? Canned is when reviews all sound exactly the same. They all have the same ingredient. That is because these reviews are not real. They are written by a company that is paid to put up reviews to bump a persons rating on sites like TripAdvisor, FaceBook, Google, and many other review sites. Yes, these companies do exist, unfortunately.
Don’t miss out on experiencing certain things on your vacation because of the skewed rankings on TripAdvisor. Their popularity index is based on sales, sponsorships, and a dirty algorithm that promotes other businesses higher than others because they are paying into the site. Actually read the reviews. You can tell if the reviews are real or not. And you can also tell if they were written by a person that is completely impossible to please no matter what one does.
Also, look to see if the businesses with high reviews are being sold on TripAdvisor. There are now accommodations and activities that can be booked directly through the site. You might want to investigate those options further as it seems to me that there is a money motive for promoting these particular options over others that are only reviewed on the site.
While I do think sites like TripAdvisor can be helpful to travelers, just take the reviews with a grain of salt. Talk to the different companies and get a feel for them. Do what feels like the right fit for you!
To see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events.
And for more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!