How review sites work and why you shouldn't rely on them - Yarmouth B&B owner explains the pros and cons
PUBLISHED: 13:40 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:40 30 April 2019
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As people plan their next getaway to the seaside many will be swayed by what they read on review sites.
Good reviews bring in guests and sites that offer feedback and star ratings have driven up standards.
But Great Yarmouth B&B owner Gary Smith says that while they are a useful tool, customers should proceed with caution because of the way review information is collated and the type of people leaving them.
Invariably people who have had a negative experience will be more likely to leave a review, he said.
And what they class as “terrible” may be just what someone else is looking for - like karaoke, noisy bars or a string quartet in the corner.
But the ways sites like Tripadvisor, Trivago, and Booking.com collate information, albeit slightly differently, could see the accommodation marked down affecting its overall score and star rating.
Writing in his blog lifting the lid on what its like to run a B&B, Mr Smith said there was plenty of information out there, but sifting through it could be difficult and not necessarily helpful or accurate.
He said: “Not everyone who has stayed in a particular accommodation writes feedback via an online review, so the full picture isn't available.
“Many people are guilty of looking at the reviews and their scores rather than reading them possibly resulting in their expectations not being met.
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“A browser might see an accommodation with the best review scores across all platforms and assume it will have all facilities only to arrive and find it doesn't have a swimming pool or jacuzzi.
“If reviewers talk about the location being very close to the attractions don't assume they would be the attractions you would want to see,” he added.
In some cases people weren't fair, only posting negative reviews when they have had numerous positive stays.
He goes on: “Occasionally people will use the power of writing reviews as a weapon against the accommodation by arriving and almost immediately indicating they will be writing a review.”
The weather can also unfairly see a hotel's ranking suffer through no fault of its own.
He said he had also seen places marked down across the board because the “wrong” coffee was served, the sausages weren't the right brand, and cleaning was “over the top”.
Overall he says reviews should only be part of your research - very good reviews may still not mean the accommodation offers what you want and bad ones may be distorted.
His advice is to read them properly, and the replies from the accommodation to get a feel for both the reviewer and the people running the business.
Mr Smith and his wife Julie have run the highly rated Kilbrannan Guest House in Trafalgar Road for ten years.