How to navigate the world of online reviews

It has never been easier to book a holiday thanks to the Internet. In just a few clicks it is possible to book a city break, a summer retreat or even a romantic honeymoon. However, navigating the world of online reviews can pose a significant barrier because it’s so much more difficult to make a decision! Whether you’re looking at star ratings, endless comments or top tens – this is how you navigate the world of online reviews.

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Is the reviewer valid?

Whenever you read any online review it’s important to question the quality of the information being shared. If a user is just listing the key facts of a product or is overly positive or negative, be careful. The best reviews provide a balanced perspective. Look for evidence that the reviewer has actually experienced that property, destination, attraction, etc.

Look for commonality

If a service or product has hundreds of reviews then look for a common theme. If lots of people are commenting that the ‘food was great but the bathroom was very dirty’, then this implies a more truthful observation. No organisation can expect to please every customer, so even the best 5-star service may receive a negative comment. However, unless others back that, then it may just indicate a small gap in a usually perfect service offering.

Watch out for promotions

Sometimes marketing companies may choose to leave overly positive reviews on client services or products. Watch out for this. Websites such as TripAdvisor require that reviewers disclose relationship details that could affect judgement when reviewing. However, other sites may not be so clear. Also, make sure that the service or product being reviewed hasn’t changed significantly in the last few months.

Online influence matters

On big travel websites you will find that there is a small group in an online community that will be a lot more active than others, therefore wielding more influence online. These ‘power users’ can be important trusted sources for reviews. When reading reviews keep an eye out for how influential the reviewer is. If they have only reviewed a couple of times, then their opinion of a product or service may not be as astute compared to a seasoned power user.

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