Are Travel Review Websites Reliable?

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Vacations are expensive and most travelers want to know exactly what they are getting for their hard-earned dollars. That is why many check online reviews of hotels and resorts before they book their trip.

Websites like TripAdvisor and Yahoo Travel let guests sound off anonymously about the good and bad of their stay. The reviews can be helpful if a traveler is unfamiliar with the hotel or the city. But some user-generated reviews can also have their share of pitfalls.

“Some of these hotels post reviews that are positive of their property. In some cases they have even been caught posting negative reviews of their competitors,” explained travel expert Mark Murphy.

Murphy, and others, advise travelers to read all reviews carefully and look for certain clues. If reviews look stellar, but there are only a handful of them, that should raise a red flag. Murphy also warns travelers to be wary of isolated views that are excessively bad. “Some people have a bad experience and they’ll just go on and complain about it, even though the property overall might be very good,” he said. It’s best, according to Murphy, to focus on an overall rating.

Murphy also suggests looking for reviews by travelers with your interests, in your age group and from similar geographic regions. That, he says, can help insure the best match for your interests and your travel budget.

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