You can tell from the title of this post how well that went.
I don’t mean that I didn’t get what I wanted from the guidebooks. They were fine for what I needed. What happened was indecision.
My husband began expressing doubts about our choice of hotel. We selected a hotel based on past experience and the write ups in the Frommers guide. Fine, right? Wrong. Mr. IT was reading the Trip Advisor and Yelp sites and saw a lot of negative comments about our hotel. I was then sucked in and began reading them too. I couldn’t stop! One bad review, followed by a so so one, followed by a really awful one. Rinse and repeat. Then I started to panic.
These people have JUST been at the hotel. Their horrible experiences will be MY horrible experiences! And so on, and so on.
This is no good, I thought. So I went onto some of the Trip Advisor community boards and asked if my hotel choice would doom me to failure. Most people said no, the hotel we selected was more than fine, and just what I needed. I relaxed, slightly.
And you know what? When we got to the hotel, everything was fine. We were even given a complimentary upgrade. We loved everything about our stay.
Which brings me to the flaw in sites like Trip Advisor. Reading what may be a one-off review isn’t always the best way to get travel information. I’m reminded about a dinner with our travel publisher where he talked about a recent hotel stay in Miami. I’m probably not getting all the details right, but the spirit is there. He booked a room at a hotel for one night and then read the Trip Advisor reviews. Several things stood out:
* Hotel was in a dodgy neighborhood
* Hotel smelled
* Hotel was too dark
* Hotel charged a ridiculous resort fee
OK, he said. I can manage. It’s only for one night.
When he got there, the hotel was in an older historic neighborhood, not exactly heavily populated at night like the clubbier South Beach hotels were. The lobby was dimly lit, which he considered to be “mood lighting” and rather welcoming after a long day of travel. There were lovely and fragrant flowers in the lobby, perhaps the “smell” that one reviewer referenced. When he went to find a towel to take to the pool, they asked him for a $7 deposit that would be returned when he brought back the towel. Yes, they called it a resort fee, but it was anything but one.
There you have it. A digital age version of you say tomato, I say to-MAH-toe.
It’s all about perspective on these sites. What was for one person a horrible stay turned into a great visit for another. It’s all in what you are looking for at the time, and that’s what you can’t always get from a site like Trip Advisor. It’s one reason that I will continue to turn to my Frommers (yes, and other publishers too) travel guides when I plan a trip. I can also see getting into interactive conversations on the community boards within Trip Advisor where you can get a little deeper into a conversation to figure out things better.
Guess I better pull out the Frommers guide to Singapore and Malaysia. I’ve got some homework to do!