Travel Review Site Surveys: Believe it or not …

It seems that barely a day goes by without the press office of some review site releasing a survey listing the 10 Filthiest Fleapits in Florida, the 20 Best Brothels in Bangkok, or some such nonsense.

Usually these “surveys” are no more than editorial conjecture and office gossip, combined with a few well-chosen statistics from the review site’s own data.  At least it’s obvious that these are just a bit of nonsense, and sensible folk can take it all with a pinch of salt.

However, at times the review sites also release results that appear to reveal serious travel habits or attitudes of the travelling public. The latest from Trivago purports to reveal the “Top 10 Easter Destinations” for the UK population.

According to the results of this study by Trivago, British citizens have predominantly chosen to spend their Easter holidays abroad. Distance is clearly not an obstacle, for the study has revealed two long haul entries in the Top 10 list: Dubai and Bangkok. According to this survey, British travellers have chosen Dubai and Bangkok as their second and fourth favourite travel destinations for this Easter. Hmm. Interesting. Other surprises include Hong Kong (11th place), Sharm el Sheikh (13th), New York (14th) and Koh Samui (18th).

Bad news for British Tourism: UK destinations barely feature on the list of favourites.  In fact, among the UK travellers’ top 50 Easter destinations, only eight British towns appeared: London (1st place), Edinburgh (10th place), Manchester (12th place), Glasgow (22nd place), Brighton (24th place), York (30th place), Birmingham (32nd) and Fort William (48th).

Crikey. This is a turn up. So Fort William will be the 8th most popular destination in Britain this Easter, and more people are going to places like Hong Kong, Dubai, Bangkok and Stockholm than to Manchester, Glasgow or Brighton.  Lovely as Fort William is, I find this a bit odd. What about the usual top seaside towns of Scarborough, Skegness, Bournemouth and Blackpool, normally all in the top 10?  (Source: UKTS 2007)   The fact that it’s Easter can’t account for Fort William suddenly leapfrogging these, can it?

The answer to this mystery is at the bottom of the Trivago press release:

The ranking of the top British Easter destinations is based on the search requests for hotel prices made on http://www.trivago.co.uk in March 2010 for the Easter holidays.

So there we have it – this “survey” is not a revelation of an amazing new travel trend at all, but a quirk of the strange hotel search patterns by UK Trivago users in March.

These aren’t real surveys.  The only point of these review site “surveys” is to grab a few page inches of free publicity.

What a shame that the travel sites who play along don’t print a warning “Believe this drivel at your own risk”.

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3 responses to “Travel Review Site Surveys: Believe it or not …

  1. Tripdavisor uses the businesses and business skills of other businesses, with millions invested, to boost their own economy. Click – advertising dollars and bookings thru – maybe – Expedia?
    It seems as if their modus operandi is to weed out the “bad” hotels – and have travelers book the “good” ones – so that they have more business and less complaints to their and Expedia’s customers….. refunds, free upgrades, free food…. give it to the customer – and it does not cot Trip advisor a penny – it comes out of the pocket of the hotel owner. Sad but true

  2. Hi Phil. I blogged about TripAdvisor’s ‘horror story marketing’ approach here. At the time, I worded my criticism generously.

    More and more I’m of the opinion that TA – like a range of other things (Angie’s List, Unvarnished, Coworkers.com – right down to your The Best Ofs.. and Touch Locals etc) are just a slow train wreck in the making.

    There was a while where (as a specialist in feedback and change) I wanted the online world to be able to make feedback and transparency work. Then I got real ;-)

    Offline, people find feedback hard so they avoid it. They miss the single most important point: that the more uncomfortable feedback makes you feel, the more there is to learn.

    Most (if not all) of the 20-somethings setting up online customer review systems think that technology will save them from that discomfort. In the pursuit of this ‘pleasantly palatable’ kind of social media feedback, they create the perfect opportunity for gaming, spamming and revenge-taking.

    Poisoned (as always) by greed and complete lack of real-world accountability, social media review / feedback will eventually sink to the level of the lowest common-denominator and ultimately, irrelevance.

    The trouble is, it’s still likely to cost a lot of people a lot of money between now and then.

    • Great article – thanks for letting me know about it. The search for shock-horror headlines is mean and ultimately counterproductive – especially when the hotel has a virtually unblemished record apart from the one unrepresentative review that suits TA’s PR purposes and gets picked out for their “horror story”. Is it reasonable for TripAdvisorto take a liberty with a hotel’s reputation for the sake of cheap publicity? Not in my eyes.

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