This article is a travel topic
While away from home, you want to be happy. You want to be comfortable. You want to enjoy youself. You want the place where you are staying to meet your satisfaction.
But there is a problem. You've never been to that place before. You've only seen it in a directory and read about it on paper. You don't know what it is really like. Is this place really clean? Are the employees really nice? How do I know what to expect?
Fortunately, in our internet age, many online sites, such as booking sites and TripAdvisor, allow customers of lodging and other establishments to rate and tell about their experiences in the facilities. They tell what they have experienced as customers at a customer's point of view, unlike the owners who will tell you propaganda based on all the good stuff they have to say. There's also expert reviews from travel companies such as Fodor's where you can find all the details you need to know about a hotel in place.
Reviews can be the answer. Almost all properties have at least some reviews already written about them. As a potential customer, you can compare and contrast each of the reviews that have already been written, and determine based on the words of others if an issues that have been reported are a problem for you.
There are some things to keep in mind when reading a review:
Fact versus opinion
If you are educated enough, you should know the difference between a fact and an opinion. If you are uncertain, you can look up these terms in a dictionary. Assuming that you do know, keep in mind that reviews contain both facts and opinions, often mixed together. Also be aware that a fact can be a true or a false one.
Examples of a fact are:
Examples of an opinion are:
Guests may have varying expectations, thereby influencing the tone of their review. For example, one guest may write a negative review, complaining about poor service. Another guest may not have such high expectations of service to begin with, and may like the cleanliness, so they would write a positive review, saying that the rooms are immaculately clean, and therefore overlooking poor service. One guest may think the drab colored carpeting is ugly; another may say it is beautiful.
For these reasons, it is possible for a hotel with top satisfactory ratings to be uncomfortable to one with high expectations, as those who gave the positive ratings did so based on their low expectations, or for a property with low satisfactory ratings to be well liked by someone who does not have such high expectations.
Numbers of reviews
One should generally not let one bad review outweigh many good ones. One who personally had an unhappy customer service experience may be taking out their sourgrapes on the location by exaggerating everything bad about it and even telling falsehoods. Meanwhile, the majority of other guests have been happy and only have positive things to say.
More recent reviews
More recent reviews have more weight. A location with a dark history could have been recently renovated and may be a lot more pleasant. Likewise, a place that was once very nice could have changed management and become run down.
Reviews versus rating system
Many review sites have customers rate the place on a scale of 1-5, and perhaps will print the average satisfaction rating of all customers. Be aware that this does not correspond with the hotel rating systems that are designed by large corporations. These are simply the points of views of individual customers. It is possible for a cheap, roadside motel to be rated quite high by its customers, and a highly luxurious hotel to have many dissatisfied customers. Although the reader can get more information about the hotel from a review to see if it would suit them.
Writing a review
It is strongly recommended that after staying at a lodging facility, whether it be a drop-in for one night on your way to somewhere else or several weeks you may be spending on a long holiday, that you write a useful review about where you stayed. By doing so, you are helping others who may be considering staying there to make up their mind if that is what they are looking for, and helping the facility itself make improvements. Yes, the management at many facilities do read the reviews that are written about themselves, and they use the information to determine how to improve themselves. Some even write rebuttals to negative reviews.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when writing a review:
Tell the truth
All reviews shall be truthful. Whatever you do, do not let your feelings, positive or negative, lead to falsehoods finding their way into the review. The purpose of the review is to help others and to help the facility accomplish what is best for all. Lying positively about a place gives potential customers higher expectations than reality, and keeps the facility from knowing what they need to do to improve themselves. If you say something false that is negative, you can get sued for libel.
Many times, you may be so like a place so much that you want to tell everyone the very best. Or you may hate it so much that you want to write a tell-all. But now it is time to practice self-restraint.
For example, if you find one corner of the area around the sink has a little dirt that should have been cleaned before your arrival, and the remainder of the room is immaculately clean, you should not say "room was dirty." If you had to wait your turn [fairly] in line behind someone else to see a desk clerk, you should not say that the staff took a long time to meet your needs.
Your review is to be based on your own experience with the property, not that which you have heard from others. You can write a review if either you have stayed at a place, or that you visited personally while considering staying there, but decided against it once you arrived. But under no circumstances may you write a review based on what you've heard or read about from other people you know, other reviews you have read about the property, or other sources.
If you write a review based on how you perceive the property to be after reading all the existing reviews, all without ever setting foot on the property, you are not advancing the cause of what the reviews provide for future guests. You are just recapping the reviews of others based on your own guess. And if you hear of another guests experience, but did not have it yourself, you are just rehashing theirs.
Be careful using names
There are some situations in which it is justified to use a person's name. For example, if one person gave you exceptional customer service, you may want to give them a glowing report. Once again, it should not be exaggerated. But use their first name only, and then a last initial if you need to distinguish from another employee with the same first name. But don't put a full name in your report unless the property itself bears that person's name.
If you have a complaint about a particular employee, it is best to take it up directly with their supervisor and not to use the review to vent your frustrations. When you write a review, it becomes publicly visible, so whatever you write about that person can be found via a Google search. You may think you are punishing that person by doing this, but such action is uncivilized and will not necessarily solve the problem. It may cause hardship in that person's life in an unwanted way. That person may be able to sue you. (And yes, through good detective work, 'anonymous' internet usage or usage under a false name can be traced to you.)
Some franchises will pay bonuses to employees whose names are mentioned positively in reviews. If you have a truly great experience from a specific employee, be sure to name them!
Be careful about personal attacks
Remember, what is it exactly that you are upset about. Are you upset about the owner? Or are you upset about the poor lighting? If the latter is the case, but the owner is nice, you have no business saying anything bad about the owner.
Perhaps the owner is trying to do a good job, but is unaware of some problems. Your reviews, if written fairly and accurately, may help the owner see that such a problem exists and make improvements for the future. Simply attacking the owner does not solve that problem.
Don't blame management for things beyond their control
You stayed at a hotel. They did everything right as best as they could. But there is an airport nearby, and you hear planes all night and day. It is on a busy road, and you hear traffic all the time. There is construction taking place during your visit, and you hear jackhammers all night long. Not a pleasant experience at all. But who's to blame?
Yes, you can make mention about these issues, just so future guests are aware the building rattles every time a truck passes on the highway, or there are no restaurants nearby, or it takes an hour to reach the nearest civilization. But keep in mind management has zero control over this. All they can do is keep their own property in the best order they can. Anything beyond that, and they are doing nothing wrong.