For the most part, customers or travelers check out reviews to gain insight of the place, accommodation or establishment they are about to visit. It does help to gather information about unfamiliar territories to hamper the ill effects of bad surprises and to avoid culture shock. However, just how reliable are reviews?
With the Internet widely available to anyone, it is easier and faster to gather information, as well as to input information. It is highly likely that embellished and biased reviews dominate over reliable ones. To a point, reading reviews becomes no more than a straightforward way of knowing a certain place or establishment because readers have to review the reviews to scour the reliable from the unreliable.
Filtering reviews is not that easy. As a result, reading feedback becomes a necessary chore, whereas it used to provide the easiest, fastest way of understanding the unfamiliar and the unknown. Still, it is worth the time to read and filter feedback, as well as to post one of your own based on your experience and as unbiased as you can be.
Fake reviews are prevalent in travel sites where reviewers may freely post their feedback whether or not they are qualified to do such. To avoid this, travel sites need to qualify reviewers and only allow those who were actually customers. Those who made reservations or contacted the establishment may make a review of how well the booking went, regardless of whether the booking was confirmed or not.
Furthermore, it helps if there is an independent tourism reviewing body that provides detailed information regarding specific travel destinations apart from general advisories that many governments provide to their constituents.
At the end of the day, fake reviews, whether negative or positive, are all unhelpful and misleading to future travelers. These unreliable comments shape a majority of travel decisions, which affects not only tourists but also the local economy and industry players who rely so much on tourism.
Photos by: Trey Ratcliff, Amy Wardlaw, London Hotels Insight and Graeme Sprange