Do you frequently check out websites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor for their user generated reviews? Are you aware all it takes to express an opinion on a restaurant, hotel, spa, bar, bowling alley or anything really is a user name and a password? On these websites, you will find the opportunity for consumers to share unfiltered opinions. The question is, can you trust these remarks? After all any family member or friend can post their opinion in the hopes of increasing business, and knock the competition through the same method.
You will likely see posted scores for hotels, resorts, and cruise lines which are spread all over the map. A Holiday Inn may have an equal number of ratings in the excellent, very good, average, poor and terrible categories. Who do you believe? Many times travelers use these reviews and assume the posters know exactly what they are talking about. Not necessarily so. I suspect most people only submit ratings after they have had an exceptional experience - bad or good.
There is no way to validate the author of the comments or if they even stayed in a particular hotel or frequented a restaurant. My recommendation is to view these comments critically. Read the most favorable reviews and the least favorable, but don’t take them as definitive, rather pay more attention to the middle of the road comments and look for trends in these comments. Also, carefully note from what country the evaluator is from as I have found European’s and South American’s often have a different expectation than U.S. citizens. They do not have the same desire for king size beds, quick service or ample “elbow room”.
Most importantly remember a good value is not always the best price, but what you get for your dollars spent! When evaluating a hotel look for special offers such as “fourth night free”, or free parking, or breakfast included. These have real value and services you will need to pay for at any location. If the hotel is not in the right location, transportation will increase the price of your stay and often offset a higher per night rate. One cruise line is not the best fit for all travelers. Some vacationers want lots of activities, others want plenty of time to relax and enjoy a quiet place, some travelers wish outstanding food, others want lots of choices available at all times.
When searching remote or exotic destinations, be certain to keep in mind any teenager can post pictures and create a web site. With very little assistance they can make a website look enticing, a “must see or do” experience. When you arrive, it may not be the same image you had in your mind. If the website indicates, or email communications request you send money via a bank transfer to their bank account to secure a stay at the hotel, please don’t! This is not standard practice for hotels or resorts. A client came into our office stating they sent money to a bank account and now the hotel phone number is disconnected. Needless to say, this was not the experience she expected.
Use your credit card to pay a one night deposit, that way if the location is not what you expected, you can move on to another choice.
As travel professionals we utilize many sources before recommending hotels and resorts to our clients. Not only do we have communications among other travel professionals and a posting location where we can ask others if they had success with a hotel property, but also through travel providers who research and negotiate with these locations. Research is conducted by travel providers to be certain hotels and resorts are financially stable and the property is evaluated based on certain criteria to determine “their rating”. A prepaid reservation through a travel provider is different than sending money to a foreign bank account.
As a member of Signature Travel Network, Laura’s Travel Service, Inc. has an established portfolio of over 750 hotels, resorts, lodges, spas and unique places to stay around the globe. These highly recommended locations will provide you the vacation experience you will not soon forget. Your reservations will be secure and we are ready to assist you if they do not meet your expectations.
When you speak with a professional travel consultant, be prepared to be interviewed about your expectations for your trip. To meet your criteria we need to know your preferences, basically a needs assessment. This may include your travel date range, quality or location of accommodations or stateroom, required recreational amenities or activities, and cancellation policy. A travel professional wants to see you back as a repeat and satisfied client, not a one-time sale. If moving your travel dates slightly will save you money and still provide you with the vacation you want, we will let you know.
One more important issue – travel insurance! It is important to protect your vacation investment, you worked hard to save the money to be able to travel, you should protect that money just as you do your home or your car. As travel professionals we explain the different insurance options available to you and make certain you are covered appropriately to protect any pre-existing conditions you or your immediately family members may have. We can even recommend policies that protect work issues that may invade your vacation plans, or the need to return home in case of an emergency.
Searching the internet will make you a more informed purchaser, however it will not offer you someone to call if your travel plans change, if your hotel room is not acceptable or if you want to make arrangements that will make your vacation especially memorable. Travel professionals are a valuable source of information and are committed to make certain your trip is all you hope it to be.