Travel and Trip Advisor – Speaking to Sky News

Last week I was excited to get a call from a Sky News producer asking me if I would be interviewed as guest on their Technology show, Swipe.

I was interviewed over skype about the effects of technology and review sites such as Trip Advisor on travel planning and it got me thinking about how much of the adventure is being taken out of travel due to advancing technology and review sharing.

SkyNews interview Sara Hardman

Speaking to Sky News as a travel blogger.

When I backpack or take a long vacation, it rarely occurs to me to check Trip Advisor about where to stay, what to see and do. Reading reviews and having expectations can take  the adventure out of the journey. I want to discover things for myself without prejudice. As a travel writer, even the bad experiences are useful because at the very least, you always come away with a story.

On the other hand, when I take a city break – where time is precious and limited – I rely heavily on review sites. The Trip Advisor App is my go-to when it comes to picking a hotel or making a restaurant reservation. When I don’t have the luxury of time to wander aimlessly, I need to feel that the basics of accommodation, attractions and dining are taken care of so I can enjoy my spare time being a tourist without the pressures of making hit and miss decisions based on absolutely nothing.

Sky raised the question of fake reviews and I wonder how it affects other travellers? With 150 million reviews online how do you tell the genuine from the fake? The gushing reviews which could be an inside job and the scathing insults which could be a campaign by a rival business? I feel lucky that I’ve never had any bad experiences while relying on reviews and have never felt misled in my expectations.
I still like to believe that the vast majority of posts are made by real travellers, for travellers and posted in good faith.

You can watch the Sky News Swipe programme here:

Have you had any really good or bad experiences from using a review site? Does it affect the decisions you make while travelling?


6 thoughts on “Travel and Trip Advisor – Speaking to Sky News

  1. Hi Sara, many congratulations on such a high profile interview. It is great that your work is being recognised by companies like Sky 🙂
    I thought the video article made some very good points as you have as well above. The weight of numbers can really help us form an opinion about a place and we should not rely 100% on online reviews.
    If I look at online reviews I take comfort from the average rating for a place with a lot of reviews. I read 1 or 2 of the negative ones and can quickly form an opinion if:- it was a one off instance/the reviewers expectations are unfair/this is a problem I need to be worried about/the review is from someone with an axe to grind.
    A remember a few years ago a hotel review website hit national news for being found to have a lot of fake reviews. Not only did it damage the reputations of the hotels being reviewed but also of the website itself.
    Trip Advisor and so on are wary of their reputation and will seek to apply appropriate monitoring of reviews to retain their credibility.
    The idea of some people demanding upgrades otherwise the promise of a bad review is a sad reflection of how unethical some people are. If these people are writing reviews then I feel little inclination to rely on what they say.

    1. Thanks so much, I was really excited to be asked to take part.
      I absolutely agree about looking at reviews in a balanced way. I always look at the overall trend and try not to look at anything in isolation.
      One or two bad reviews wouldn’t actually put me off because it’s so subjective, what matters to me is that the management has made a public reply and an attempt to rectify the situation; for me, the willingness to resolve an issue is the important part.
      It is appalling that people are manipulating the situation and blackmailing establishments for upgrades and special deals but, as you say, probably inevitable.
      With all user generated content I think you have to keep an open mind and, ultimately, judge for yourself.
      Thanks for your comment, it’s really interesting to see how you feel as a frequent business traveller.

  2. I avoid tripadvisor at all costs – very little seems genuine on it. As you say, it’s nice to find things by yourself. The first and only time I used it was in the Italian town of gorizia when I thought I’d go to their number1 rated restaurant for the best meal I’d ever have. Bad move – it was horrific! I’ve since looked at my hometown’s ratings, and the top choices are all laughable.

    1. Thanks, that’s really useful to know. Sorry to hear the meal was so disappointing, that’s a big negative of reviews, they definitely give you expectations.
      I recently started reviewing places and trying to add photos as often as I can. I think a few images help to substantiate claims, good or bad.

  3. Hi Sara. I find Trip Advisor gives the reader a good idea of what you’ll be getting and I use it to research all my hotel stays – helpful to know if your room is situated next to the highway or has surly service etc. I find generally it’s very good. You of course have to figure out what, as a traveler, is important to you; you’ll hear some travelers complain about lack of turn-town service or English spoken at the front desk.
    But one thing I never do is book through Trip Advisor. I use it as a resource in planning but will always book directly with the hotel. I always figure dealing direct: 1) puts more money in the pocket of the small business owner and 2) makes any changes in itinerary easier to deal with.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Hi Frank, I agree I think booking directly is good advice and gives you peace of mind. There is certainly a place for Trip Advisor, I particularly like to look at restaurants and, as you say, tips on a recommended room or part of the hotel is always helpful.
      Happy travels 🙂

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