By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Getting ready to book a spring break trip or your summer vacation? Websites that compile reviews can be a great resource when you’re looking for a place to stay. But as 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, they can also trip you up if you’re not careful.
Websites that let hotel guests sound off anonymously about the good and the bad of their stay can be a helpful resource, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the location. But those user-generated reviews can also have their share of pitfalls.
“Some of these hotels actually post reviews that are positive of their property and in some cases, they’ve been caught posting negative reviews of their competitors. So how do you sort the wheat from the chaff? I think that’s the big challenge,” says travel expert Mark Murphy.
If reviews look stellar but there are only a handful of them, that should raise a red flag. Murphy recommends reading all reviews carefully and looking for certain clues in quality and quantity. A hotel should have a longer list of feedback, both good and bad.
“Some people will have a bad experience, and they’ll go on and complain about it, even though the property might be quite good. Some people will go on and rave about it, and then you kind of get to that mean, and I think that’s what you want to look for,” says Murphy.
By the way, looking for guest reviews by travelers with your interests, in your age group, and from similar geographic regions can also help ensure you a better match.