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Why Rick Steves Advises You To Not Fully Trust Travel Review Sites
While sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor offer a place for people to share their experiences, travel expert Rick Steves warns against trusting the information.
Steves wrote on his website, “My hunch is that a significant percentage of user reviews are posted by friends or enemies of the business being reviewed.”
These practices raise concerns about the reliability of the reviews. He added, “guests threaten them with a bad review unless the hotel gives them a big discount.”
Review sites can also be “echo chambers” due to the few top-rated businesses remaining at the top, meaning other quality restaurants or hotels fall by the wayside.
Steves stated, “Flashy businesses camp out atop the ratings. Travelers use it, like it, and rave about it, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of positive reviews.”
In 2021, TripAdvisor created a report stating that 8.6% of the site's reviews had to be removed for fraud or bias. They also deleted negative reviews, further skewing the data.
A negative review may not reflect the hotel or restaurant as a whole. Rather than trusting these sites, Steves suggests using a guidebook instead.