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Online Reviews can be Misleading-Take each with a Grain of Salt

26 February 2007

Recently there has been much controversy about websites that provide “unbiased” opinions about lodging and restaurants. There has been research done that suggests that not all comments are from actual users, but that many are generated by marketing organizations assigned to promote or attack clients or their competition. This is referred to as Buzz marketing.

We have seen many examples of these tactics with B&B’s of our friends who received unfavorable reviews, totally unjustified. It had even happened to us by writers who never stayed here. We’ve also seen situations where in perfectly good restaurants have received dubious reviews that may prevent new clientele from having a great experience.

Use these on line references, but use them with some caution. If there is a preponderance of positive comments that clearly read “from the heart” of a guest who stayed at a facility of interest, then you may be able to rely on that information.

Arthur Fromer recently wrote  http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/25/TRGCIO8N8L1.DTL  about his concerns regarding on-line review websites and its worth reading if you rely on these services for your trip planning.

Our advice is to check out what’s been written, but call the property and ask some key questions:

Do the owners live in the home or on the property?

What restaurants are in close walking distance? Describe the neighborhood.

Do all the rooms have private baths? How about soundproofing or sound limiting?

Ask for the fire code and sprinkler status? Do they have this kind of equipment? Fire exits clearly marked? What is the construction of the building? Wood, brick, etc?

Parking off street?

Testimonies on line that you can review?

How many years have the owners operated the facility?

Smoking or non-smoking?

What kind of breakfast?

Quiet hours at night?

What type of bedding quality and linen?

24/7 come and go without curfew?

Porch, patio, garden?

Is there a front desk?  If so it may be a hotel in desiquse and not a true B&B or guest house.

What other amenities come with the rate? 

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