A Travel Easter Egg For You

One of the many reasons I love the Internet is because it has empowered the individual in so many ways.  Especially in travel.  These days, you don’t have to rely on a travel agent or a book to plan your trip.  You can do it on the Internet.

And in travel planning, one of the Internet’s greatest strengths is its ability to give you very current information.  One aspect of travel where current information is critical is hotels.  If you rely on a book, a hotel that was highly rated based on one or more stays during the “research” phase may have gone downhill by the time the book is out in print.

You may remember the Merrill Lynch (I think it was) TV commercial where two people are talking at a noisy, crowded party.  One says to the other: “My stock broker is Merrill Lynch and Merrill Lynch says….” and then the whole room goes silent as everyone strains to hear the advice.

Well, my hotel advisor is TripAdvisor and I never book an unknown hotel without checking out what its many readers have to say about it in contributed reviews.  In most cases, I’ll find a number of reviews and often there are current reviews.  TripAdvisor has steered me away from hotels that appealed to me on price and whose website looked good but whose customer reviews were less than robust.

TripAdvisor has also confirmed my thinking to stay at a hotel when price and other information looked good but I needed some “evidence” to put any lingering doubts to rest.  Most recently, TripAdvisor reviews convinced me that the $59 rate for a Friday night at the Desert Rose Resort in Vegas last January, when our MGM deal was not valid, was indeed a bargain.  The hotel is across from MGM, so we could walk there, and the price was right but…

The TripAdvisor reviews overwhelmingly praised this non-casino hotel which used to be  Hawthorne Suites. So I booked it.  I wasn’t disappointed. The hotel was fantastic and I’ll stay there again if I can get that price.

After relying on TripAdvisor for so long, I decided that I should “give back” and share my own hotel experiences for the benefit of others just as they do for me.  I wish I had become a contributor long ago, when my travels were much more extensive than today, because then I’d have contributed much more than the 17 reviews to date.

Recently, I became aware of just how popular TripAdvisor is.  I wrote a review of a La Quinta in Panama City after staying there in early February.  About a month later, TripAdvisor sent me an e-mail noting that the review had been read about 50 times. Wow!  (The e-mail was actually a request to submit any more reviews for recent stays that I had not yet submitted.)

With the economy being so poor, hotels are in especially fierce competition for the business of those folks still traveling. And while price is a factor, it is not the only factor.  Especially when prices are in the same price range.  Amenities, customer service and other factors then become critical.

Consequently, hotels are now using TripAdvisor to learn what they need to do to maximize repeat business and to appeal to anyone considering their property.  A recent article I came across in USAToday notes how TripAdvisor reviews have resulted in hotels taking action to address negative comments noted in customer reviews.

In the past, I doubt that most hotels would be so concerned about a single customer’s bad experience.  How many folks could the customer influence?  But with the Internet, one customer’s bad (or good) experience can be shared with millions of potential customers.  That’s empowerment!

So before you book a hotel you’re not familiar with, you may want to see what TripAdvisor reviews look like. And if you notice a review from “Travel Grognard” then you can be confident you’re getting the straight scoop…because that’s my screen name there!

Happy Easter!


8 responses to “A Travel Easter Egg For You

  1. I like sites that allow for reviews like you;re contributing. When there are significant numbers of reviews it makes it really easy to see a pattern of problems, or if a bad reviewer was just there on a really bad day.

    I’m glad at least one of us is responsible enough to give back!

  2. No dude! It was E.F. Hutton.

  3. I may not yet have told you how different we are in our approach to travel. The entire planning process bores me to tears. Perhaps it is because the nature of my last career frequently involved planning for others and answering a continuous barrage of inane questions. Perhaps it is a right /left brain thing. At any rate I remember the best vacation I ever had with my wife was about as different from your approach as it could be.

    I had to be in San Jose on a Sunday night. We decided to take off from Tampa on Thursday and see the Pacific Northwest but we were both so outrageously busy with our jobs and family that we had no energy to even discuss what we wanted to do specifically. She said just get us to Victoria and lets take it from there. So I booked the flights. Unfortunately there is no direct flight from Tampa to Victoria that also returns from San Jose direct to Tampa. So the flight was long with all the connections, which turned out to be beneficial for our planning. We both carried AAA guides on board and as we both preferred aisle seats we sat side by side and checked off privately what we thought would be fun to do for 3 free days. As we arrived on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria we compared notes and found that we had picked most of the same highlights. Mt Ranier, Gold Beach, Redwood Highway, Yosemite and Point Reyes. On Friday we sat in an outdoor perch on the little harbor at Victoria had a cravat of chardonnay and Dungeness Crab, watched the float planes land and depart and used the cell to put it all together. It was all last minute and it was all grand.

    Then 2 work days in San Jose and back to Yosemite for another 2 days. It was like a gift from the Gods that make lifetime memories.

    Today we prefer the day trips around our marvelous Florida west coast. I don’t know how many miles I flew but I do know how disgusted I am with the sate of air travel now and if it ain’t direct I don’t do it.

    I do agree that the internet is extraordinarily effective in planning, but only as good as the info that is put into the system. Sometimes the best planning is still word of mouth from the locals.

  4. Yes, we are very different in our approaches. I love the planning part. Almost better than the actual trip.

    I guess that in the planning phase, everything is theoretically wonderful. In reality of the trip, that wonderful is sometimes not as robust.

    You certainly managed to cram a lot into that “Victoria” trip! I’m amazed you got to Gold Beach, assuming you mean the one in Oregon. That’s nowhere near Victoria.

    When we drove the Oregon coast, we spent a night in Gold Beach. Next day, we went up the Rogue River in a “mail boat” to Agnes.

  5. Yeah it was a hike to get from Victoria to Mt Ranier on Friday and then to Gold Beach on Sat and San Jose on Sun. The OSP guy was not very friendly when he gave me the ticket, but the Oysters were huge and tasty and the beer was cold and wet and it was all part of the adventure. Rebel with a cause I think was the name of the trailer.

  6. I don’t do much traveling, so it’s good to know, when I do have a chance, that there’s a site that can help make sure I get the best experience and price.

    Thanks for the tip!

  7. I like the planning part too–the anticipation is part of the fun, especially since you say, in the planning stage everything works perfectly–and the real trip comes along to spoil it all 🙂 I’m sure I’ve told you about the two long trips I planned, one through Europe and one through the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. In the first case I managed to get us stuck for 3 days in the former Yugoslavia (not a place you want to be, then or now), and in the second, we got up at the crack of dawn to take the ferry from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick. Then we found out you had to make reservations for the ferry 24 hours in advance. My Fodor’s did not mention that!

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