TripAdvisor Reviews On Koh Samui – Should You Trust Them?
TripAdvisor is a website where hundreds of thousands of users review places like hotels and restaurants. People visit these websites ahead of their trips to get some good idea and decide where to stay. But there are so many reviews from so many people, and the question you end up asking is, can you trust these?
The thing here is that these websites also tend to have stakes in tourism, and that affects their neutrality. It leads people to question whether they can really trust these reviews? Is that hotel with one-star ratings really that bad? Is that resort with five-star ratings really as good as it is made out to be? And while the websites fight against fake reviews with human moderators to make sure the reviews are all genuine, there are always some cracks and things get through them. Sometimes the positive reviews make you question the authenticity, but sometimes you will also wonder at the reviews that are downright acidic. Sometimes there’s just a difference in taste, expectations that are too high or too low.
TripAdvisor’s Koh Samui travel page is a good place to start, for people who want to visit the island, or are seeking real thoughts from genuine travellers instead of the exaggerated photographs posted by the tour companies. Sometimes genuine travellers end up leaving misleading reviews. The writers of these reviews can be a bit too judgmental sometimes. While dismissing the quality of service of a hotel, they forget that the truth is just that they were expecting too much, more than what was fair or what they were paying for. That doesn’t mean that the place is as bad as they are saying it is.
Diversity is the spice of the world, and that taste is reflected in people’s ideas of what they want or consider nice. Remember the pithy saying, different strokes for different folks. A review from someone you know about a place you are planning to visit will hold some meaning, but the same thing coming from a stranger certainly won’t, neither should it.
For instance, Koh Samui offers a lot to the tourists, from fine dining to food on the streets, from Thai to continental cuisine. But if the person trying out these things weren’t as adventurous or open to new experiences, how true would his review be? Surely, if you were to take their word, you’d miss out on the experience too. On other hand, sometimes hotels and restaurants give people discounts in return for leaving reviews. In these cases, people often feel like they have to leave 4- or 5-star reviews instead of honest ones.
TripAdvisor has a solid system with checks in place, so it penalizes if the reviews for a place are from their own IP, or if various reviews for different places are left from the same IP. Now the question is, how do you know which reviews are real? Can you trust them all or none of them?
When checking out a place, start with the negative reviews. See if there is a common theme. Are too many people complaining about the same thing? Are they all praising the same thing? Work your way up and you will find a pattern, notice things that will help you make up your own opinion. A good and original review will speak for itself.
From our experience in operating snorkeling tours, the weather played the deciding role in a review. We used to receive great reviews when the weather was nice as it made every body happy – it didn’t matter if the food wasn’t hot, or the boat broke down and there was a delay, great weather = happy people! And the opposite was true. When the seas were choppy: the speedboat crossing over was uncomfortable (unsafe & dangerous even!); the water wasn’t clear so you couldn’t see all the fish; it was raining! Now we’d loved to have been able to control the weather but we couldn’t, and we wouldn’t have ever taken the boats out if it was unsafe – we value our lives too! So just look out for those details in the reviews and keep an open mind.
You can also check the history of the reviewers. Fake reviews trying to boost up the ratings are usually from different new accounts, except all those accounts have only left one review each. Instead, see how many other reviews the person has written. Authentic reviewers will have way more than just one review in their history.
If you want to find out more about a hotel, follow the same pattern with reviews. Start with the negative ones and find a common theme to get a better idea. But remember not to limit yourself to online review websites only. You will find real reviews on blogs, in newspapers, travel websites, etc.