SCREW online assessments and ratings for hotels, restaurants, sights, tours or for whatever!! Seriously.
Machu Picchu is the most interesting landmark in the world. Followed by the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. That’s what the Tripadvisor’s “Traveller’s Choice” ranking tells us.
And, if we need proof at all that this rating-madness on the internet is reducing itself to absurdity, then perhaps this: a hit list of the most impressive monuments of human history. No matter if it is the St. Peter’s Basilica, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Great Wall of China (ranked 4, 11, and 16 on the list), every single one stands in its uniqueness and importance for itself – no hit list can rank this as it makes no sense.
This of course does not hinder online pages and portals to try anyway. Not only vacuum cleaners, world literature, and phone providers are fighting on the internet for starlets and best ratings, but also the travel & leisure segment has become one big assessment-center. The digital world transformed the traveler into a scoring judge who evaluates everything – from hotels to museums to tiny takeaways.
The bacon on the breakfast buffet was not crisp enough, the employees did not smile enough, and the towel was raspy? Oh, we are not going to book this! Even if the most beautiful hotel gets the smallest fault-finding comments, of course with the lurid headline “Never Again!”, potential customers will refrain of booking this after reading.
Online assessments were meaningful – once. It made travelers independent from high gloss and ‘photo-shopped” literature which made out of the most sleazy hotel a palace. Because of this, many hotels, guesthouses, and travel guides had to rethink.
Unfortunately these online assessment and ratings centers have become a market power. According to surveys the bulk of travelers rely solely on these sources and other information sources are ignored – e.g. from professional travel agencies and tips from real friends.
And even if these online self-proclaimed assessors are real (and not the competition) and have actually been where they say they have been, skepticism is advisable. The range of the reviews is stunning. The very same hotel gets from the “grumpy grouser” a devastating verdict and from the “unpretentious everything is great” a high five.
Also, what many self-appointed hotel-, restaurant-, or whatever critics not consider is this – every review allows a deep insight into their character and psyche.
Long story short – the conclusion is that there is no formula for your perfect vacation and trip.
The ones who do not care about rankings, lists, stars, and ratings; the ones who manage to leave at home entitlement- and performance orientation; the ones who get advice from genuine and professional travel bureaus, travel best or at least the most relaxed. The ones who want to google with a formula (ala – add quality of experience and hours of sunshine to the star category of the hotel and multiply by the hotel’s service rating, minus the individuality factor, and divide with the price-benefit factor) will fail – the comments of frustrated and disappointed travelers stay witness.
Of course a below bar room or a rainy vacation can spoil a trip. But a successful journey depends on this – if the traveler manages to adapt to his new environment, is able to engage with other people, forget about ratings and allows himself simply to enjoy.
Arno P. Prem, tourism & hospitality exec., est. ’90