Look for the collective wisdom when reading review sites like Tri

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I’m obsessed with reading reviews before booking a trip or before I go eat at a restaurant. And apparently, I’m not the only one!

If you go back 10 years ago, a new restaurant could be made or broken by a reviewer from a metro area newspaper. The same was true with a theatrical production. The power of the pen of those kinds of critics was extraordinary. Today, however, the traditional print industry is in decline. The wisdom of the one has been replaced by the collective wisdom of the many.

The review sites in so many fields have become so powerful that the lawsuits are flying. Yelp, which reviews local services and restaurants, has been sued again and again over issues of inflammatory or slanderous reviews. TripAdvisor has been subject to lawsuits too.

The New York Times reports there are 35 million individual reviews about hotels on TripAdvisor. As somebody who travels virtually every week of my life, I’ve learned how to decode TripAdvisor and know what to look for.

I don’t pay attention to any reviews written by British people because they aren’t accustomed to our hotels and indiscriminately love everything. The same thing is generally true of New Yorkers, who are used to cramped conditions and think any room is spacious even if it’s the size of a shoebox. Nor do I pay any attention to whiners about room service. (I never order room service.) What I am looking for is the preponderance of opinion.

Hoteliers aren’t expecting people to do what I do, where I discount people who whine or praise excessively. So now the hotel industry wants to have a procedure to force TripAdvisor to take down negative reviews.

Forget it! The whole credibility of the site is that it allows all the whiners and all the others to post away. With any review site, you have to look for collective wisdom and not let one complainer deter you from booking or eating somewhere.

As long as you do that, these sites can help so much in picking the right restaurant or hotel, and in making the right decision about ways that you spend money in your life.


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