User-generated reviews of hotels, restaurants and just about every travel-related service are all the rage. If you need proof, look no further than Trip Advisor, which typically ranks in the 20 most visited travel websites, according to Hitwise, a service that follows these things.
But can you trust such sites? Travel guru Arthur Frommer questions the veracity of user reviews in a recent column.
I think he's got a valid point. On Trip Advisor -- and some other sites -- anyone can be posting opinions -- whether they've stayed in the hotel in question, or even if they own. That "open mike'' quality is part of the site's appeal -- but it also makes me uncomfortable. Some other sites, like Hotels.com and Travelocity.com, only allow reviews from travelers who have booked through their services and actually stayed at the hotel in question.
OK, so I admit I use TripAdvisor myself. But I take the reviews with a grain of skepticism. Those that seem most valid to me are the hotels with a large number of reviews, so I can get a real overview of opinion. I mentally discard those that are too glowing and too cranky, and try to focus on the middle ground.
What do you think? Are online reviews legit? Or do they make you feel creepy? Share your experiences.