Are Those Reviews Coming From a Trusted Source?

January 22, 2008

Today’s New York Times has an article on hotel and restaurant reviews. They mostly talk about TripAdvisor and IgoUgo (which I had never heard of until today) and compare them to Zagat. Most of the information in there has been thoroughly discussed before (user reviews vs. editor reviews, moderated vs. un-moderated comments) but one quote from Tim Zagat (Zagat’s co-founder) really stood out for me. Talking about consumer reviews, he said:

“Some Internet companies are running into the problem that anybody can throw up things on the wall, and after a while there are just too many people doing it.”

TripAdvisor hotel Arts Review Barcelona

What it means: Tim Zagat is onto something. He doesn’t express it that way but it’s all about reviews from “trusted sources”. A trusted source could be, for example, a pro reviewer/critic (aggregated in sites like Metacritic.com), a friend or someone from an affinity group (or trusted community). Some of the travel and review sites out there suffer from a lack of “trusted sources” and it’s the reason why we often feel like there’s too much information to process when we see hundreds of reviews for a hotel or restaurant. Why would I trust travelingmom526 or baroudeur2004? If they’re not direct contacts, how do I know if they have the same taste as me?

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4 Responses to “Are Those Reviews Coming From a Trusted Source?”

  1. SoniaC Says:

    This is a real problem. New sites launching into the space are notorious for pre-populating with fabricated reviews and in the hotel industry “innkeeper madness” has resulted in companies like TrustPlus to pop up allowing portability of relative trustworthiness. With the cure comes side effects though and there seems to be some push back from users on “toting yourself around the net”. Do you think that the solutions will have mass adoption issues?

  2. SoniaC Says:

    This is a real problem. New sites launching into the space are notorious for pre-populating with fabricated reviews and in the hotel industry “innkeeper madness” has resulted in companies like TrustPlus to pop up allowing portability of relative trustworthiness. With the cure comes side effects though and there seems to be some push back from users on “toting yourself around the net”. Do you think that the solutions will have mass adoption issues?

  3. Eric Says:

    But if you can find affinity with trevelingmom526, her review is likely more valuable than the trusted source, even if she represents a minority opinion. I believe that people will naturally gravitate towards the unconventional as opposed to the common out of a need for unique identity. It’s just not as cool to be dressed in exactly the same way of to order exactly the same meal. Trusted sources (Zagats, et al) are for me at best a confirming vote.

  4. Eric Says:

    But if you can find affinity with trevelingmom526, her review is likely more valuable than the trusted source, even if she represents a minority opinion. I believe that people will naturally gravitate towards the unconventional as opposed to the common out of a need for unique identity. It’s just not as cool to be dressed in exactly the same way of to order exactly the same meal. Trusted sources (Zagats, et al) are for me at best a confirming vote.


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