Saturday, August 2, 2008

How to Read An Online Vacation Review

Vacations equal good times. Or do they? Have you ever noticed that the majority of reviews you read online are negative? There is a simple reason for this. When people have a good experience, they tell their friends but when people have a bad experience, they want to tell the world. Reading these reviews can be funny, interesting, and even educational. The negative reviews usually stem from one or two instances that cause the entire trip to spiral into the abyss of ruined trips. I can relate - when something goes very wrong , I sometimes cannot think about anything else except that issue. I usually accept whatever resolution is offered, and luckily my wife is always there to talk me down and set me straight. Unfortunately for others, she isn’t there to help their situation. Thus ensues the ultimate rip of the vacation, hotel, cruise ship, or whatever entity has become the enemy. There are three types of complainers: Those who complain and accept the resolution without letting it ruin their good time, those who no matter what is offered will complain until the day they die, and those who complain about problems that cannot be fixed.
First, you need to learn to “read between the lines”. Look at what actually went wrong and if they tried to get the problem resolved. Second, if the problem was resolved, was it to the satisfaction of the complainer? When I look at reviews of hotels or tours I do not shy away just because I see a negative review. I compare the negative reviews to the positive reviews. There is no math involved, just keep an open mind. And third, if you read one review, read them all. Since most of the issues have to do with customer service or cleanliness lets consider that all humans make mistakes and everybody has bad days. If a complainer had a problem that was resolved I am very happy for them. If they continue to complain then I wonder what else, if anything, could have made them happy. Often the complainer’s anger threshold limit has already been reached and no amount of apologizing or cajoling will pull them back to fun vacationland. I find it amusing to listen to people complain about problems such as cabin/hotel room size, weather, or crowds. There is no amount of black magic or wizardry that can change these things. If I had a dollar for every first time cruiser that complained about the cabin size or better yet, the bathroom size on board a ship, I could afford to cruise for free on the residuals alone. When reading vacation reviews, you have to remember that sometimes one person’s good time is another person’s nightmare. Vacation reviews are perspectives to be used as guidelines for making choices not predictions.

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