Going somewhere new or looking for fresh inspiration for your next trip? TripAdvisor can open your eyes to experiences and adventures that you didn’t know existed. But TripAdvisor has been accused on not doing enough to vet its reviews.
Value is usually top-of-mind for folks planning a trip, and TripAdvisor’s community is significant for its enormous breadth. Instead of seeing just a handful of reviews for each listing, as you might on other travel sites, here you’ll often find thousands of firsthand opinions offering insight into nuances that you might otherwise miss.
Have a question? Create a profile and ask the community in the open forum, whether you’re wondering about how to cross the border in Ireland or where to find good pizza in NYC. But keep in mind that the TripAdvisor community tends to be straightforward and honest — criticism included.
The sheer amount of travel products available.
If you’ve got travel FOMO, TripAdvisor’s wide breadth of options guarantees you won’t miss a thing. Booking a flight? TripAdvisor lets you compare rates from Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire and Cheapflightsfares all at once. It covers 136,000 destinations worldwide, has hundreds of things to do in hot spots like Las Vegas, Paris or Tokyo, and even has collections of top restaurants for your pursuing.
Take its New York City listings as an example:
NYC hotels — 500+ options
NYC vacation rentals — 1,450+ options
Things to do in NYC — 1,300+ options
Restaurants in NYC — 10,580+ options
General forum — 199,000+ posts
Data obtained October 2019
The Great Debate: Are TripAdvisor’s top-rated picks trustworthy?
A consumer protection website based in the UK called Which? accused TripAdvisor in September 2019 of allowing fake reviews to boost hotel rankings to top 10 status. It claims that TripAdvisor doesn’t do enough to protect against fraudsters.
For example, Which? found that for two of the top-rated Las Vegas hotels, nearly half of the 5-star ratings came from users that’d never reviewed anything else on the site — a pattern that it didn’t find in other big cities like London, Paris and Barcelona. Which? considers this evidence of fake reviews.
TripAdvisor retorted that Which?’s analysis leans too heavily on assumptions and doesn’t consider accurate data. In its annual transparency report, TripAdvisor states that 97.9% user-submitted reviews were not fraudulent, 1.5% of reviews are blocked before posting, and 0.6% are removed after posting. In all, TripAdvisor determined 2.10 were fraudulent.
But how does TripAdvisor decide which reviews to weed out? Here’s a summary of its rules:
Relevant and unbiased. The review must be explicitly about a TripAdvisor listing, and it must be helpful to potential travelers. Comments that are meant for promotional purposes — that is, trying to sell you something — are not allowed.
First-hand. People can’t lend secondhand advice — all reviews must recount personal experiences.
Straightforward. Writing should be conversational and easy to read, without excess characters or spaces.
What is TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor is a travel site that serves as both an informational guide, offering details about how to navigate and plan a visit to a new destination, as well as a booking platform where users can purchase key travel highlights, like tours and vacation rentals.
TripAdvisor has a massive online presence that includes:
About 490 million unique monthly visitors.
Over 8.4 million options for accommodations, airlines, experiences and restaurants.
More than 795 million reviews and opinions posted by its online travel community.
A portfolio of over 20 travel booking websites around the world, including FlipKey, BookingBuddy and Family Vacation Critic.
Data obtained October 2019
What can I buy from TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor can help you research and plan an entire trip. But when you’re ready to make a purchase, it might send you to a third party site. Here’s the breakdown:
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.
No booking fees on tours. Because it earns commission from the provider you choose, TripAdvisor doesn’t tag-on extra fees when you book a tour or activity.
Payment Protection policy. For vacation rentals, TripAdvisor refunds up to $10,000 if the property isn’t as advertised, or if you can’t enter the property.
No strings attached. It doesn’t cost a thing to research a trip on TripAdvisor. Glean ideas and information to maximize your trip without paying a travel agent for similar information.
Too many choices can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for a finely curated selection — or are in a crunch for time — TripAdvisor’s giant database may be frustrating.
You’ll be sent off the site to complete a booking. If you’re purchasing anything from its Things to do or Vacation rentals tabs, you’ll be sent elsewhere to complete the purchase.
TripAdvisor is a resource for researching and planning your next trip — whether for work or pleasure. But if you’d rather book your trip from start to finish without being redirected to a different provider, browse our top-rated travel websites.
Frequently asked questions
Verified badges are given to accounts or users whose identities have been confirmed by TripAdvisor. You might see a verified badge listed next to public figures, celebrities or global brands.
Yes. Not only can you book vacation and activities on its app, but use it to look for things to do while you’re on your trip.
After logging in or creating an account, there are two ways to write a TripAdvisor review:
From a listing page. Scroll down to the reviews section. Click Write a Review.
From the TripAdvisor home page or your profile. Click Write a Review, which is located on the left side of the page.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
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