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Do Travelers Still Trust Hotel Reviews on Booking Websites? Hotels Pay to Be at the Top


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Online reviews help people select quality products and purchase with confidence. Booking travel accommodations are no exception to the need for quality reviews to boost buyer confidence. 

An astounding 77 percent of travelers look at hotel reviews before booking their travel. But with hotels paying to be at the top of booking websites, can you trust these reviews? Are hotels paying people to post fraudulent reviews?

We’ll examine the process third-party booking websites use for validating customers so that reviews are more reliable and what to watch out for in paid positions on these websites.

How Do Third-Party Hotel Booking Sites Work?

Third-party booking sites allow hotels and other rental properties to list their rentals, availability and price. These third parties then broker a deal with the property for a commission of all sales that they bring the hotel or rental property.

A consumer then visits the site and can browse for travel services from flights to hotels to rental cars. If the consumer makes a purchase, the third-party website notifies the hotel of the sale and the consumer’s selected preferences.

Then the hotel is responsible for fulfilling the service that the third-party website sold. One challenge as a consumer can be that the booking website does a poor job of handing off the sale information. Sometimes that leads to a scramble for the hotel when you check-in because they don’t have the necessary booking information. 

So while these websites provide a great service for consumers, they can also present challenges if you aren’t aware of how they work and what you should be aware of. 

What Is the Best Site for Hotel Reviews?

When looking for trustworthy reviews on third-party websites, look to these top 5 review websites.

  1. TripAdvisor: this website offers more than 8 million travel businesses. The company has a team dedicated to spotting fake reviews to help prevent misleading customers. Once you read up on reviews, you can book your hotel right there through the website.
  2. serves a larger European audience and has more than 30 million hospitality listings. And users who book through the website get a notification asking them to review their stay to cut down on untrue reviews or reviews from people who did not stay at the hotel.
  3. Expedia: is the largest online booking site with more than 675 million site visits per month. Expedia has a host of websites so that when a property owner lists their business, Expedia creates listings on all its sister sites. Plus, all sister sites accept reviews as well to help inform potential travelers.
  4. technically is a part of Expedia. However, it is another large destination for travelers to visit when they need information about where to stay and what to do in an area. 
  5. Google: although Google isn’t focused specifically on Hotels and travel, it’s a leading place people go to learn about travel accommodations. And consumers know that Google reviews are valuable. Plus, when a consumer searches the internet for travel information, Google will be the top result for information. Over the last several years, Google has improved its travel booking abilities. Pair that with Google’s mapping capabilities and you have a simple way to plan travel.

How Does TripAdvisor Catch Fake Reviews?

TripAdvisor is well known for its consumer reviews. What you might not have considered is how TripAdvisor prevents faulty reviews from showing up in results. It uses incredible AI capabilities and a review tracking team to spot reviews that might be biased, vandalism, or paid for by the company being reviewed.

Thanks to its super sleuthing, TripAdvisor has shut down 60 companies whose sole purpose was to write reviews for businesses for a fee.

Business owners can flag reviews that don’t sound truthful and TripAdvisor can look into those reviews. Sometimes, travelers use reviews as a threat to try and get free things from a hotel or travel company. If that happens, the company can flag these reviews to request that TripAdvisor take a closer look at them.

So the big question is, are TripAdvisor reviews accurate? The answer is yes, these reviews are as reliable as other review websites.

What You Should Know About Sponsored Listings

hotel reviews
Sponsored listings on most review websites show up at the top of your search query. They are not necessarily your best options.

When you view hotels on third-party websites, you should know that the top results are likely sponsored listings and not necessarily the best match for your search. In fact, these hotels might be decently far from the point of interest you put for your hotel search. 

And even once you get past the sponsored listings, the order in which you’ll see results might be influenced by the commissions that the hotel pays the booking site. Search results are tailored based on the interests the third-party websites have in earning a sale. 

So while these websites are certainly helpful in gaining information about what hotels are available in an area, you have to use the results carefully to decide what hotel is best for you.

How Best to Use Third-party Hotel Review Sites

Knowing more about how third-party hotel review websites work, you might be wondering how to use these sites to your advantage. Ultimately, they still play an important role in helping you find a good hotel and price shop your options. But you have to be careful to not put too much weight in the reviews and order of results.

Here are some of the ways you can use third-party websites to plan your travel.

  • Side-by-side amenity comparisons
  • Finding hotel options within the geography you’re looking to book within
  • Shopping rates all in one place conveniently
  • Customer reviews – just be sure to cross-reference these sentiments across multiple sites to verify the results.
  • Seeing how the hotel responds to customers. You’ll learn a lot about how customer-focused the hotel is based on these responses.

While some reviews could be ingenuine, paid for or used to manipulate the hotel into providing services, learning from other consumers about their stay can help guide you in making a hotel selection. Just go into knowing that you should read reviews carefully to see which ones sound balanced and accurate. 

Booking a Juneau Hotel

If you’re looking for a quality, customer-reviewed hotel in Juneau, consider Juneau Hotel. With 202 reviews on Google, we have 4.3 stars and take our customers’ opinions seriously. We’ll do all we can to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable and take time to listen to your experience.

For one of the top-rated hotels in Juneau, Alaska, start your booking with our hotel. And if you’re looking for an extended stay, be sure to check out our special rates when you stay for 30 nights or more. We work hard to provide pricing transparency and verify customer reviews so that you know you’re getting a quality hotel when you book with us.

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