Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Is this better than Trip Advisor? If so, how? Part 2

Now that I’ve gotten your comments on last weeks post, my short answer to the question above is, “It depends.”

If you are looking for reviews of just about any place you can think of, Trip Advisor with its more than 50 million unique monthly visitors and 20 million members is vastly superior.

If you are looking to get a deep understanding of Costa Rica Expeditions (and in the future other suppliers of travel offerings who we admire and will be joining us) then HOW WAS YOUR VACATION will be a much better choice. Our aim is to make HOW WAS YOUR VACATION  an oasis of genuine, uncensored, trustworthy, non- anonymous insights.

Our goal is go way beyond the ratings and comments on Trip Advisor and provide a window not just into the quality, but also into the style of the service.  This way travelers who are considering a particular supplier will not only be able to find out if they are good, but also whether the supplier’s way of doing things is a good fit with their personal style of travel and of relating.

In their comments on last weeks post, both Kristen and Paul emphasized a key criteria for both Trip Advisor and HOW WAS YOUR VACATION, trustworthiness.  It is important for both to not only be trustworthy, but also be perceived as such?

In this regard,  as you’ll see from this video clip from the February 22 2011 Today Show. Kristen is not the only one who thinks that Trip Advisor has a problem. (The Today Show will make you watch a 30 second ad first.  Be patient.

The next day the Today Show published Trip Advisor’s response on their web site.  Here’s an excerpt.

“We take the authenticity of our reviews very seriously and have numerous methods to ensure the legitimacy of the content on TripAdvisor. Only a small percentage of the content we receive is determined fraudulent. The measures that ensure the legitimacy of reviews on TripAdvisor include sophisticated automated tools on the site that we’ve refined for more than 10 years and …” You can read the entire response here.

Having corresponded with Trip Advisor regarding the same kinds of problems with fraudulent and misleading posts that Kristen describes in her comment, I have learned that you have to read them  carefully.  Note the claim that, “Only a small percentage of the content we receive is determined fraudulent.” Note that they are careful not to claim that  a small percentage is fraudulent.

Trip Advisor’s problem is that their main source of revenue is from advertising. This means to be profitable they have to be big.  And the bigger they are the harder it is to police for fraud.  So far their priority has clearly been to go for big over trustworthy.

But that’s TripAdvisor’s problem.

Our problem as Paul rightly points out is that it is natural for people to be, “…skeptical of proprietary review sites.”

How can we make credible our claim  that the feedback is “genuine, uncensored, trustworthy?”

We have already given this a good deal of thought. Here are the ways that we have come up with so far.

  • Don’t censor.
  • Give visitors to the page a  way to easily find feedback from guests who feel that we have (How can I put this delicately?) screwed up. We’ve done this by categorizing all the feedback into one or more of 5 categories.  Here’s how they look on the site.
  • Publish “How Was Your Vacation” as an Application on Facebook where past guests would be able to post directly without going through us.  This is under development.
  • Finally, and perhaps most important address credibility  concerns in plain spoken English rather than in the kind of  TripAdvisorese spin that I quoted above.

Is this enough to assure credibility?  What more should we do?  Do you have any more suggestions  for improving the site?

I’ll send bags of Gourmet Costa Rica Coffee to the people who make the comments I find most helpful.

And the bags of coffee for the comments on last weeks post go to>>>

¡¡¡¡¡Judy, Paul and Kristen!!!!!

Judy and Paul.  Please send me your physical addresses and whether you prefer dark or light roast, whole bean or ground to mskaye@expeditions.co,cr.

Kristen, Yolanda and I will personally deliver your coffee when we visit you in Cuba in a few weeks.  Let me know your preferences.

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                                                                                Why did I wait until departure time to check out your gardens? They are a perfect place to get lost in or just chill with a good book. But the gardens are only a small part of the enchantment of Monteverde Lodge. If only all resorts offered as much, from the umbrellas and boots by the door, to the coffee, tea and night time cookies, to the friendly and helpful staff.

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                                                                                    Dear Michael I havent had a chance to post in a while ,but thought I would share my experience during a recent , impromptu vacation to Maui , an after thought on a family visit , tempted by an affordable hotel and airline package . It is probably the first time I have gone on such a short 3 night vacation, but was pleased to know that one can do a lot at short notice .

                                                                                    We had already been on the volcano tour , and seen a luau, on our first visit to hawaii, so we cherry picked what we wanted to see.
                                                                                    Soon after we arrived , we rushed to catch the famous sunset cliff drive . It was a unique experience , to watch the diver climb up on the rocks and plunge into the ocean , to the accompaniment of Hawaiian songs performed in the lobby of the Sheraton . It was very nice of the hotel to allow all the spectators to get into their viewing area even though we were not their guests . Of course , the hotel was so grand that we ended up going there for their sumptous buffet breakfast. We went to the Hula grill at the whaler’s village and were surprised to be able to see a free,long Hula dance performance by various Polynesian dancers .
                                                                                    The next day we had to get up early for the day long trip to Hana, which was the highlight of the vacation. We were very glad that we chose Valley tours . The driver / guide, Uncle Willie , as he was called , was historian, philosopher , entertainer , all in one , besides being a great driver . He kept us on a momentary cliffhanger on a rock , on the road with 600 plus curves ! we pretty much travelled from one end of Maui to another and the long drive was shortened by his fascinating tidbits from hawaiian and local as well as personal history , and the pineapple and sugarcane trade in Hawaii.
                                                                                    This is one tour I would recommend to anyone visiting Maui . By the end of the tour we had practically become family ! After the long hike in halakalea park , we wanted to call it a day .
                                                                                    The next day we took the Atlantis submarine tour ,which was extremely well organised , with tourists literally coming and going at the same time , on board. It was our first time in a sub and we had a great view of the coral reefs , a sunken ship and even a shark ! We came back to Front st , where the main shops are, and went to see the huge Banyan tree ,over a hundred years old . It is unlike any other we have seen . We ended by visiting the Japanese mission Buddha, said to be the largest one in Us . We had one evening left , so we decided to go for the Ullalena dance performance , a truly Hawaiian experience . Luckily we had reserved before leaving for the trip .In spite of the language difference , the dance drama , conveyed the spirit of the people and hawaii , with passionand great stage effects .
                                                                                    The people are very friendly and we had fun practicing our broken Hawaiian . I have to add that Hawaiian airlines seems to be one of the few airlines to serve food worthy of praise . One almost feels that Hawaii is a different country.

                                                                                    • Hello,
                                                                                      By being on TripAdvisor, an establishment is just a click away from thousands of potential customers and since TripAdvisor is seen by Google as an ‘authority site’, a listing on it can significantly improve the page ranking of that business’ website.

                                                                                      Thanks

                                                                                      • First of all i salute everyone working in the team to make this work,

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                                                                                        • At December 29, 2011
                                                                                          8:12:46 am
                                                                                          Kristen said:

                                                                                          Michael, honestly I don’t participate in your blog to win prizes. Your generous invitation to our family’s travel company to participate in this innovative new way to handle client feedback is more than enough. The idea of publishing everything that clients have to say is something that I suspect not many of our competitors would dream of doing. I look forward to begin using the Facebook application and also undertaking a whole new approach to seeing where and how we can improve. I’ve even invited a couple of our Cuban suppliers to provide their comments on some client complaints…but so far they seem to be a little shy/slow/reluctant? (I’m not surprised, but I’m still holding out hope that we may urge them to be a little more responsive to consumer complaints!). It may take them awhile to get used to the idea that their comments (or lack thereof) will actually be published. Looking forward to seeing you both in Cuba. Besitos.