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,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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