Six days before leaving for vacation with my family (husband and 5-year-old daughter), I was paralyzed with anxiety — no, not about work or going to another country. I couldn’t make a decision about our lodging. This year, in lieu of the old-fashioned route of buying/borrowing dozens of travel books on Montreal and Quebec City, I decided enough was enough and hit the vast travel sites in search of the perfect hotels. Good luck. As a proponent, user and seller of social media, I am generally a big fan. But in the case of my own vacation, social media and technology became my worst enemies.
Across the board, each travel site offered their own value or rating systems — sometimes with the travel site offering its own assessment, e.g., 4.5 stars, as well as the users’ combined score, e.g., 2 stars (this is a true example). How is it that the likes of Orbitz, Priceline and Hotels.com have such varying ratings? And then the user reviews: “Best hotel I have ever stayed in,” “Worst hotel I have ever stayed in,” “Staff were rude,” “Staff went out of their way to make our trip memorable.” Of course, I also Googled the potential candidates and found plenty of dissenting blog entries. The endless amount of contradicting information was simply crippling. In the end, I took a leap of faith and, in some cases, the hotel was superb and in others not at all what the good reviews described (complete with screaming kids and a scary ‘don’t walk around at night’ neighborhood, yet providing a clean, large room). Upon my return, I posted my own reviews but have to wonder — am I adding to others’ indecision with another differing opinion?