Reviews Reviews!

Why bother with a review? Right? I mean you’re too busy to be bothered. Of course you’re probably the first one who wants to know if the item your ordering, the place you’re traveling or the restaurant you want to try is any good. But hey, why bother, right?

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Well I bother. And I’ll tell you where and why.

First:

Tripadvisor. (TA) http://www.tripadvisor.com/

I’ve been a member here-don’t worry it’s free! for 10 years now. It’s my go to site for anything travel related. I’m known as a Level 6 Contributor with close to 2,000 forum posts, 142 reviews and 63 ratings. Another cool feature about tripadvisor is you can pin the cities you’ve traveled to and you’d be surprised how quickly your map fills up. Since I’ve traveled a lot of the world since I was a kid I now have 534 cities pinned!

http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelMapHome

One thing you learn quickly about reading reviews is who is honest and who is giving you a line of baloney. There will be certain folks who do nothing but post negative reviews. You know those people-the ones who complain about everything. And you’ll find folks who say everything is perfect every time. Now as much as we’d like to think that we know that’s just not humanly possible. Here’s how I approach writing a review. I tell it like it is. Even if I did have a bad experience I will write a fair and honest review about my entire experience. Perhaps the front desk clerk at a hotel was grumpy but when I arrived in my room I was very pleased. I won’t give the hotel a bad rating just because of one miserable person. Although I have to say it’s a rarity I encounter anyone grumpy at the front counter! But my point is this. Be fair and be honest. What you’ll discover is that readers will appreciate your efforts and trust that you are not giving them a line of baloney.

A little sideline about TA. It was 10 years ago this month my middle son was preparing to go to France and Italy to meet up with his then girlfriend, now wife of 9 years. I knew he was going to pop the big question (how? because he had me go to every jewelry store in town to find the perfect ring for her!) She was studying in London but I suggested they meet in Paris and travel to Italy and save England for another trip. They didn’t have a lot of time so I wanted them to get the most travel possible in their short window. I immediately went to TA and began reading forum posts, hotel reviews, and asking questions. I even created a new screen name in the event my son’s girlfriend happened to be on TA. Seriously I doubted she would be but I am the cautious type when there’s a surprise brewing! With all the help I found on TA I was able to create a notebook for my son to take on his trip. I even included romantic spots that were suggested on TA. The hotel reviews were so very important because we were using AAA to book and after reading reviews of the hotels they were going to book we had to make some changes. If you’ve never been to the airport in Paris you won’t know that navigating such a place when you don’t speak French can be daunting. With the help of my newly found TA friends I was able to help the two lovebirds with a meeting place-remember we’re talking 10 years ago so they weren’t carrying cell phones. Both of them in college meant tight finances!

In the end they had a marvelous adventure and found my son found the perfect place to ask the most important question of his life. In front of the Eiffel Tower!

One other little known secret about TA. When you’ve been with them as long as I have and you write lots of reviews, they send you gifts! Seriously! We’re not talking about a pen or a hat. We’re talking serious and amazing travel related goodies! Here’s a few of what I have received. Mind you it’s once a year and that’s more than enough!

Fleece TA jacket. Floating cooler. Travel backpack. Travel pillow from Brookstone. Big LL Bean style canvas tote bag-the BIG one. And most recently an awesome and very well made laptop case. I mean the kind you’d find on TravelSmith. One year they chose to do a donation to charity. That was actually my favorite gift. Hope they do that again. I do love their thoughtfulness but I also thank them for considering others.

Yelp! Yes I am a yelper too!

http://www.yelp.com

Need to know where to eat? Get a haircut in a new town? Manicure? Restaurant? Yelp does it all. One of the features I love about them is the filter options. Don’t want an expensive meal in NYC? Just hit the $ icon. Up pops lots of choices. Don’t want to walk more than 5 blocks, bingo there’s a filter for that! Yes Yelp has been a great help to me on many of my travels.

In the end I write reviews because I enjoy it. I like helping others who may be navigating a place for the first time. If I can help them avoid a few bumps in the road then it’s worth my time. When I’m planning a trip, which I’m ALWAYS doing, I want to know what places I should consider any which ones I might consider avoiding. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe everything I read and some hotels that had a bad review end up being great places. Again, there’s always that one person who complains about everything. But a good review is valuable to all. And I’m going to take care of that right now! Off to TA to review Ocean Blue!

http://oceanbluerestaurant.com/

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