Q – We just had to comment on your recent posting about TripAdvisor. Whilst we understand your leanings toward the upwardly mobile user, many of us just don’t fancy freu-freu accommodations when we travel. And there are millions of us out there who would never take an escorted tour, a cruise, or even think about having a private guide to lead us by the hand. A clean room,  a  loo, and a safe location – those are the things we need in a hotel. So please tell us why you are so arrogant when it comes to those of us, millions of us, who rely on TripAdvisor? I wonder what your reasoning is and why I should turn to the  hotel inspection reports you describe? Do you really think I would ever spend more than 150 Pounds on a hotel room for the night? Your site is clever and well done but it is clearly written for Americans. You might consider that the Internet is global? I don’t expect this to be printed but trust you will find a way to respond?

A – Your question is fair and well stated so we are pleased to answer. You are correct. For your needs, it sounds as though Internet searches, including the steaming piles of user feedback, will serve you well. The hotels you are using would not, we believe, even be included in the ratings service we referenced. You are also correct, our site is oriented toward the American, and Canadian, traveler. As you are aware, large numbers of TripAdvisor opinions are written by users worldwide. They do not, therefore, reflect accurately the cultural hotel preferences of the average American traveler. As a result, many of the “top-rated” accommodations do not include the  best properties in a location. TripAdvisor has taken some recent steps to clean up its act but the fact is that “Buzz Marketingt” is real. That is a new form of advertising that uses internet feedback to get good things said about your product while denigrating the products of your competitors. Many marketing departments maintain numerous fake e-mail addresses that they use to respond to popular sites. So what you see on the Internet is often tainted information placed there by savvy marketers who know that they have to camouflage product endorsements int the form of reader feedback or reviews. In order to accurately rate a hotel, one must have a very solid background in the industry and be able to place the property in the context of others in the same area.

Again, the only generally accurate reviews of hotels worldwide, are those that appear in the ABC Reports. They are the industry standard. They specify which floors and room types are best along with notations on a great many areas of service. They also address the expectations of the guest, informing the travel professional as to exactly what kind of client might find the property most appropriate. And, they travel incognito. The hotels never know they are being professionally reviewed.  There are many sources from which you can glean information. Certainly there are some wonderful blogs and the leading consumer magazines in the States. Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure offer tremendously helpful recommendations and updated reviews. But, for the person doing careful planning, it is, in our view, always best to have the actual official hotel inspection reports in your hand before making a hotel decision.