Barbados government consultant goes bananas: says Tripadvisor “seriously rubbish”

Trip Advisor Barbados

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

I will be the first to admit that TripAdvisor is far from being the perfect medium and model for quality control, but it is a living, breathing reality that is accessed by over 315 million unique monthly visitors with the means to read a possible 200 million reviews and opinions – making it by far the world’s largest travel site.

So when a Government employed ‘tourism consultant’ who is at least partially funded by taxpayer’s monies, including the thousands actually employed in the sector, describes (and I use the words verbatim) “Tripadvisor is seriously rubbish – you get 5 bloggers saying how wonderful your property is while writing crap about a hotel next door”, should we be concerned?

Should we be concerned for someone who holds these views in such a potentially influential position, but perhaps more onerous, is willing and able to promulgate them into the public domain?

I cannot imagine that those managers, owners and operators of hotels, attractions, villas and other tourism most highly rated on Tripadvisor share his opinions.

I vividly remember when our small hotel reached the coveted #1 spot out of over one hundred hotels on Barbados and every single comment, with the exception of one, that drove us to this heady position was placed by guests who had personally experienced a stay with us. 

And I can tell you there is absolutely no room for complacency when you are in the top ten. You soon learn that if you get it wrong, any negative postings can rapidly and detrimentally result in a drop of rating and any negative implications that brings with it.

From the end of this month, with the dramatic realignment of lodging quality goalposts that will be created by the re-opening of the enhanced Sandals, many of our hotels will be attempting to play catch-up.

Financially starved after two of the worse performing years in tourism over more than the past decade and still without the promised concessions, it will be almost impossible to upgrade or refurbish any properties before the softer summer months. The hotels desperately need the revenue and hopefully profits from the peak winter season.

So if our sector is going to survive intact, the level of customer satisfaction and how it is reported on social media sites is going to be absolutely critical. It is totally futile and possibly dangerous to condemn what should be fully embraced as a largely free tool and extraordinary marketing opportunity. If the views of this individual are shared with our national tourism policymakers, then I can only think we are on a slippery road to self destruction and I believe that those at the highest level should publicly enunciate what is Government’s position on this subject.

Only in 2008 Barbados was voted the 8th in the world’s top 100 TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Destination Awards.

Again, it was our visitors who placed us in this enviable position. Should we also consider this amazing accolade ‘seriously rubbish’ too?

Do we really have the choice of cherry picking the good comments and ignoring the bad ones?

12 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

12 responses to “Barbados government consultant goes bananas: says Tripadvisor “seriously rubbish”

  1. C B B

    Trip advisor serves a real purpose and from experience an accurate report on those receiving comment. Bear in mind property owners and managers are able to respond to all comments. For the Government’s consultant to describe Trip Advisor as all rubbish seems to confirm Government’s intention to deliberately ignore very important matters, downgraded, and now the tourism industry

  2. Mac10

    That’s the difference between someone employed to do a job, who knows what they are doing & is passionate about the role as opposed to someone employed because their mother’s, brother’s uncle know’s somebody in the right place.

    A friend said the other day that the adage of “It’s not what you know but who you know” should be changed to ” who know’s you.

  3. C B B

    Old adage – or with whom you sleep. Don’t even need to know you

  4. Mac10

    Very true, I’d forgotten about that particular cherub!!!!

    Adrian. Loving your articles, I always try to read them when I see them. You should CEO of the BTA or whatever they call themselves this week!

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Mac10, Thank you, but I think I would have a very long time before that happens.

  6. C B B

    Adrian Loveridge is much better of where is. Free to express opinions which need ventilating. Yes those in Government he is a pariah but at least a voice crying out for change and illustrating the farces for which Government ministers are often party to.

    Continue on your battle for what’s right and to prevent the nonsense we see on a daily basis.

  7. Jack Bowman

    Adrian,

    As with mac10 I also like your articles and I always read them. They always tell me things I didn’t know and I always appreciate that. I also appreciate, reading between the lines, your sense of frustration with the bureaucracy responsible for overseeing Barbados’s most important economic sector.

    Keep up the good work, keep fighting the good fight, and all best wishes to you and yours.

    That said, you’ll understand that the two points that follow are said with the greatest respect.

    First, in my experience, TripAdvisor really is rubbish quite often. What makes it rubbish (sometimes) is that you can’t trust it. And it’s one of those services that, if you can’t trust it ALL the time, is of limited use every time.

    In its early days, when I had visitors in Barbados, sometimes I’d consult it for ideas about what the visitors could do. It was obvious that the system was gamed. It was clear that the reviews for some services (could be a catamaran trip, could be an overland “safari”, whatever) were written by associates of the business owner to boost their own ratings or trash the competitors.

    Plus, Barbados is a miniscule destination. For every visitor at every separate level of income and spending, there is only a tiny number of options as to where to stay and where to eat. If you’ve got more money than sense, you might drop a couple of k a night on a west-coast hotel in the hope you’ll glimpse a footballer or some bore from reality TV. If you’re on a budget, you might prefer spending your lunchtime in some windowless south-coast cavern with flatscreen TVs where you can eat burgers and watch the same footballers earn their couple of k a day.

    In a highly segmented market that is so microscopic, it’s easy to game the TA system. I wouldn’t trust it for a second in Barbados. But if I was planning a four-week, 5,000 mile road trip along Route 66, I’d at least consider consulting it.

    Second (and remember I say this with all due respect, as an ignoramus in the tourism business), I have a question.

    If I set up a business, and the business is uncompetitive, why shouldn’t I go to the wall? If I set up a business making really good sprockets at moderate prices, and then my neighbour starts selling better sprockets at better prices, why should I expect the government (that’s to say, taxpayers who will never buy my sprockets) to jump in and rescue me?

    All best wishes to you, Adrian. I pose the questions only out of genuine curiosity.

    Respect.

  8. Anonymous

    Strange how opinions differ but then as a BARBADIAN I don’t consult trip advisor before trying a Bajan restaurant…. I do read the comments AFTER I have tried it. As a frequent traveller, especially in a city with which I am cd totally unfamiliar, I obviously walk around and make either written or mental notes of restaurants I pass. Back at the hotel, it’s IPad and Trip Advisor Time and I go down my list. Most times I make a decision after reading all the comments for All of the restaurants over the past 3 months. Invariably I get what I pay for – good food; slow service; no ambiance; I litterally know what to expect before I get there.

    I do not use it for anything other than hotels, restaurants and eateries. Commentaries on attractions etc may be rubbish but Trip Advisor is hardly complete rubbish and the authors comments may be deemed similarly but then to each his own!

  9. Adrian Loveridge

    Jack, Thank you. I don’t view Tripadvisor as perfect, but if people read several reviews it gives a balanced idea. I am amazed how much it is used. I stayed in a brand name hotel in Key Largo, Florida and noticed that over 5,000 people have read my posting.

  10. Tripadvisor is a must in todays Travel market World, if you aren’t capitalising, you are going backwards.

  11. D Oracle.

    I have always used Trip Advisor, its never been wrong yet! I’m a syndicated restaurant/hotel knowitall.

  12. The Spook Who sat by the door

    tagged.