EVERYONE'S A CRITIC
I'd like to jump to the defence of TripAdvisor ("Tripped up", Rants & raves, August 24), because I think, if it is used carefully, its reviews can indeed be trusted, and can add greatly to the fun of travel planning. It is possible and advisable to examine the TripAdvisor reviews for signs of dodginess - look out for contributors with a very low number of posts, for example, which can be a sign of a "reviewer" recruited for a purpose. Try to find places that have a large number of reviews - the genuine ones should swamp the fake ones. Also, balance reviews with information gleaned from the umpteen wonderful forums on TripAdvisor. You can also private-message the contributors to clarify points and find more detail. Using these strategies, we have found TripAdvisor to be a wonderful source of reliable information.
It is a shame that so many people don't trust TripAdvisor reviews and when reading the letter by Laurie McDougall, it is understandable. I use TripAdvisor for suggestions and have written 135 reviews over a number of years. I do not mention to the places I visit that I do reviews and I'm sure most reviewers would do the same; as is often the case, it is a minority who do the wrong thing.
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Having purchased an accommodation voucher online through a well-known website, I duly booked the hotel without mentioning that I had pre-purchased a voucher. Upon arrival at the reception desk I presented the voucher, which the staff seemed to view for quite some time. They then asked where I acquired the voucher and how much I had paid. I had been surprised at the bargain price as the hotel was five-star. It seems the hotel in question had given 10 vouchers to a large company as a thank-you for their corporate support. These vouchers were to be used by company representatives but it seems that the person who received them placed them on eBay for their own gain. The hotel decided to honour this voucher (it had been presented with five out of the 10 issued) but would honour no others as they were not being used in the spirit of goodwill intended. The moral of this story is to be wary of purchasing vouchers online because if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
I empathise with Luxe Nomad's annoyances from the average punter's inability to operate hotel-room lighting ("Hotel rooms that push my buttons", August 24), and other control consoles. I urge all hotels to road-test the user-friendliness of the control consoles they intend to deploy en masse. In Istanbul, I endured the pestering illumination of floor-level glow in the bathroom, which was intended to avert night-time falls. As no switch or button could be found to turn this off, I had to keep the door closed. I walked into the door in the middle of the night. The ambient bathroom illumination had the effect of causing what it was supposed to prevent.
Maybe if Luxe Nomad stays at less expensive hotels, she will find that the old-fashioned system for the lights and television will work.