TripAdvisor names top Australian contributor Jolyon Philcox with the highest number of reviews for 2014

TripAdvisor has a very dedicated army of reviewers in Australia, but none as prolific as Jolyon Philcox, who joined the Tripadvisor community in 2009 to "show his friends what they were missing out on".

Philcox has travelled to 54 countries, clocking up over a million miles of travel, or 40 per cent of the world, since 2009 and penned a whopping 1388 reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants during 2014.

"I feel it's my duty to spread the word and encourage others to have similar experiences," he explains of his compulsion.

It's a tally that almost puts the Chinese 'super reviewers' for daodao, TripAdvisor's equivalent website in China, to shame.

One contributor for daodao had posted 2633 reviews since 2010. Another tallied 1361 since October 2013, including 51 hotels in Paris during a single month.

The reviews were later deemed fraudulent and removed from the site.

Philcox has genuinely posted 50 reviews of Paris in one month, and in one instance added 17 reviews to his arsenal in one day – a mammoth effort. 

More than 300 million travellers use TripAdvisor to research their trip each month, and more than 115 new contributions are posted every minute.

Hoteliers insist these reviews can make or break their business, and the more unscrupulous ones have attempted fining those posting negatively, or merely added glowing reviews of their own hotels.


Regardless, users such as Philcox rely on TripAdvisor to plan their trips, finding its up-to-date information posted by like-minded travellers irresistible.

"Information and reviews are constantly being uploaded, so it's incredibly up-to-date." he explains.

"What appeals to me most is how varied the personalities are who contribute to the site each day. There are so many opinions and experiences to follow so you're guaranteed to find a review that resonates with you."

And reviews are often a matter of taste. Take Philcox's Melbourne reviews, which awards five stars to the Great Ocean Road, and a karaoke bar. The Royal Exhibition Building and Flinders Street Station get four stars apiece, as does a burger chain.

Recently the Australian War Memorial in Canberra was voted the number one landmark in Australia and also in the South Pacific by TripAdvisor users.

It's these varying personalities and tastes that lead some travellers to slate some of the world's most famous sites, leaving some people sceptical about how reliable or genuine these reviews actually are.

Tripadvisor was also recently fined by an Italian watchdog for publishing misleading information, following a seven-month investigation, for fake reviews. in 2010, The Telegraph in London created a fake hotel, reviewing with blatant hyperbole and five stars, to prove their point.

Given the diversity of taste and experience among the site's reviewers cannot always accurately or fairly represent a place, Philcox advises TripAdvisor users to choose reviews written by like-minded people.

"I can view the profile of the reviewer and instantly see if they share the same travel values and expectations," he says.

"For example: I am more of a budget traveller so my experience may not reflect the same as someone looking for five-star service."

Philcox has a rough idea of the the place before he looks it up on the site and avoids reading bad reviews "unless they are recurring".

He claims you can easily tell the places he likes by the length of the review, and you'll struggle to find any 'poo in the kettle'-type critiques here; the closest is of a mugging he experienced in Quito's Plaza San Blas: "I sensed an air of danger".

The highlights of his travels are rarely to the expected ones, and are often quirky or unusual.

"While the Inca Trail was fantastic, full of ancient ruins, it was the hummingbirds at one of the campsites I remember most vividly," he reveals.

Philcox is fond of sites that have historical significance such as the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan. "It was one of those experiences which will stay with me forever," he says.

"One of my favourite reviews is Montmartre in Paris where I mention some of the sights from the film Amelie. Bohemian areas such as this and Melbourne's own Fitzroy are amongst my favourite places in the world."

For someone who's seen more of the world than most, it's fair to assume some of the places left on his bucket list aren't on everyone's radar, including Baikonur Cosmodrome, a space launch facility in Kazakhstan, or "a deserted village just outside Chernobyl, Ukraine".

"I feel sorry for unloved attractions that no one visits, and come over all protective," he admits. "One that springs to mind is a Viking ship burial in Sweden, which is pretty rare and surprisingly not reviewed by anyone. Some attractions I write about are very obscure."

TripAdvisor's second most prolific contributor was SuzieLee71, or Suzie Lee, who wrote 87 accommodation reviews in 2014. RonWambera, or Ron Scott, contributed the most restaurant reviews for 2014, adding 348 to the site. He says of TripAdvisor, "I always stumble across hidden gems and secret places that are not in brochures."