Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Goodbye TripAdvisor; hello Yelp

Since the launch of my blog, I have always encouraged readers to share travel experiences through their preferred vehicle.  TripAdvisor was one of the first and it was the vehicle that I have used for many of the past years.  Given many years of devotion to TripAdvisor I was reluctant to change but a recent experience has pushed me over the edge and I have made the decision to move on to Yelp.

My family recently returned from a college exploration trip and had a horrendous stay at the Quality Suites in Cockeysville, MD.  As I do for almost all hotels, I carefully prepared a review and submitted it on TripAdvisor.   Thereafter, I waited and waited… and waited.  About 2-3 weeks after the submission, I receive a rejection email relating that I have violated TripAdvisor policy.  One of the hotel guests had screamed a profanity and I had used asterisks to obscure the obscenity in quoting what transpired.  I learned that this was not acceptable on TripAdvisor.  In taking a second look at my review noticed that I had also made a specific remark that we had not used profanity despite spending over a half hour trying to check out.  I thought that this may also have been misconstrued so I removed it.  Thereafter, I resubmitted my review and once again waited about a week to receive another rejection for the same reason.  I made another thorough read through my submission and the only thing I could identify that might explain this rejection is that I identified the specific address of “Beaver Dam Road”.  At this point I looked through TripAdvisor for a phone number or a ready contact.  I learned that there is no quick way to contact TripAdvisor – eventually I worked my way through their online form to let them know I had had enough.  It would seem to me that if reviewers reach a certain level, they should receive some sort of easy contact when they get a rejection other than the standard “don’t respond to this email / unmonitored mailbox” message.

While this incident put me over the edge there were many signs along the way to point me to this path.  First, as of late, I have found myself using Yelp much more frequently than TripAdvisor.  Yelp has expanded much farther than just restaurants and they include a much wider array of attractions than TripAdvisor.  Case in point is that on a past trip to Venice, FL I had a great experience with a Goodwill that was a dedicated used book store.  I had asked TripAdvisor to add this to their attractions and their response was that they do not cover these type of attractions… hmmm, your name is “TripAdvisor” but you seem to want to limit your advice to only the attractions that you feel are worthy… well, I’m a traveler and if I tell you that a place is worthy for other travelers shouldn’t that merit some consideration?

I’ll also note that the process for requesting a new attraction or entity in TripAdvisor is painful.  How to even do this is extremely obscure on TripAdvisor.  In addition to needing to rule out existing listings (which I understand and acknowledge as necessary), TripAdvisor will require you to go line by line to identify the name, address, state, zip, url, etc. and the online form will reject your entry if it does not think the data is valid.  It seems like it should be a much more user friendly experience.  Specifically, I think if you can provide a URL that has all of this information, why should users be forced to perform all this data entry and be frustrated with rejections due to form validation issues?

Another beef that has become more of an issue with TripAdvisor is the number and aggressiveness of their popup windows.  Just because I’m researching a business does not mean that I want 1 or 2 windows popping up to try to get me to book with whomever.  It is very annoying.

While I will miss the credibility that my years of reviews on TripAdvisor has established, it is time for a change… hello Yelp!

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