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Four Steps to Writing a Helpful Review About Your Travel Experiences

Online-Reviews-5-starsAfter buying or consuming just about anything, the Internet hands us with a megaphone through which to share our experience with–potentially–the world.  In hospitality and travel, it’s TripAdvisor, Yelp, Gogobot and the like that receive the lion’s share of sharing. (And sometimes oversharing.)  One could argue that the whole point of the exercise of review writing is being helpful to others; to give those who have no previous experience the benefit of your discoveries, victories, and mistakes. It can also help the hotel, restaurant, service or activity operator improve upon its offering.

In that spirit, here are a few tips for doing your part before you drop the mic.

1. Your expectations and desires represent some percentage of others’ expectations and desires.
Your sister wanted a doll for her birthday. You wanted a pony.  Sometimes, our adult travel experiences are still like that.  If you had expectations that weren’t met during your vacation, spell out what happened.  “I was expecting Mr. Rourke and Tattoo to greet me at the entrance, but when I got there, it was Schneider opening the door.” (You’re welcome, ’70s TV fans.)

2. Grinding your axe may or may not help others.
We’ve all read reviews by people who were scorned, not by a place or an experience, but by someone rude.  Sure, it bears mentioning, but you may be doing yourself and others more of a favor by airing your grievance directly with the establishment. When you call or write an employer directly about an encounter you’ve had, the establishment has a better chance of preventing a repeat performance. That’s especially true if your experience happened at a place that employs, say, hundreds of people.  Getting on the horn with the person or people in charge may take a little more effort, but if you want to make a difference, it’s better than shouting into cyberspace.

3. Balance facts and opinions.
Part of the magic of being on vacation is that your satisfaction, and your opinion, matter.  You’re the customer, and the customer’s right. Right?  Sure, AND it’s also the smartest reviews that include both the subjective and hard evidence.  Did you feel like housekeeping could have done more to tidy up your accommodations?  Make mention that your unit with 2 adults and 2 kids received a full service cleaning only twice during your 10-day stay.  Did you feel like the management didn’t care about your complaint? If so, what exactly did you ask for, and what was provided, when?

4. Include reviews by proxy–a little. 
What did you hear other people on your tour say?  You may have considered a walk with a lot of sun exposure on a hot day a negative, but the couple on the tour who had just endured four months of a Midwest polar vortex felt quite a bit differently. If you like to rough it, but you were traveling with a couple of neatnicks, include a few blurbs about what would have made them happy. Include some snippets of what you heard from your tour mates or others nearby.

Writing a review that does its job is an art and a science; what matters most is your sincerity and honesty.  Mahalo for doing your part to make the Internet a place where there’s a healthy mix of cat pictures and useful information.