If you choose a hotel based on glowing online comments — “OMG, I love this place!” — you may be relying on bogus or insufficient information.
That assessment came from Market Metrix, a San Francisco area hotel market research company, in a study that found as much as 40 percent of reviews could be made up or even paid for by the hotels.
And even if those online comments are genuine, the study said the reviews could be skewed because hotel guests with bad experiences are three times more likely to write a review than those who had a good or neutral experience.
The study also argued that young people are overrepresented in online reviews. Only 20 percent of adults older than 50 submit such reviews, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
But Market Metrix may be biased on the subject. The company is in the business of offering hotels what it says is a better way to gauge guest sentiments: guest surveys.
Earlier this month TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel websites, defended the value of online reviews with a survey of 2,739 visitors that found 98 percent said TripAdvisor hotel reviews accurately reflected their experience. The study was conducted by PhoCusWright.
Provo beaches top
Trip Advisor list
Turks and Caicos’ Providenciales has been named the world’s best beach destination for 2012, according to this year’s Travelers’ Choice awards from Trip Advisor. St. Petersburg and Miami Beach represent Florida on the list.
It is the second straight year Providenciales has received the honor, which is based on traveler responses. Trip Advisor said the ranking came from popularity from families, divers and snorkelers and newlyweds.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Aruba; Tulum, Mexico; Negril, Jamaica; St. Pete; Boracay, Philippines; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Miami Beach; and Varadero, Cuba.
Airlines not alone in adding fees
The global airline industry is expected to pocket more than $36 billion in passenger fees this year, including charges to check bags, connect to onboard Wi-Fi and purchase food and drinks. That represents about 5.4 percent of the industry’s overall revenue.
But a company that helps maximize airlines’ fees noted in a study this month that many other industries also rely heavily on so-called “ancillary revenue.”
For example, Disney Parks and Resorts gets 49 percent of its revenue from charges other than for park admission, including food and merchandise, according to IdeaWorksCompany in Wisconsin. Norwegian Cruise Line makes about 30 percent of its revenue from food, drinks and spending at spas and casinos on its ships.
Major land deal in Sierra announced
About 3,000 acres of scenic California backcountry in the Sierra Nevada will be permanently protected under a deal announced by two conservation groups.
Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows, at the headwaters of the Little Truckee River, will be opened to the public for the first time in more than 100 years under the agreement.
It’s the latest in a series of acquisitions by the Northern Sierra Partnership to conserve the Little Truckee River watershed.