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Is TripAdvisor Legit? Is it safe to book with TripAdvisor?

Few travel sites have evolved and morphed as much over the years as TripAdvisor. What began as a relatively humble hotel and resort review site has slowly become one of the most popular hotel booking sites on the web today. Not only can I rely on Trip Advisor to be an excellent resource for finding affordable and top-notch travel accommodations, but it also stands as something akin to Rotten Tomatoes for hotels and stays.

In some ways, this can be seen as both a strength and a weakness of the site. Some people may not like the idea of TripAdvisor’s placement and ranking of hotels being based on the (sometimes rather uninformed and highly subjective) opinions of fellow travelers (as opposed to, say, a ranking system based on professional or official reviews). However, there is also a certain democracy to the site that many people find reassuring. The reviews and ratings on the site all come from individuals, fellow travelers, who have already stayed in the room or resort in question.

Where you stand on Trip Advisor, then, likely boils down to your view on social network-based review and ratings systems. If you find yourself frequently using sites like Yelp in order to discern where you might go for dinner, then TripAdvisor is likely to appeal to you. If you want my personal opinion, I would take the reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor on a place by place basis.

I like to read through the user reviews, as these are often telling as to how accurate the ratings of a given stay are. If many of the reviews appear to be written by ill-informed or spiteful people (you will be able to discern this in the language and how thoughtfully these reviews are written), I take them with a grain of salt. Still, I may follow up with additional, more credible sites that contain professional reviews of resorts or hotels (where possible), but I wouldn’t put too much stock in the ratings on TripAdvisor (either positive or negative).

Nevertheless, this doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not TripAdvisor is, in fact, one of the best hotel and travel accommodation booking sites on the web. In that regard, it does certainly have a lot going for it that other sites like it overlook. The main standout for me is, unlike many other hotel booking sites (Hotels.com, Booking.com, etc.), Trip Advisor compares the costs across several booking sites (their own included) in order to find you the best deal. This kind of honesty and transparency is a welcomed change of pace in the hotel booking space.

Also, an aside: do not let my personal skepticism of user reviews turn you off of TripAdvisor’s user-oriented nature. There are many ways in which this crowdsourced system of reviews can be, in fact, beneficial and not a detriment. Especially when it comes to the increasing number of home share stays that now exist on sites like Trip Advisors (and just about every other hotel booking site as well). It certainly never hurts to get a firsthand account of a stay (so long as that account is intelligible and fair).

At any rate, you will come to your own conclusions about the reliability of TripAdvisor’s user-based ratings system. However, in the meantime, let us dive in and see where the site stands on the long list of the best hotel booking sites on the web. Because this site offers a lot more than just hotel bookings and reviews … So, does TripAdvisor have what it takes to become your go-to travel site? Let’s take a closer look and find out, shall we?

Is TripAdvisor owned by Google?

TripAdvisor was founded in 2003 by Kaufer, Steinert, Shanny, and Palka. Although TripAdvisor ended up becoming, in part, a social site, according to Kaufer that was never really the intent. Of this, Kaufer says: “We started as a site where we were focused more on those official words from guidebooks or newspapers or magazines. We also had a button in the very beginning that said, ‘Visitors add your own review’, and boy, did that just take off.”

Sometimes a site takes on a life of its own. This seems to be exactly the case with TripAdvisor, which has resulted in its becoming something not quite like any other site to come before (or after) it.

How different is TripAdvisor from other travel websites?

I quite like the look and the interface of TripAdvisor. It’s modern, professional, clean, and sleek – all while managing to somehow maintain an air of fun and joviality. This is a nice change of pace because, well, isn’t that what travel is all about at the end of the day? Having a bit of fun? Too many travel sites, in my opinion, lose sight of that and fall into taking themselves perhaps a bit too seriously.

Based on the animated and colorful look of TripAdvisor, it’s nice to see some levity for a change. From the abstract owl of their logo to the vibrant cartoon images on their home page, TripAdvisor offers an exciting break from the norms of travel site design that really causes it to stand out from the crowd.

As fun and refreshing as this site is, it is equally user-friendly and intuitive. At the very top of the home page, you’ll find a series of tabs that serves as the site menu bar, allowing for quick and convenient access to all corners of this multifaceted travel site. Or, just below that, you can simply type in your desired destination and browse all of the accommodations available there. The site is set up more like a portal to where you’d like to go than it is a typical hotel booking site, adding further to the unique user experience.

The search engine, too, is powerful and intuitive. Easily browse stays with a comprehensive menu of filtering and sorting options for narrowing down your search results. Filter by price range, suitability (kid-friendly, elder access, pet-friendly, etc.), amenities, property type, distinctive qualities (waterfront, beach view, boat available, etc.), and neighborhood. TripAdvisor makes it easy to find precisely the stay for you.

How do I write a TripAdvisor review?

I think what surprised me most when I first started exploring everything that TripAdvisor has to offer is the breadth of features offered. It is so much more than just a hotel booking and ratings site. In addition to finding the perfect stay for your next big trip (and then reviewing it after the fact if you so desire), TripAdvisor also offers listings of rental properties, rental cars, airfare, cruises, activities and things to do in your locale of choice, restaurants, travel forums, and so much more.

As far as reviews are concerned, users are welcome to review just about every sort of travel accommodation you could ever need, from point A to point Z. In addition to reviews of hotels and stays, TripAdvisor also has plenty of reviews of airlines, cruises, restaurants, and more.

As if all of this was not enough, TripAdvisor also offers a pretty impressive travel blog. The site’s regularly updated, well written, and informative articles are an excellent way to get a glimpse into your destination of choice, as well as to find some inspiration as to where you may want to travel next.

Does TripAdvisor have an App?

In addition to offering a great desktop site and a perfectly optimized mobile site, TripAdvisor also has an amazing mobile app, available on both Android and iOS devices. It provides users with the same characteristically user-friendly and smooth interface that I have come to expect from TripAdvisor, while also providing some great features that make for an extremely convenient planning, booking, and traveling experience.

One of my favorite aspects of the TripAdvisor app is the fact that you can plan activities in your destination city and track them on a map. This makes it easier than ever before to both discover and find awesome activities, restaurants, tours, and more.

The app has an average user rating of 4.7 stars (out of 5) on the Apple App Store, and it is also an Editor’s Choice in the market of travel apps.

What I Like about TripAdvisor

-Compares prices from several sites, including their own, helping you find the best deal

-Millions of user reviews and ratings, all of which can be filtered

-Professional and user photos of stays give a more realistic expectation

-Great app

What I Dislike about TripAdvisor

-Such heavy reliance on user reviews for ranking may be a turn off for some

-Slightly less details on stays than other sites

 

Pros
  • Allows the user to compare results across other websites to help find the best deal
  • User reviews can be refined by the filters in order to find specifically what you’re looking for
  • Millions of user reviews and ratings, all of which can be filtered
  • Users can see both professional photos and user photos to get a good sense of what the hotel is like
  • Professional and user photos of stays give a more realistic expectation
  • Great app
Cons
  • Little information on the type of accommodation compared to other booking websites
  • The website can feel convoluted and confusing at times
  • Ranks hotels by user views and not all user reviews can be trusted
  • Such heavy reliance on user reviews for ranking may be a turn off for some
  • Slightly fewer details on stays than other sites