Know What You’re Getting

We live in an age of information overload. Often it is too much.  It becomes static, white noise in our lives, but we can definitely use all of this information to our advantage. It seems everyone these days feels compelled to to give their opinion on just about everything so the internet is chock full of reviews.

Whether you’re headed out for a bite to eat in your own hometown or packing up the car for a good ol’ road trip, I suggest checking the ratings and reviews.

Speaking specifically of making the most of your FANTASTIC road trip, there are so many aspects that can be investigated thoroughly through checking reviews. There are plenty of ways to make sure you know what you’re getting.

Before booking a hotel, vacation rental, or campground, check sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp or Facebook. Most actual booking sites have reviews of their own and simply doing a Google search will lead to reviews as well. When researching, don’t stop at the overall number (generally stars), but actually read some of the reviews… low reviews especially. Sometimes you will find that the reason for their low rating is something that doesn’t matter to you. This is especially important for vacation rentals. If you’re staying in a rental for a week, you want to know it’s what you’re looking for. Especially look for reviews that include information about the hosts or owners and look for their responses. Those responses or lack of response will tell you a lot about who you you’ll be dealing with. Often you will find a common theme throughout the comments that will give you a pretty good picture of the place.

In our household I am the review hound while my husband doesn’t even give them a glance. He has learned the hard way that time and money can be saved if you only take a moment to see what people are saying. We all know that word of mouth matters, people’s actual experiences tell the story. Learning from other people’s experiences can save a lot of frustration and bad experiences.

Responses from owners (hotel, rental, restaurant, etc.), or their lack of response, will tell you if these are the type of people you want to do business with. Prompt responses looking for clarification in order to remedy a potential problem or simply an apology for a bad experience tells me they care.  However, a snarky comment or an excuse simply defending themselves while not addressing an issue tells me they might not be pleasant to deal with if I have a problem to be remedied or they may not be completely honest in their business dealings. If they aren’t willing to handle their customers with respect, you probably don’t want to do business with them. Lack of any response says a lot as well.  Are they interested in feedback or only concerned with their bottom line? Are they interested in customer experience?

fullsizeoutput_5006My youngest, like me, is a review junkie. She will spend and entire day looking through reviews before deciding on a purchase. I am a proud mama! She understands the inherent benefit of learning from others’ experiences. I’m still waiting for my carefree, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants hubby to catch on. 🙂 Luckily I do the trip planning around here. It cuts down on the amount of unwelcome surprises coming our way. He keeps life interesting though!

I’ll always remember the romantic getaway he planned to one of my favorite destinations. He decided on the location and booked it all, which was great and much appreciated. HOWEVER, my spontaneous spouse booked us at a B&B… with a shared bathroom. Dorm style living isn’t exactly the romantic atmosphere we were looking for. Getting the whole story may have saved some awkwardness and scored him even more points to be cashed in later.

While being forced to see what the world had for lunch may be too much illumination, knowing whether that hotel, park or restaurant is worth my time and money is just enlightened living.

I challenge you to take a moment as you’re planning your next getaway and look over the reviews for all of the attractions, lodging, destinations and restaurants you are considering. Make it one for the books, in a good way, not one of those, “remember when we stayed in that motel and everyone got a rash the next day,” tales.

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