Research into your travel needs (from attractions to hotels) has moved to sites such as Trip Advisor that allow users to rate in mass. 

Small Businesses vs. Big Brands

Computer with the word 'brand' on it via (no attribution required)

Brands are used to guarantee quality to consumers. We trust brands we’ve had experience with had with them or what we’ve heard about them. I know how an Oreo is going to taste but a knockoff, not so much (unless I’ve bought them before).  However a rating system (like those provided on TripAdvisor) allows consumers to confirm or deny quality for specific experiences without needing to know the brand. This can be hugely beneficial to businesses who are unable depend on big brands to show their quality. Equally according to Gigaom this may lead to the splintering of large brands as there more successful venue attempt to drop any association to lower performing branches.

The fear of False Reviews

letters arranged to say 'hi haters'

Shamia Casiano via (no attribution required)

However experience sharing sites are not perfect systems. One of the possible dangers of online reviews sites is there animosity. Though sites vary on how they check the identity of reviewers, in most cases it is not difficult to set up a new account. This has lead to concerns around possible sabotage through false reviews.  The animosity and the ease of use could allow people (competitors, guests, trolls, etc) to make false claims to drive people away or submitting multiple reviews under different names. However, John Zhu has argued that these arguments do not account for the intelligence of the readers.  Most readers take into account the averages as well as individual concerns of reviewers and know better then to put to much faith in far out reviews.

What does it mean for travelers

More information to can help us differentiate bad venues of good brands (and vice versa). And the increased ability to find good small places to stay or lesser know attractions.

Click for more information on the next step: Staying Connected Abroad 

So what are your thoughts? Do you prefer brands or reviews? Should we be concerned about sabotage or trolling through reviews? 

Leave your thoughts in the comments.