Patrick McIvor Travel Blog, Chapter 6

In Chapter 6 of Patrick McIvor’s series “Have Shears Will Travel, Patrick brings forth the topic and importance of ratings. Whether that be a rating for a best-kept-secret restaurant in Venice or for a quaint beachside AirBNB in Nantucket, he indulges us with the importance of social ratings, the kind that can in peer-to-peer form that cannot be manipulated or removed by an establishment with deep pockets. We’ll let him explain…

If you have been following my blogs, you know I love to travel. I have been traveling for many years, both nationally and internationally, and for the past few years, I have been traveling mostly using social travel. One of the reasons I love traveling socially is because I get more diverse, real and truthful recommendations from multiple points of views and individuals who value a good review, or rating for that matter.

As a seasoned traveler, I have learned that, historically, any ratings that I could get to help me make my decisions for an upcoming trip—where to eat, where to stay, where to go or what to do—were mostly supplied by travel companies, professional travelers, books, magazines, TV shows or employees of a hotel or other travel-related businesses. Many times the recommendations were good, but sometimes they weren’t and sometimes they weren’t as up to date with their recommendations as they should be. But what I really realized was I was in a travel bubble of information, one where money definitely helped the big names get noticed, recommended and sometimes even hide some mishaps. I learned that maybe there were even some prejudices towards who was being recommended and even some possible financial gain because I was recommended to go there. Unfortunately, money talks; it can control what gets said and the biggest companies can get noticed by talking the loudest and even make bad stories go away faster with the right PR firm or crisis management teams. But with social peer-to-peer travel, those advantages don’t exist and real people’s opinions count, not the opinions of the professionals.

Have you ever had a horrible cab ride? Could you warn the next riders? What about a bad experience in a hotel or a room that was very noisy because of its location, would that be easy to find out in advance or let someone else know? How about if someone was attacked by an animal? Would you know if anyone had bed bugs from the bed you are on? What you realize is that with big companies like cab companies, hotels, and travel resorts, if something bad does happen, there is either enough money or noise to make the stories go away, silenced or be unnoticed. Not with social travel. I had a friend who got in a cab at an airport, and when they were pulled over by the police, the officer told him the driver had 16 points on his license. How about the car service driver who had a disabled “dead arm” and a license that had been suspended 9 times that crashed and killed Bob Simon from 60 Minutes? Do you think those facts would have been unknown or overlooked on a social car service?

When you travel social, bad things can happen, but the chances of repeated things happening, systemic problems, or employees that should not be servicing people are harder to hide. Why? Because reviews are part of the systems. When I get out of an Uber, before I book my next one, it wants a review of my last ride and experience. When I stay at an AirBNB, I have the opportunity to review my stay, the host, and the location each and every time. When I book my travel or transportation, I have the option to read the reviews from other travelers that have already had the experience, and ratings count.

Honestly, I don’t stay at any AirBNB’s that aren’t rated and I value the fact that I have a 5-star rating myself. Ratings make it easy to do top line searches and stand out in today’s digitally connected world that sometimes offers us an overwhelming amount of choices. Ratings matter because it separates the known from the unknown and lets you know where you can find the best experience overall. Ratings matter because the reviews that go along with them can give you little details that can help you choose from the final two or three options you are looking at. And ratings matter because your rating can get you into the best place offered by people who really care about their place and making sure it looks that way for everyone. No one has the ability to offer a great experience if their ratings are consistently poor. Ratings also give you the opportunity to have more than one opinion of what great is! The truth is, when it comes to travel, one person’s 5-star experience may not be what another person was looking for. But when you are rated many times and different people have four or five-star experiences for different reasons, those ratings do matter, because, with so many different opinions, you probably can’t go wrong.

I’ll be back next month with Chapter 7: Plan Ahead.

Photo Courtesy: Patrick McIvor via Instgram @patrickmcivor

Need to catch up? Check out Patrick’s previous chapters:

Chapter 1: Remember, You Are Going Someplace

Chapter 2: Packing Better

Chapter 3: Playing Games

Chapter 4: Reality Wins

Chapter 5: Collaborative Travel