Tag Archives: truth in travel advice

Trip Advisor’s Fictionalization

 Online travel site plays loose with my travel history, my travel opinions

TripAdvisor-logoWhen I had some spare time a while back, I added dots to TripAdvisor‘s travel map. I amused myself by clicking on places I’d visited. I don’t believe that I have ever written a review or otherwise gotten involved with what describes itself as “the world’s largest travel site.” Much to my surprise, the version of TripAdvisor that popped up on the Travel-Babel home page included a list informing me that my allegedfavorite travel destinations are:

My Favorite Destinations

  1. San Francisco, CA, USA
  2. Philadelphia, PA, USA
  3. London, UK
  4. Paris, France

Huh? I’ve been in Philadelphia very few times — once when I was very to visit the landmarks of the early days of the Republic (that was a day trip), once to visit the art museum for an afternoon and once for an overnight couch-surfing stop at the Society Hill home of a friend of a friend on a road trip from Connecticut to New Mexico. I’m sure that Philadelphia is very nice, as are the other three TripAdvisor assigned as my favorites, but they are not the four I would have named.

Among places TripAdvisor claims on “my” Cities I’ve Visited page are Redwood National Park, Memphis/Graceland, Colonial Williamsburg, San Antonio/The Alamo, Bloomington/Mall of America and Seattle/The Space Needle, none of which I have ever been too. It also attributes to me ratings that I never would give some of that places that I actually have visited. This is incredibly annoying, but is it truly important? Of course not — unless one hates having words put in one’s mouth or erroneously attributed online — in other words on principle.It also makes me question the veracity and usefulness of their other content. Should we trust their reviews? Their best-of lists? Am I just hypersensitive because sites built with free user reviews and other user-generated content has have undercut the livelihoods of professional travel journalists? Maybe, but I still don’t like my experiences and opionios fictionalized.