Thanks in part to the glut of information sources out there, travel planning can be a nightmare. Simply put, travelers can drown in all the white noise. But now there is a site that aims to distill all of this information into one number.
TripExpert, based in New York City, provides hotel reviews published by professionals like Fodor’s and Travel + Leisure to eliminate the possibility of fake, superfluous or misleading user reviews. TripExpert uses hotel reviews from travel guides and magazines, plus any awards or recognitions bestowed on the hotel, and produces a number ranging from 60-100: the Score. TripExpert prides itself on providing professional, reliable and impartial information.
By comparison, Newton, Mass.-based TripAdvisor (TRIP) relies on crowdsourced user reviews. That can be extremely helpful at some, but not all, times, argues TripExpert co-founder Andrew Nicol.
There are also some major drawbacks to user-generated reviews, Nicol said. In the wake of reports concerning fake reviews on sites or even blackmail, Nicol wants to provide an alternative to the TripAdvisor model.
“As a traveler, I found that crowd-sourcing so often gets it wrong,” Nicol told BostInno. Based on Nicol’s own research, “it is because user reviews systematically favor certain establishments over others.” However, by eliminating the biases and relying solely on professional reviews, TripExpert hopes to enhance the process of traveling.
Nicol acknowledged several drawbacks to his system, namely that many hotels, which haven’t been featured in magazines or reviews, are excluded. Incorporating as many hotels as possible, worldwide, poses a challenge for Nicol that he hopes to over come. “We try to tweak the algorithm for hotels that haven’t been as widely reviewed and take into account a smaller number of professional reviews or rely on more local publications.” Hotels in major cities in the U.S. and in other countries are well represented, but Nicol does not claim to have completed the picture. When asked about his TripExpert’s system, Nicol admitted, “We don’t think it’s perfect, but it is much more reliable.”
“We don’t think it’s perfect, but it is much more reliable.”
The company’s model isn’t necessarily groundbreaking; drawing on the success of sites like Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregate professional reviews and expert opinions, TripExpert hopes to provide unbiased, accurate scores for hotels. “Frankly we were quite surprised it hadn’t been done before,” Nicol confessed to BostInno. Looking forward, Nicol suggested that he hopes TripExpert will become a serious rival to sites like TripAdvisor, one of the largest technology companies in the Boston area.
Nicol also said the company plans to add restaurant reviews based on professional and published reviews. Nicol thinks that restaurant reviews will present a “new challenge” that he hopes will be enjoyed by more people and not exclusively those who are traveling. To coincide with the launch of their restaurant reviews, TripExpert will also provide an iOS app.
TripExpert has also been working with travel-tech companies in Boston to enable other sites to embed the TripExpert scores, making the process “much more efficient.” Nicol also noted that Boston has a rate of international travel and he thinks a site like TripExpert would prove extremely useful.
TripExpert won’t eliminate all the issues of traveling but Nicol is adamant that they will make the process easier. Their algorithm and model will have to adjust over time to include more hotels in more cities, as Nicol hopes, but the service will still be just as professional. Expert opinions are still opinions—and published reviews are not free from biases—but TripExpert aims to provide a measure of accuracy that isn’t easy to find.
Image Courtesy of TripExpert