I’m writing this sitting in an airport waiting for a flight.  It’s a good place to think about traveling and what motivates us where to travel and how to travel.

Back in The Good Old Days I suppose most people read through guide books and spoke to travel agents.  There were also the catalogs and brochures printed by airlines, railroads, hotels and tour operators. Invariably we poured of these, sometimes for months or even years before making our decisions and reservations.

Of course, in most cases, we were getting old information. The travel and guide books had be researched and written years before. Things didn’t change much in those days, or at least they didn’t change very fast, so if a travel writer visited a destination one year, wrote about it the next and then published it, chances are the place was much the same. These days changes happen at an incredible speed and what was fact yesterday is probably no longer the same. Look at the effect that over-tourism has had on many destinations.  In a matter of a year some destinations have either closed areas to the public or imposed admission charges. Where would a five year old travel guide help you now?

The other effect that all those brochures and catalogs had was that we believed what they said. Hotels and resorts were writing about their own properties. Airlines and railroads were telling us how good their services were, and we accepted all their claims.

The internet changed all that of course. The ability to create and publish websites almost instantly gave those promoting travel and tourism a rapid path to influencing our purchases. Similarly, the ‘always on and up to date’ news feeds have given us information that is current and relevant to our traveling decisions. We are much better informed these days.

We’ve also become much more aware of what we are being told.  Perhaps we’re even cynical and don’t trust what the owners of the resorts, hotels, destinations, airlines and other transportation providers are telling us. We’ve been taught to trust peer reviews.  Whenever you buy something online, I’ll bet you check the reviews and see what other customers think.

The same applies to travel and tourism. We automatically check out hotels, restaurants and destinations on sites like TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp. I write reviews myself and I’m sure you do too.

We should however be aware that some of the reviews are not all they make out to be. It’s not unknown for some reviewers to post critical or untrue reviews just to try and get a deal out of the supplier. Some of the review sites have also moved into selling the products they are reviewing. It could be suggested that they may manipulate some of the reviews to make more money!  Surely not, you say, but it has be been known.

I’m sure that you are able to ‘read between the lines’ of reviews and work out what is accurate and what isn’t.  It’s all part of buyer awareness.

A bit of advice though from an industry insider.  When you’re looking at the websites for accommodation providers or booking services for tours – indeed even destinations – see if they publish independant reviews on what they are selling.  An increasing number are doing this, and it makes a difference.  It makes them more credible and a better place to spend your money.

Well, the flight is being called, so I’d better close and get on the plane.  The airline says their service is really good and promise I’ll enjoy the flight. What do you think?