When reviewing hotels, most of us try to deliver those nuggets of intel that will be most helpful to our fellow travelers. But what are these, exactly? You’ll find clever tips in our TripAdvisor Guide to Writing Helpful Reviews but, as a professional travel critic, I thought I’d share one more simple trick: Give the who, what, when, where, and why.
Say who was traveling and why—vacation with the kids? business trip alone? romantic getaway?—so readers know immediately how relevant your review will be to their own situation.
What did you learn that is not on the hotel’s website but that people should know? Include what surprised you or what you wish somebody had told you ahead of time. (Example: “If only I’d known there are no restaurants nearby, so you’re forced to eat in the hotel’s overpriced one or take an expensive cab ride.”) Point out any major discrepancies between what was advertised and what was delivered.
What month or week were you there, and what were the pros and cons of that timing? (For instance, was the place jam-packed or blissfully empty?) Were local conditions suited to the goal of your trip? (If your main goal was to do water sports, for instance, were the water and wind conditions good in August?) Timing info is particularly important when you review local attractions—such as this popular activity in Vienna, which is better some months than others.
Give location information. Is the hotel hard or easy to reach? What about the location might take people by surprise? (How far is it really from the hotel to the beach? Or from the hotel to the old town?) What’s the best way to get there, and what’s in the immediate neighborhood? Try to include your room location within the property, your room type, and the pros and cons of each. Snap a photo of the view from your room (add a bit of the window for context) and record your room number, so you can add these to your review as a Room Tip.
What was the goal of your trip, and did the hotel meet it? Why or why not? (My goal in Manchester, Vermont, for example, was a kid-friendly vacation for Christmas/New Year’s, whereas my purpose in Geneva, Switzerland, was an overnight layover on a business trip.) Also, when giving an opinion, always give the reason why. Example: “The hotel has a convenient location because it’s only a three-minute walk from the train station.”
You’ll find more advice from Wendy at WendyPerrin.com.