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Trip Obscurer

Trip Obscurer

Ok, so I admit it, I’m a bit of a TripAdvisor junkie; a level 6 contributor with masses of badges and over 19,000 of their (essentially useless) points to my name. I am even an affiliate.

But some of their decisions, and their technical support drives me insane.

Here’s a thing.

I not only review but I try, where I can, to improve their information using edit suggestions. This is a link on each page that allows you to enter additional details (Improve This Listing) which are then reviewed and included. Great idea, get free content and “fixes” by letting users add it themselves in a monitored way. One of the things I have been trying to add for a while, is correct postcodes, particularly for new places I review. But guess what – their form refuses all my efforts to give them free information. In particular, entering a postcode like “TR7 1FR” gets you the response that it is “not in the correct format for the selected country” … where selected country is UK. I have tried it upper and lower case, with or without spacing, every which way but to no effect! So I go onto their forum to place a “by the way, you need someone to look at this validation” post and the answer I get is “just leave the postcode out and the form will submit”. Well, yes, it will, but is that really the point?

Then we come on to the search. We tried a new restaurant locally and we were so impressed that I wanted to give them a great review. I searched and they didn’t come up, so I went through the “submit a new listing” (except for the postcode which was refused!) and waited. A few days later I had heard nothing and it still didn’t appear in the search so I submitted another “add a listing”. Then I got curious and decided to look through all of the restaurants in the area (Weston-super-Mare as it happens), I sorted them by name and paged through – well what do you know, there was  the restaurant listed! So I searched again … no joy. The restaurant (worth a visit if you are in the area) is called “la Tapa Continental” so I had searched for “la tapa”, but also tried “tapa” and “continental” and “la tapa continental” – none of which resulted in the restaurant appearing although I was recommended “La Cucina”, “Café la mer”, “The Railway Inn” and places in Cardiff (close as the seagull flies but a long drive via the Severn Bridge).

Frustrated I contacted TripAdvisor to advise them – their reply made it clear that they did not even read my email (something along the lines of “we strive to find the best match from all of the places we have to your query”), so I pointed out that I was searching for a restaurant, under restaurants, in the area of the restaurant using its name and it was not coming up. The reply I got was “I do apologise for the mixed-up. I just wanted to ask what exactly you would want us to do?”. Well, how about making search work? I mean, I run a site that searches millions of records for people by sound-alike and exact match and if I failed a simple query like this I would give up and retire!

Update, 31st July: Another email from “support” saying, “if the property does not appear in the search results then it is not in our database” … how very odd as I sent them a link to the property on heir website and it has two reviews already added. Are they too lazy or dumb to actually read emails before replying? Do they fundamentally not understand the purpose of search? Are they too arrogant to accept criticism/advice when they get things wrong? Who knows, but the more they respond, the deeper the hole they are digging!

Finally, adding holiday apartments – geez, what a mess. Pretty well everything can be added to TripAdvisor if it exists as a place or a “thing to do” but holiday accommodation is in that elite group of “oh no you can’t”. Why? Well, they want you to add it through their own booking system (so that they get a cut),  you know what, I put mine through a specialist agent with an exclusive deal. Oh, but that’s ok as the agent puts their bulk stock into TripAdvisor on my behalf – though all the links will change if I change agents and I am not, apparently, the property owner as I did not submit the details! Be advised if looking at holiday accommodation, TripAdvisor only lists those things from which it earns!

Good thing: they do respond to contact. Bad thing: they just don’t get it.

‘Nuff said …

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