We have a Millennial friend working as a digital media expert/leader at Porter Novelli in Manhattan. He has assured us that At-Hand Guides is very mis-placed in offering expert, trusted listing ratings.
We trust no “expert” he intones, at a lower Manhattan sidewalk brunch some months back. The world has moved to “trusted peers” he assures with only faintly concealed arrogance and out-front certainty to us. User-ratings are the only way he assures us in 2011.
Yet, repeatedly TNooz, the global technology news site for the travel industry has warned the TripAdvisors, Yelp and others of coming problems as evidence of scamming and being played in their user-ratings keeps exploding. The Wall Street Journal has recently weighed in bringing visibility into the executive suite.
Now, the scandal has reached the “smart consumer” in the February 2013 issue of The Costco Connection.
At-Hand Guides, has from the very beginning as the germ of an idea to provide a better experience of Concord and Lexington, MA been 100% committed to our users having a great experience. We have no conflicts in providing our users with a listing rating. It is what it is. A very few places in New England are knock your-socks-off, must-see before-you-die destinations, which get a 5 star rating. Many, many more are OK, if you are already nearby, and have the time. They receive a 1 star rating. The rest are somewhere in-between.
Expert journalist David Horowitz, writing in the Costco monthly, notes that user-rating/feedback is much like the Internet worlds of viruses and SEO (search engine optimization) with “arms-races” on both sides of the aisle. Businesses hoping to raise their reviews and ratings hire reviewers with Craiglist ads, and sign contracts with reputation protection firms, while the TripAdvisor’s of the world try to detect and delete them. The game keeps escalating.
TripAdvisor’s Brooke Ferencsik, the Newton, MA firm’s top PR executive, admits that you have to examine reviewers’ past history, their badges and their travel history. Or better to go to your Facebook account and check with friends. Dah! Wasn’t that all the stuff we were supposed to lose by dispensing with experts? Simply trust those “peers”?
We would love to hear from our Blog, Twitter and Facebook friends. What do you think?
Is depending on the mob an excuse for not doing the full job? Are experts the better way? Or is a combination what you want?