In anticipation of an upcoming trip to Auckland, New Zealand (NZ), I was in search of accommodation. With so many options to choose from – bed and breakfasts, motels, cabins, serviced apartments and hotels (to name a few) – I finally decided to choose Auckland hotel accommodation. Now my topic went from: What kind of accommodation do I want to live in? to: Which provider do I choose?
It's fair to say that if I had booked my trip through a travel agency, they might have been able to suggest the right provider to me, but in this day and age of online travel books, I had no need to talk to a travel agency. So in line with my online flight reservations, I also decided to book my accommodation online. First though, I decided to find out what other people were saying about Auckland hotels, to see if anyone had any good suggestions for me.
I've heard all this talk about user reviews becoming more and more popular in today's online environment, and I can now see why. It’s a lot like talking to your family or friends and asking if they can recommend a place to stay, but in this case, you have access to a wider range of opinions. The other benefit is that the feedback posted on the site is no longer filtered by the providers, so you only read good reviews, instead they are a much more transparent and honest assessment of the hotel.
There are many online travel review reviews available, but I must say that it is important to find one that is not just a general site that allows people to sign up and submit comments unanimously as these are open to unverified reports and even excessively positive and sometimes fraudulent comments from housing providers themselves. So my first step was to find a trusted hotel / hotel review site for Auckland.
This came in the form of an online booking site. Comments on these types of sites can only be posted by people who have actually booked and stayed at the particular Auckland hotel. This results in me being able to read honest reviews from actual guests. Not only that, but it was easier to read reviews on the same site that I could end up booking than to have to read one site and then find another one for the actual Auckland hotel I chose.
Most of the reviews I came across had a 1 to 5 star rating system where:
1 = bad
2 = below average
3 = value for money
4 = good value for money
5 = excellent experience
This method of assessment means that I could easily get a general idea of the value without having to read every review over the last twelve months. From there, further investigation into the hotel was required, which involved reading each of the reviews that caught my attention. At this point, it was very important for me to remember that one or two poor reviews did not necessarily reflect poor service on the part of the hotel. People have bad days and unfortunately hotels do. But if dripping taps, poor showers, noisy rooms or poor service are mentioned in a number of reviews, I considered it safe to assume that the majority of guests are right.
In the end, the one trend that emerged in the majority of bad reviews is that people sometimes expected more from the hotel than it provided. Such complaints as "the restaurant was closed at 11pm", "no room service" or "I had to carry my own luggage" all show in the investigation that these services were not offered by the Auckland Hotel in the first place. There is still the belief that a hotel has 24-hour reception and bar, pools, gymnasiums and a spa. Where as today's requirements have removed the non-essential offers and services to provide a better price to the consumer.
So, after reading several reviews and now feeling more informed than when I started, I managed to find an Auckland hotel that meets my needs not only in terms of service but in terms of location, price and amenities. In the end, the reviews were part of my decision and needed to be seen along with my own personal criteria to make my final decision.