To recommend or not?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

english breakfast

recommend or dissuade?

Generally when a survey result comes out it shows that the most trusted and most sought after customer satisfaction comment is a recommendation made by a friend or colleague. Tour operators, airlines, hotels, car manufacturers – indeed just about every industry – jumps to publicise the fact. But is a personal recommendation of any value? Should you believe it?
Recently I recommended a restaurant to a couple. They loathed it. Why? The ambience suited me in that it was lively; they seemed to prefer a place where it was as quiet as the grave. Their view was that the place was mediocre, mine is unchanged. But will I recommend it to anyone else? Probably not unless I know a lot more about their likes and dislikes.
A similar incident took place over a hotel. A couple wanted somewhere central in a city and somewhere not too expensive. And, of course, as a travel writer I should know somewhere. I recommended a place only to find out that they didn’t consider it expensive at all. At £67 a night they thought it was almost a hostel. By “not expensive” they meant about £200 per night.
So we all have different attitudes, different approaches to life and different ideas on what the same words like “expensive” mean. And this is why recommendations may not be worth the paper they are written on.
Take review sites like TripAdvisor for example. A review is a recommendation or a disparagement but one not often based on an unbiased view. A trained restaurant or hotel critic might be able to write dispassionately but most of us rely on what suits us. And that’s the problem with a recommendation.
So will I recommend again? Probably not. Will I believe one when somebody recommends something to me Probably not? And will I believe those surveys? Absolutely not.

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