Dear Tourists, have some respect.
Trip Advisor. No need to explain who or what it is, this is most travellers’ go-to, when they are jet-setting to a new destination. It is the most comprehensive and easiest way to find information fast. Seriously, before the days of the world-wide-web, how did people travel, or find the best spots??
No doubt, there was a lot of hit or miss. Trip Advisor was founded in February, 2000 – but when I went on my first big OE (overseas experience), I didn’t know much about it and considering I was probably one of the last people in the western world to get a smart phone, it is fair to say, I wasn’t using it.
Travel to me was about the hit or miss, it was about finding new locations, experiences and restaurants, through – dare I say it – discovery. The best restaurants I dined in, were always down inconspicuous alleyways and there was nothing more rewarding than following instinct and stumbling across an absolute gem. I still remember one of my first travel dining experiences, we were in Thessaloniki, Greece and happened upon a tiny restaurant that looked closed, after poking our head in the door we were greeted by a boisterous, voluptuous woman who ushered us to a seat and took off to the kitchen, while her son brought us over shots of raki. This, to me, is hospitality.
Tourism has obviously changed over the years and most people travel for a long weekend, or a week and typically don’t have time to research, but still want the best experience possible. This is where Trip Advisor is great. Travellers share their experiences online so it may be of benefit to others. Majority of restaurants are on Trip Advisor, because to not have an online presence is almost suicide these days. A lot of restaurants have worked hard to create strong social media, deliver quality in service and food, and they have earnt their ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by Trip Advisor; so, I will not trash it.
However, this article is about the tourists who are ‘ruining it for everyone’. I was in Hvar town two days ago and given my background as a guide and restaurateur, I know a lot of restaurant owners. I caught up with a few and without any prompting or mention from me, every single manager or owner, told me the reality of Trip Advisor – that there are a lot of tourists openly using it as a threat.
I have been told this before, by a local restaurant owner but didn’t realise it was such a prominent issue – to have five different restaurant owners in the space of 24-hours, tell me that they regularly have customers outright demand a discount or something for free otherwise they ‘will post a negative review on Trip Advisor’ is really not cool.
Of course, owners have the right to dispute reviews, but in these cases, it is almost a matter of ‘he-said-she-said’ and it not always guaranteed to be amended, not to mention it is a hassle to think about monitoring Trip Advisor. Hopefully most people use Trip Advisor not only correctly, but also take reviews and ratings with a grain of salt. I would also like to think that people still ‘travel’ in all senses of the word and put down their phones and merely let their senses guide them…
But, to the small percentage of people using Trip Advisor as a threat, I just want to say this – have some respect. Business and restaurant owners work every day during summer to make a living and 99% are genuinely passionate about what they do. A restaurant is not a flea market, bartering should not be an option; you wouldn’t walk into an accountant’s office and demand a discount, so don’t do it here. It is not a game, it is peoples’ livelihood.
Be a better tourist. Be a better human.