Trip Advisor and Expedia are probably the two most commonly used Travel sites in North America for hotel reviews and bookings. I have no data to support that, but I believe it’s true. I’m more of a Trip Advisor girl myself, but I’ve been known to dabble on Expedia from time to time… There are lots of things both sites are good for – touristy activities as well as transportation bookings etc., but I am just going to discuss the ways that the two respectively rate hotels.
Trip Advisor ratings are very reliable because it’s a widely used site, thus the sample size is large. Often well over 1000 people will write reviews. Reviewers are given 6 categories, each with a maximum rating of 5 stars. The categories are: Value, Location, Sleep quality, Rooms, Cleanliness, and Service. The one category that I find a bit dubious is “Sleep quality” – it is questionable to what extent a guest’s quality of sleep can actually be attributed to the hotel. They also provide an overall rating out of 5 stars. Additionally, Trip Advisor provides a break down of how many travelers rated the hotel “terrible,” “poor,” “average,” “very good,” and “excellent,” so that the viewer can get an idea of the distribution of votes. Trip advisor then provides a ranking, to show viewers where the hotel stands in relation to other hotels in the area.
Alternately, Expedia seems to have a substantially smaller number of people reviewing hotels. Personally, I have always used Expedia exclusively for booking flights, so that may be why. I compared a few hotels between Trip Advisor and Expedia, and where Trip Advisor would often have something in the neighbourhood of 1500 reviewers, Expedia would often have closer to 50. That said, the ratings are more or less equivocal between the two sites, so perhaps Expedia’s small sample size isn’t a huge issue for accuracy. Expedia also provides 6 categories, also with a maximum rating of 5 stars. The categories are: Hotel service, Hotel condition, Room cleanliness, Room comfort, Location, and Neighbourhood. I think the Trip Advisor categories are a bit better – notably, I do not think that “Location” and “Neighbourhood” should constitute two different categories. Additionally, I think that the “value” Trip Advisor category is informative – it’s good to know if you get what you pay for. Unlike Trip Advisor, reviewers may review something to one decimal, so reviews like “4.8″ are possible. This may account for more accuracy. Expedia also provides a percentage of how many reviewers recommend the hotel (“98% of reviewers recommend this!”) but it is not clear how that percentage is calculated. What score does a reviewer need to give for their review to count as a “recommendation”?
One key difference between the two sites is that while Expedia presents only the average ratings for their 6 categories (and the total rating), Trip Advisor does not provide averages for the 6 categories at all. Instead, you can see the breakdown of each individual’s review score – ie. you can see how person A rated the sleep quality, value, etc. The only average presented is the overall hotel score. Expedia also does not provide a contextual ranking for the hotel, which I believe is a strength of Trip Advisor.
Overall, if you’re looking for a hotel review site, I say go with Trip Advisor. The scoring categories are reasonable, the sample size is large, I like that they provide an overall ranking, and I prefer their breakdown of the distribution of votes to Expedia’s % of recommendation.