Is TripAdvisor ruining travel?

Girls walking Alpaca in Cusco
Cusco, Peru, May 2017. Photo credit: Sari Stein

A couple of months ago, I was travelling in Peru. I’d just completed an absolutely magical trip to Machu Picchu, one of the world’s spectacular Great Wonders. It was a life-altering, breathtakingly beautiful, almost spiritual experience.

And the next day back in Cusco, waiting in my inbox was an email from the tour company: “Please, review us on TripAdvisor!”

Increasingly, businesses in the tourism industry live and die by their reviews. The word-of-mouth networks of yesteryear have been increasingly replaced by travellers on their smartphones, Googling a place to eat, sleep or visit in the vicinity.

Large hotel chains can survive on their global brand reputation and marketing. But for small independent restaurants, guesthouses, tour operators or guides, a “recommended by TripAdvisor” sticker on the door can mean the difference between survival and failure.

And do they ever know it.

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