Social Media Beats Concierge Service, the Sequel

Tom and I continued our trip with me looking into TripAdvisor recommendations the entire way, somewhat unsuccessfully. On arriving in London from Paris late Sunday afternoon we discovered that we were at the wrong hotel in the chain. Tom’s admin assistant had booked us into a different one from the hotel that I had done all the research about. As I mentioned in my last blog, we ended up taking the concierge’s suggestion and went to a pub around the corner.

When I finally got a chance to research the area we were now staying in, no easy feat using an elderly iPad, it turned out that as #703 out of 10,671 restaurants in London, this was the best in the area, with the exception of an American BBQ place. We were staying in the financial district where many restaurants are only open for lunch, narrowing dinner choices to mostly hotel restaurants and chains. Because Tom was in meetings all day, he was not interested in traipsing all over London in search of a better food experience, a decision I fully supported. We ended up back at the same pub another evening and went to a half-decent Thai place (#2930) for another meal. I was determined to make our last evening more memorable and managed to find a nearby area with several restaurants in London’s top 500. We were to have our last supper with some of Tom’s colleagues, one of whom lived in London for six years before moving last spring. We ended up going with his choice, an upscale chain that served English food, (#2493). The company was great and the food not bad.

On to Berlin. When I researched the restaurants in the shopping-district area one transit stop from where we were staying, we had the opposite problem to London’s financial district. The first 30 restaurants I looked at were all in the top 200. The best restaurants in the area were #1, #2 and #6 out of 4,252 restaurant reviews. My mouth watered just thinking about the meals we could enjoy.

After checking into the hotel we took public transit to the shopping area to look around. It was a miserable afternoon, pouring rain and cold. It took us a while to get oriented and by the time we figured out where everything was we were too tired to return the hotel only to come back out for dinner and decided to eat immediately. I had my list of restaurants, but I hadn’t noted the addresses, thinking we could decide which restaurant suited our mood and look it up on the iPad that was back at the hotel. After wandering around for a bit, we ended up at Movenpick (#639) for a reasonable meal.

On Friday we headed off to a square that had a number of places on my list. We really should have planned ahead because the first place, a pub that served German food, was full and we needed reservation. The next, a pizza place, was very small and we did not feel like grabbing a slice to eat while walking around. We went into several places, all full, before we found a Spanish tapas bar (#667) that could seat us after a short wait. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, although at first we were served the tapas meant for the table next to us.

By our final night on the trip, I had given up trying to stick to the list. We had some last-minute souvenirs to pick up so we headed down to the shopping area again. After wandering around for a bit we ended up at a Portuguese restaurant (#1,555) and had a very pleasant dinner.

This latest adventure with TripAdvisor brought home the profound effect sites such as TripAdvisor are having on certain industries. Because there was only mediocre food available in one part of London, the restaurants are not incented to improve and try moving up in the ratings. On the other hand, the Berlin area had so many highly rated restaurants that it has raised the level of food and service in the surrounding restaurants. This improving effect may always have been in play, but TripAdvisor and its competitor sites have escalated the trend exponentially.

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2 thoughts on “Social Media Beats Concierge Service, the Sequel

  1. I am going to have a try trip advisor next time I travel. I usually stay in youth hostels and always looking for a way to bring down the cost of travel – it really seems to be a good option of using trip advisor only requires a lot of work (research) but I guess in the end it is always worth it.

  2. I’ve never used trip advisor for meals, only to look up hotels but I may have to try it next time I travel. I find most times I travel I end up at the most boring places that I know will give a decent meal rather than aiming high and failing. Even though in Ottawa I constantly look up the new places and try them out.

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