A poll of 2,000 UK holidaymakers found four in 10 are 'obsessed' with scrolling through reviews.
An average of 14 reviews must be read before committing to a holiday, with 31 per cent feeling ‘extremely worried’ at the thought of booking a big trip away without seeing what other people thought first.
And a quarter even admit to potentially ‘losing sleep’ over it.
Despite this, 21 per cent have been let down in the past by misleading feedback left by complete strangers.
Relying on reviews
The study was commissioned by homestay company Plum Guide, to highlight the risk of taking an anonymous person’s opinion as gospel.
It projected real one-star reviews onto landmarks of cultural or historical importance in London and New York to demonstrate that even Tower of London, Tate Modern and the National Gallery aren’t safe from scorn and misleading comments.
Cognitive scientist, Philip Fernbach, who has teamed up with Plum Guide, said: “The consumer information environment has undergone a seismic shift in the last 10 years, and online reviews are now the predominant source of information that consumers rely on.
“Unfortunately, the average star rating is heavily biased, fake reviews are common and for experiences like holidays, different consumers can have radically different tastes.
“The research shows that people trust reviews tremendously, even admitting to being obsessed with them despite sometimes experiencing substantial negative repercussions of this trust.
“It would be better for consumers if they could supplement their reliance on reviews with more expert or critical evaluations that are not plagued by the myriad limitations of the online review system.”
Trusting strangers' opinions
The study also found that despite 68 per cent saying false write-ups have led to arguments and tension among those they were holidaying with, more than three in five still trust strangers’ opinions when booking or purchasing something online.
With holiday bookings on the rise this year, the OnePoll study also found the average adult plans to spend a total of £2,844 this year on trips – an average of £800 more than last year.
But for 46 per cent, the amount of choice and research required when booking a holiday is ‘overwhelming’ and ‘stressful’.
So, it may be no surprise that 73 per cent feel there needs to be a more trustworthy and accurate system when planning a trip.
Plum Guide Founder and CEO, Doron Meyassed, said: “For restaurants we have the Michelin Star, yet for booking travel, we only have the opinions of anonymous strangers.
“Booking through a platform such as Plum Guide, in which every property is subjected to a vetting process by real, trained critics, offers peace of mind and truly special experiences.
“To highlight the absurdity of relying solely on online reviews to find the exceptional, we thought it would be interesting to project some on to a few of the most critically acclaimed and iconic locations in London and New York to start a conversation which challenges our obsession with reviews.”