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Monday, March 20, 2017

Paid Experts vs Your Peers

Traditionally we have relied on experts to tell us where we should go on vacation, what hotel we should stay in, where we should eat, and what wines we should drink. The articles by these critics were printed in magazines.

With the growth of social media everyone can publish their views on any subject. As we saw with the last election a lot of what gets put out there isn't even true. Still, a certain part of the readers will believe it because it's in print.

A wine expert because it says so right there on his web page. 
Why do they always look kind of stuffy?
image from

Yelp was the first popular review depository for customer evaluation of  business products and services. It seems that TripAdvisor is becoming the new spot for peer reviews. Wineries have certainly become more aware of TripAdvisor's power.

Specifically to wine, there has been the online CellarTracker website and now there is the Vivino app for your phone.

Are peer reviews by other consumers more important than what the field's experts have to say? Well, when I travel I use TripAdvisor and others because of convenience as their reviews are right there online where I'm researching and eventually booking. For wine I'm not so sure. Certainly online peer reviews have become a bigger part of influencing all of our buying decisions.

Then there's the question of trust. I try to throw out the top ten percent and bottom ten percent and look at the rest. Unfortunately, most review sites don't let you easily do this. Why ignore the best and the worst? It's not unheard of that some will have an axe to grind with a business and publish unfair or even fictitious reviews. It's not unheard of that employees or friends will give a business suspiciously glowing reviews. For instance, I see a hotel review where three people talk about bed bugs then another says the place was spotless I have to wonder.

Does this all mean wine, food, and travel writers no longer have a place? I think they do. What we have now is another data point to consider with online peer reviews. It's best to use both rather than put all you faith in only Robert Parker or Yelp.