Owning a tour company or hotel in Vietnam would be brutal. For starters, you’d be one of many doing the exact same thing. Then, those pesky backpackers would come in seeking low rates, cutting your profits even further. Full occupancy? Forget about it! And then, once you finally figure out some way to stand out from the crowd, your competitors copy you. Time to cut your prices and hope for the best…
From the “pesky backpacker” perspective, it’s great to have affordable lodging and tour options. That being said, deciding which hotel to book or tour to take is an exercise in futility. First off, there are so many! Everyone sounds about the same, has similar websites, and costs about the same (example: cruises). What’s a confused traveler to do?
We found ourselves in that dilemma frequently. We first did as we always do: ask friends and family. Sadly, few have been to the same places we went. Next: head to TripAdvisor to hear fellow travelers’ take. It’s like Yelp for travel – everything from restaurants to hotels. Beyond the ratings themselves, the reviews often have tips and tricks to not only help us choose, but make the best of that choice.
The rise of TripAdvisor has done what it should: turn a one-night stand into an ongoing relationship, forcing businesses to keep improving. In fact, every tour we went on asked us for advice and to write a review, so they seem to have gotten the message.
That being said, we also found some harsh reviews that lambasted companies unfairly on problems like budget rooms not being 5-star quality, etc. To be honest, it’d suck to be a hotel having to deal with issues like that. As a weary traveler, it meant trying drawing some lines (bed bugs = no-go) and reading into reviews (was the receptionist mean, or was it the reviewer?).
We found it worked best with the human touch – advice from fellow travelers and the hotel lobby. All that feedback meant that we had an awesome experience everywhere we went (knock on wood…).