On this page we’ll look at the top two parts of a Trip Advisor entry for a single site, and how you can draw out a LOT of useful information.

First, page one. The key information.

Senso-ji

Details on the left side above:

  • Note that this is #2 of 56 Things to Do in Asakusa. Aha! Remember that we were going to make a note of each sight’s neighbourhood. But Tokyo is BIG. Look at the address. Yep, Asakusa is a sub-neighbourhood of Taito!
  • #2 of 56, eh? Well, that means lots of people like it. But we aren’t lots of people. You may well find that only a handful of the top 20 make it onto your shortlist. Don’t worry about it. It’s your vacation. But … top 5 or 10 maybe means you should at least look at the overview and a few comments to see why people like it. Maybe you’ve heard about this place but there’s something special that you don’t know yet. [Our view: it was wonderful!]
  • The Overview, of course, is this site’s first attempt to make you shortlist it.
  • You don’t need to capture the details at this point; you’ll be bookmarking this page in your planning document if it’s a candidate, and you can get them later. Yopu might note the “Suggested Duration” because it coudl well determine whether the place gets shortlisted.
     
    Up at the top left of the photo is the Travellers’ Choice Award, given for consistently good results across several years. I wouldn’t mark a place down for NOT having this, but it does signal consistency.

On to the next part of the entry for this temple: the summary of reviews.

Oh, good, there are lots of reviews. And look at that distribution! Hardly anyone disliked it.  I give a bonus for a negligible number of Poor and Terrible reviews. To use an analogy from the restaurant side of things, by the time you get to 6 Terrible out of 5,676 you’re into the people who are disappointed that the Brazilian Beef BBQ doesn’t serve vegan soup, or the people who booked for 8 people and were upset when 20 of them arrived and the restaurant wouldn’t seat them together.  

After this you’re going to skim the reviews. With the checkboxes here, you can reduce the number of reviews you have to consider. You can look at all the bad ones first if you want. Or sort by date: if you’re going to Whistler in August you won’t get much out of the reviews by winter skiers. 

The Popular mentions part is worth a quick look, in case you recognize things you’re read earlier. Above, for example, you can guess that this place isn’t far from the Skytree and maybe you could see them together; or you could observe that this temple also has food stalls so that being there at lunchtime might be a good idea.

I’d save the Search box for later, when you maybe want to choose between two finalists, or confirm that this place has that one thing you really need.

If I am going to shortlist a place at this stage, I’ll capture: 

  • The link to the review   in the format like   TA 4.5   which means “Trip Advisor 4.5 stars”
  • I might add “TA 4.5 on 100 reviews” as a warning to check a little more closely
  • The website link if I found it already
  • A few notes on when it’s open, highlights, a few review quotes. I try to find out whether it’s closed on certain days, because you need that for high-level planning. 

Next page: This place looks interesting, let’s get what we need to make the decision.

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