The Problem With Crowdsourced Hotel Reviews

One thing we have learned over the years whether running the Mountain Valley Guest Inn or other hotels such as The Craighaar Hotel,   is that the start of the year isn’t a good time to be in the budget hotel business.

Why is that? Well, TripAdvisor, HotelsCheap, BudgetTravel and many more large portal sites  all put out their Top 10 best and worst lists around that time. And boy, do people have some mean hotel reviews to share about these cut-price affairs!

take this one, for example for the  premium VGP hotel in Chennai, India, “There were loud bangs outside the room. We later found out that the hotel staff were shooting stray dogs that had got in” or, what about this doozy for the Heritage Marina Hotel in San Francisco, one customer said, “It would be safer and cleaner to sleep on the streets”. It seems that nowhere is safe as a budget hotel  in Virginia found out, “There was dried blood and hair in the made bed like someone had slaughtered a small animal.” Worst of all, they reviewers back up their claims with detailed facts, names of the desk clerks on duty and everything.

Hotel reviews on sites like TripAdvisor are really getting hotel owners all worked up.

Half of them claim that the mean badmouthing is just a dirty business trick that competitors use to get a leg up in business. Many of them plan to sue – hardly surprising under the circumstances, after all, reviews like these can cost hotel owners their business.

Beating jet lag: how to travel smart across time zones

Anyone who’s taken a flight which spans several time zones, whether west to east or east to west, can tell you about jet lag. Jet lag is essentially a condition caused by the disruption of what is called your circadian rhythms, the 24 hour daily cycle during which you distribute your waking and sleeping hours. If you’re accustomed to waking at 7am and going to sleep at 11pm, local time and suddenly disrupt this cycle by getting on a plane and traveling to a destination that changes your normal 7am wakeup to 4pm, while matching up your normal bedtime to 8am, you will experience jet lag. The symptoms of jet lag are much like that of a hangover. You’re utterly exhausted, dehydrated, suffering from indigestion and a bit disoriented. This is no way to start a vacation! Here we give you some practical tips on how to travel smart and beat the jet lag syndrome. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that ordering a drink on board, or taking a sleeping pill will help. According to The Lancet medical reports, almost 20% of deaths on board long flights are attributed to blood clots, particularly in the lungs, induced by travelers who have used an alcoholic beverage or sleeping pill in an attempt to side-step the lack of sleep factor! This strategy is a loser. What you should do instead is to make sure that you keep your circulation intact. Walk around, or just stretch your legs periodically. As with a hangover, jet lag is a condition of extreme dehydration. One of the best things you can do to moderate the effects of jet lag is to drink water. So simple, yet effective. Typically, the airplane cabin is drier than the least humid places on earth – you’re losing, on average,…

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Using a Smart Phone and Making Cheap Overseas Calls on Skype for Mobile

My sister went sightseeing around Europe recently, and she used her AT&T cellphone to keep in touch throughout. When she came back with a few European knick knacks to show for her adventures and a cell phone bill worth about $1550, it got me thinking. For many European countries, AT&T will charge you something like $1.29 for each minute you call back home. If you want their top-of-the-line cheap rate, you’ll need to get their special international calling plan. Surely there has to be better way to make cheaper overseas calls when you are out of the country? If you happen to have a Blackberry or an iPhone, you could easily set it up to make free calls home with WiFi, or, if you want to go the regular route, at no more than about two cents a minute. How you ask? Why, with Skype or any number of competing services, of course. Skype has a twelfth of the world’s human population locked up (figuratively, not literally). Whoever you want to call, is probably on it. It used to be when it started out that you needed to crowd around your computer to use Skype; but these days, smart phones have got pretty good at it too. Setting your smartphone up to this is pretty easy. Make sure that it can do WiFi. Using WiFi, gives you much better voice quality than regular cell networks can. But if you don’t have it on your phone, you could alternatively just call and use several local phone services in the country you are in, that will put you on Skype. You can do this even if you do not have a smartphone. You would be charged just for what you would expect for a local call. They take you on Skype. There…

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