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Arthur Frommer and the Importance of Experts

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Flickr: caitlinator

To travel before Arthur Frommer published his first eponymous guide in 1957 was to experience anxiety and uncertainty. 

If you were lucky enough to have a personal connection to somebody with experience in the locale you planned to visit, you might have an idea of what to expect, where to stay, and what to eat. Even then, you had to hope their memory was infallible and the destination was in the same condition as they remembered it; that no hotels had changed hands or gone through difficult periods, and that better options hadn’t recently opened.
 
Most travelers didn’t have the luxury of personal recommendation. They had second or third hand advice from unreliable or biased sources, and their travel experience suffered for it. The luxury hotel that wasn’t, the vastly overpriced, the loud hotel where you were promised peace and quiet, the dirty and worn; these were common the travel experiences in the time before reliable hotel reviews.
 
Arthur Frommer and other mid-century travel experts such as Eugene Fodor changed that dynamic forever. They possessed a modern perspective for an audience who wanted to know the best place to stay at various price-points. They had a vast store of comparative knowledge and were able to recognize and highlight the outstanding (and the not-so-outstanding). Now if you wanted to travel to Paris, Miami, or Tokyo, you didn’t need to know somebody; you could easily consult their professional reviews.
 
Much has changed in the past several decades. There are more places to stay than ever, and finding reliable advice is a challenge. Review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp can contain useful reviews written by experienced and knowledgeable travellers. But they’re also flooded with poor reviews influenced by any number of biases and shortcomings that readers are unaware of. Amateur reviewers often penalize hotels for reasons tangential or irrelevant to their overall quality.  Up to 40% of the reviews may be fake. We're once again making important travel decisions based on unreliable and biased sources.
 
In a letter to the TripExpert team, Arthur Frommer highlights some of these problems:

“I have been surprised by the occasional popularity of the so-called "user-generated" websites that print recommendations or critiques of hotels and restaurants, written by amateurs who have been once in their lives to one hotel in the destination city or eaten one meal at a similarly-located restaurant.  …[T]hose write-ups seem less than reliable…” 
There is a better way. Practical and useful advice for the today’s traveler written by an impartial professional with a vast store of experiences to draw from for valid comparisons still exists and the internet gives us unprecedented access to it. At TripExpert, we’ve aggregated the opinions of the greatest and most experienced travel minds. We give you the ability to quickly and intuitively parse expert opinion in the largest ever collection of expert reviews offered through a single service.  Our TripExpert Score is an objective measure of a hotel’s quality based on professional reviews.
 
With TripExpert, you can easily find the best hotel within your budget for the destinations you want to visit.  It’s once again a revolution in how we travel. Arthur Frommer, deservedly, gets the last word: 

“I have welcomed the arrival of TripExpert.com, which prints recommendations and critiques written by experienced travel journalists, most of whom have devoted their careers to the subject matter and built major reputations based on the worth of their reviews.”

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