How to leave an online review that’s helpful to others

Writing an online review of a hotel or holiday apartment can provide helpful advice for other travellers, and can also help the owner to understand what needs to be improved. 

But before you get your laptop out and start typing, it’s important to have a personal conversation with the owners – especially if you are planning to be very critical, advises the German Vacation Home Association (DFV). 

Any criticism should be objective and respectful, the association says – and you should try to remain neutral, even if you have had a bad experience with the accommodation. 

Those who spew forth their anger in an unfiltered message could wind up in a legal grey area, DFV chairman Goran Holst warns. Defamation, publishing untrue information and insulting content can land you in trouble with the law. 

Holst advises travellers to provide an exact description of any unsatisfactory conditions. Generalities like “the accommodation was all right” are of little use to others. 

Every evaluation should, according to the DFV, describe the location of the apartment, how the booking was made, how the turnover and return of the keys were conducted, and whether the furnishings and service lived up to the descriptions in the prospectus. 

When it comes to cleanliness, helpful information could include whether instructions were provided on waste disposal and whether sufficient cleaning accessories were made available. 

Other questions that a critique should answer: How were the communications with the landlord? Were they cooperative and did they answer questions clearly? 

And finally: What was your overall impression of the accommodation? Was the garden well-tended and could one make good use of the balcony? How was the price-to-performance ratio, and were all the extra costs made clear beforehand? — dpa