Comic-Con travelers today have so many tools within their reach when making decisions on everything from hotels to restaurants and of course outside-the-Con events – sometimes it’s enough to make your head spin. But when you have to make a choice, how do you choose which are worthy of your time, energy, and of course money? Who can tell you where to get the most out of your visit to San Diego? How do you tell someone to avoid a total bummer of an activity or restaurant?
Being an avid traveler and “state-side” explorer, I often turn to Yelp and Trip Advisor for reviews I know I can trust and ideas of activities and locales I may enjoy checking out. I also leave reviews of my own, knowing that I may be helping someone else make a choice. You can too!
Yelp was launched in San Francisco in October of 2004. It provides a local search of services for people to use and review. It is very much a social networking site. You can link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and you have an online profile. I think this adds credibility to your posts and the reviews.
Yelp isn’t just for hotels either. You can look up things like restaurants, venues, bars, barber shops – it’s like an interactive Yellow Pages (sorry YP, my fingers are doing the walking across my keyboard). Yelp gives the address, phone number, website and other vital information about the business. Narrowing your search to a specific neighborhood in a big city is a big help. Obviously, if you are staying at a hotel in the Gaslamp District without a car, you don’t want to plan for dinner in Mission Valley.
This comes in handy for us Comic-Con attendees. Instead of blindly requesting reviews via Twitter or Facebook or other forums, you can go to Yelp and look for “hotels” in San Diego. If you want to narrow your search even more, you can limit it to hotels in the Gaslamp District and even search for reviews that specifically mention Comic-Con. How cool is that? The first hotel that pulled up was Hotel Solamar (which is where Barb and I stayed last year). There are five reviews that mention Comic-Con in some sense, 311 total reviews.
What is great is you, the reader, can also upload your own reviews of places you’ve been. Think people should check out The Marble Room in San Diego (YES YOU SHOULD), leave a review and let people know what to expect and what was extra awesome. Should people get to the zoo early to avoid lines and heat (sure if you don’t mind thinking you’re starring in a Jurassic Park remake)? You can leave a review for that too! The possibilities are endless on Yelp.
Trip Advisor, like Yelp, is another social networking search engine. It was founded back in February 2000 and is part of a company that owns and operates seventeen travel websites.
What’s different is Trip Advisor is very much “vacation and travel orientated”. Meaning on it you will find more travel specific reviews for everything from airlines, airports, hotels, activities and even nightlife. Another great feature of Trip Advisor is their Travel Guides. Want to see San Diego on the cheap? There’s a guide for it. There’s also a “before you go” guide that gives background on San Diego as a whole, when is the best time to visit, customs and local culture information, and information for foreign visitors. You can, again, narrow searches to a specific neighborhood to get the most out of your experience.
What I liked most about Trip Advisor is that companies can respond to your review. I recently posted about the great time we had at the hotel where we stayed during last year’s Con. Shortly after it was approved to post by Trip Advisor, I got a response from the hotel manager thanking me for the good review. Another review was less than stellar and the manager stated that he agreed with the poster’s grievances and offered to speak with them in order to figure out how to improve the situation. What a great marketing too! I’d be more willing to patronize a business that had a few bad reviews mixed in with the good ones if they’re willing to fix their problems or shortfalls.
Sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp wouldn’t exist though if people didn’t give their honest reviews of places they visit and this is where you as the consumer come in handy. If you’ve been someplace, give your review. Tell people what you liked, what you didn’t and most of all, be honest. What you post might help some other Con attendee choose what, where and when to check something out!
In addition, both sites have mobile apps that you can download to your Android or iPhone, so you can take it on the go!