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NEW YORK — Anxious Americans admit they’re “addicted” to scouring reviews online before making a purchase. In fact, over half “refuse” to book a vacation without reading them beforehand.

A survey of 2,000 U.S. vacationers found 67 percent confess they’re “obsessed” with scrolling reviews, despite 46 percent being previously let down by misleading feedback left by a stranger.

Doing the due diligence when booking vacations

Americans say you should read an average of 17 reviews before booking a vacation, with 48 percent getting “seriously worried” at the thought of committing to a big trip without seeing what other people thought first. A third even admitted to potentially “losing sleep” over the ordeal.

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by homestay company Plum Guide, the study also revealed that even The Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Flatiron Building in New York aren’t safe from scorn and misleading comments.

“The consumer information environment has undergone a seismic shift in the last ten years, and online reviews are now the predominant source of information that consumers rely on,” says Philip Fernbach, a leading cognitive scientist working with Plum Guide on the study, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the average star rating is heavily biased, fake reviews are common and for experiences like vacations, different consumers can have radically different tastes,” Philip continues. “This research shows that people trust reviews tremendously, even admitting to being obsessed with them despite sometimes experiencing substantial negative repercussions of this trust. It would be better for consumers if they could supplement their reliance on reviews with more expert or critical evaluations that are not plagued by the myriad limitations of the online review system.”

Who can you trust?

Despite 75 percent saying false write-ups have led to arguments and tension amongst those Americans vacation with, 72 percent still trust strangers’ opinions when booking or purchasing something online. The OnePoll study also found the average adult plans on spending a total of $4,849 this year on holidays — an average of $325 more than last year.

For over half the poll (58%) however, the amount of choice and research required when booking a vacation is “overwhelming” and “stressful.” Therefore, it’s no surprise 81 percent agree there needs to be a more reliable and accurate system when planning a trip.

“For restaurants, we have the Michelin star, yet for booking travel, we only have the opinions of anonymous strangers,” says Plum Guide Founder and CEO Doron Meyassed. “To highlight the absurdity of relying solely on online reviews to find the exceptional, we thought it would be interesting to project some on to a few of the most critically acclaimed and iconic locations in London and New York to start a conversation which challenges our obsession with reviews.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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