I’m sure this seems like a simple subject, without much depth. But that’s the problem. It seems so simple. Trust me, it’s not.
With everything from a Yelp review of a restaurant to a friend’s insistence that you’d love her favorite resort, there is upside and definite downside. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
- Unless you know a person extremely well, you really have no way of knowing if their taste matches yours. If you think about it, you’ll probably find that there are very few people who enjoy even the same restaurants you do, let alone the kind of entertainment as you. Without considering whether you’re synchronized or even slightly leaning the same direction on taste, you can easily spend what you intended as a special day or night in absolute misery; a waste of time, opportunity and, often, money.
- Online reviews can be helpful, but only if you take the time to read a few of them. First, it’s been noted before that they are often paid for or posted by friends of the owners. Second, you don’t know how the writer thinks. What they may consider “a great family restaurant” is actually an eatery with a play area for the kids, but the dining area is loaded with partying adults. Make sure you stick with an online site for more than one review. If possible, even check out more than one site for other opinions.
- When you ask someone for a recommendation, keep in mind their lifestyle traits. If you aren’t much for seafood or meat, beware of the simple “it’s a great place.” Ask what they serve or what they are known for. This is especially true when getting advice on places to stay or travel. If you like being able to stroll around interesting surroundings, be careful not to get stuck in “the perfect hotel” that just happens to be isolated from any community spots.
- Beware of the pitfall that I have regularly fallen into: the ideal travel destination. It took me a long time to realize I have very specific types of travel interests and they don’t often fit “the norm.” While I prefer simple accommodations within a more suburban area or being in the heart of a downtown, others prefer a touristy area. I went to Bali because I was told I “had to go there”. For me, it just wasn’t the right place, no matter which of the four areas I visited. There’s no accounting for the differences in taste, but now I can safely say I’m able to see more clearly where mine might vary from another’s.
- Lastly, when asked to give a recommendation try to take these factors into account: desired price points, atmosphere, available services, whatever you know about that person’s own preferences, etc. Be sure to give as much overall information as you can, and stipulate that this is to your own taste and may not match theirs.
I’m sure there are many other aspects of the whole recommendation experience that I’ve overlooked, and I humbly ask for your input. Maybe we’ll save someone a little discomfort and unnecessary expense.