Digital Traveler: TripAdvisor Room Tips leave room for improvement

— -- You plan to stay at the Bellagio Las Vegas and want to ensure that your room has a view of the fountains. Or perhaps the W New York-Times Square is on your itinerary and, although you are eager to mix it up with the hip clientele, you want to be certain that the sometimes-raucous Broadway crowds don't mess with your beauty sleep.

Enter hotel review website TripAdvisor with a new Room Tips feature.

Over the past six months, travelers writing hotel reviews on TripAdvisor have been given the option to contribute a Room Tip as part of the review. Now, TripAdvisor boasts about 500,000 Room Tips for hotels around the world on its 30 global websites.

So if you access the Bellagio Las Vegas listing on TripAdvisor, you'll see a link that says, "Get the best possible room — 221 traveler tips."

Actually, when you click on the link, you'll see 100 traveler tips. TripAdvisor displays the 100 most recent Room Tips, how the traveler rated the hotel and the date each was posted. It also links to the full hotel review.

Some hotels may have 100 Room Tips, others may have a handful. Others have none.

As you might expect with advice written by a swath of travelers, the Room Tips range from useful to irrelevant and even just silly.

Many of the Room Tips for the Bellagio sensibly pertain to asking for a room at the front of the property to get a view of the fountains or securing a fountain-view room higher than the 20th floor, because "the water jets can be noisy if you're a light/early sleeper."

A Sept. 17 comment might be insightful for some: "If you have asthma or breathing difficulties, it's better not to get a freshly remodeled room. We had to switch from a room that has been remodeled two weeks ago to a room that has been remodeled six months ago due to the fumes of the fresh paint and carpet."

If that's a breath of fresh air, other Room Tips about the Bellagio are less than prize-winning. Consider: "great hotel" or "be polite and speak to the staff as you would expect to be spoken to yourself."

One problem with TripAdvisor Room Tips is many that are published have nothing to do with the hotels' rooms, let alone specific rooms. As with most traveler-written content on TripAdvisor or other user-review sites, review writers are given free rein, as long as the publisher can't ascertain that the review is fraudulent.

So free speech flows. But maintaining the quality of Room Tips isn't attempted.

One positive aspect of the Room Tips, and TripAdvisor reviews in general, is you can access the profiles of the reviewers.

So after reading "Worldcitizenindelhi's" comment about the W New York-Times Square, "High floor, corner room is worth the extra $$$," you can read more in the full review. You'll learn there that he stayed in Fabulous Corner Room 5706, that he's 25 to 34 years old, he's written 28 reviews, and other TripAdvisor members have rated two of them as helpful.

If you navigate over to Room 77 (, which launched in February, a month before TripAdvisor began collecting Room Tips, you can find more detailed information about the W's Room 5706.

Room 77 provides a simulated image from the room showing a view toward the Hudson River. It states the room indeed is a 288-square-foot Fabulous Corner Room, the elevator is 23 feet away and the bed is king size.

Opting for professional tips from "the concierge and hotel staff" instead of traveler tips, Room 77 provides a handful of pointers such as: Cool Corner rooms offer the best Times Square views, and the street noise in the area may be unavoidable.

TripAdvisor's Room Tips are more candid than Room 77's. So they have some value, although it can be very time-consuming wading through 100 tips of widely divergent quality about the larger hotels.

If you really want advice about booking a particular room in a hotel, call the concierge before you book and consider using TripAdvisor Room Tips and Room 77 in tandem, though the latter's coverage of hotel properties is limited at this juncture.

TripAdvisor seems open to tweaking the types of Room Tips it collects and perhaps in the future may opt to solicit more room-specific information.

Adam Medros, TripAdvisor's vice president of global product, says the company is surprised by the volume of room-specific information travelers have been providing and that it will "continue to hone" Room Tips for the larger properties with 100 traveler tips.

Meanwhile, Room Tips is a nice add-on for TripAdvisor, although it doesn't meet its self-described mission of helping guests "get the best possible room."