Who are the happiest campers?

I’ve been a long time contributor to various tourist related rating sites (booking.com, tripadvisor) , and I tend to be an “if it’s great I’ll rate it, but if it’s not I won’t” style of rater.  In discussions with many of my “hosts” they put a premium on people rating their establishments, as more and more people are informed by social media.

This got me thinking about whether there are different styles of raters and whether there are different cultures of raters so that when I look at visiting hotels or restaurants I can understand what different ratings from different cultures are.

And I was right, it seems different cultures rate things differently, well according to the only site that has done this style of research.

Recent information from online rating site GetYourGuide a Swiss startup, Berlin based internet tourist site for booking and rating tourist sites which offers more than 26,000 international activities and tours that receive reviews from people all over the world.

The site themselves were curious: do travelers from certain countries tend to leave more scathing reviews than others? And are residents of certain parts of the world generally more generous with their dazzling 4 or 5-star ratings?

They reviewed data from 50 countries to find out.  And who was the country with most unhappy reviewers? South Korea. And the happiest?  The Czech Republic. So lets look at their view before we step back and look at this data.

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Surprisingly, 18.5% of all reviews left by South Koreans are either 1-star or 2-star ratings. The country also maintains the highest percentage of 3-star reviews, at 27%. Asian countries make a formidable showing on this disapproving list: people from Malaysia, Hong Kong and China are pretty critical of their experiences, too.

Spanish-speaking countries also rank high here when it comes to low ratings: Mexicans, Colombians, Peruvians and Argentinians all leave relatively high percentages of poor reviews.

The good news? If you look at the breakdown of the reviews, you’ll notice that the overwhelming majority are still positive — and remember, these are the unhappy, more critical countries. So, where do the happiest travelers come from?

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Czech travelers are particularly happy: 92.3% of all reviews were a 4 or 5-star review. People from Russia and Poland trail closely behind — though the distribution of 4 and 5-star reviews varies. An astonishing 71% of Austrians leave 5-star reviews, compared with Norway’s 45%. But a much higher percentage of Norwegians leave 4-star reviews than  Austrians do.

Interestingly, all ten of the positive rating countries are in Europe.

OK, we could do one of two things, firstly take the data at face value and believe that there are cultural isses- Asians are more critical than Europeans. Or we could dig deeper to see if there are any biases.

Of course this data only represents reviews from GetYourGuide – and this is only a portion of all online reviews. Neither booking.com nor tripadvisor has provided a cultural breakdown on comments or rating.

So I dug a little deeper, to see if there could be any biases in the review. Maybe the Swiss-German site is optimised for central Europeans (who appear to be the happiest), and these are indirectly influenced to give positive views of the tourist sites, while this style of site is not seen positively by Spanish speakers or Asians?

OK a bit deeper, what about the World Happiness Index, do happier countries give nicer reviews?

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Bloomberg notes the latest review of the happiness index, maybe there is a tenuous link, but not really.

And so until we have a wider range of reviews the jury is still out.