By Andrea Romano
June 26, 2019
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Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid online reviews entirely, according to an advertising campaign in Vienna.

According to the Telegraph, the city of Vienna has a new tourism campaign called Unrating Viennais telling potential visitors to stop giving so much credence to review websites like TripAdvisor or “must-see” listicles when planning their trips.

“Everything and everyone is rated these days. People trust the opinions of total strangers and follow their opinions and ratings. And all of that makes it even more difficult to experience anything new or surprising – especially when planning a vacation. As a result, chance encounters are more or less a thing of the past,” it says on the campaign website.

Coupled with the tagline, “Who decides what you like?” the Vienna Tourist Board urges visitors to take a good look at some of the reviews they see online for some of the most famous landmarks in the European city. Granted, while many reviews can be helpful and thoughtful, there are a lot of reviewers who end up rating one or two stars for arguably benign or trivial problems like cafés that don’t have to-go cups or backrests on their seats.

Other reviews may also be taken with a grain of salt because they may be posted ironically, like museum reviews that say there are “too many artworks.”

The tongue-in-cheek campaign juxtaposes these poor reviews against gorgeous photos of some of the city’s best tourist sites, like the Schönbrunn Palace, Prater Park, and Heuriger Schübel-Auer wine bar.

Perhaps the most striking images are a romantic boat ride with a one-star review that says, simply, “boooring” on it, and a beautiful shot of a swing ride at Prater that says, “the view is rubbish.” Some people can’t be pleased.

According to The Drum, 95 percent of tourists read at least seven review sites before booking a vacation, so these reviews, whether they’re jokes or not, are making a big difference for visitors and the sites they go to.

Unrating Vienna is running concurrently with Vienna’s other tourism campaign, Unhashtag Vienna, which asks tourists to explore the city without constantly posting on social media, The Drum reported.

“If travelers focus a little bit more on deliberately experiencing their trip...Not being too stressed by taking too many pictures or visiting the top five or 10 sites,” said Helena Hartlauer, a spokesperson for the Vienna Tourist Board, to the Washington Post, “Then it’s good for both the visitors and the destination.”

And putting away social media and ignoring online reviews isn’t just helpful when planning a trip to Vienna. In theory, this vacation booking tactic could be just as rewarding anywhere you go.

Of course, sometimes you can find useful information in an online review that can help you avoid tourist traps, like the one-star reviews that visitors gave the former Azure Window in Malta, which sadly no longer exists. That hasn’t stopped tour guides from taking unwitting visitors there anyway.

Still, a digital detox getaway can be rejuvenating for your body and mind – and you might actually enjoy your vacation more.

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