A recent National Geographic article questions the transparency of travel bloggers who accept perks in exchange for favourable reviews. These perks can range from free airfare, hotel rooms, meals and admission to city attractions.

“Bloggers don’t have a standardized set of ethics,” says blogging expert Alexander Halavais of Quinnipiac University. “You might trust something you read in a magazine because you have faith in the news organization. But when it comes to blogs, the trust is often tied up with the person.” As a result, you may be accepting tainted advice from your favorite blog without even knowing it.

True, it’s not like bloggers have any ethical standards to which they need to abide. But it certainly helps your credibility by disclosing any bribes handed out by the company you happen to be fondly reviewing. Tainted advice, in any shade of grey, is not cool.

As for the blog readers researching their next trip, the article offers sound advice:

In an era of product placements, where advertisers can buy their way into movies and TV morning shows, sponsored blogs are only going to increase. The consumer’s best defense is to take a skeptic’s view of blogs (and other media, for that matter). Don’t base big decisions on one piece of advice. Be your own reporter and check out other sources. Your next vacation may depend on it.

Read the full article.

What are some “red flags” you find when reading questionable travel reviews? Please share your tips in the comments.

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