The Deal Mommy


I’m writing this post to clear an earworm. I’m also writing it in response to a number of posts I’ll reference below, but it’s mostly to get EVERYTHING IS AWESOME out of my head:

Everything is Awesome- Except When It Isn’t

My friend Jeff visited Volcano Bay on opening weekend and reported that everything was NOT awesome despite the rosy reviews he saw, well, everywhere. For lowly paying customers rides closed with regularity and the few that remained open suffered from extreme crowds. Not exactly the experience you read about- unless you were lucky enough to find Jeff’s review. 

Everything is Awesome- Because You Got it for Free

The rosy reviews came from bloggers attending the media preview. Attending a media preview means:

  1. They went for free- often including airfare
  2. The crowds miraculously didn’t exist
  3. They got tons of great swag

It’s pretty hard NOT to have a great time at a media preview- as Leslie pointed out when visiting Guardians of the Galaxy at Disneyland. However once the crowds arrive the experience radically changes. 

No one benefits from PR cut and paste “reviews”.  However,  it amazes me how many of them pass as legitimate content. The Saverocity Podcast covered hosted reviews in detail and I agree with most of what they said. 

Does Hosted = Biased? Yes. But that’s (necessarily) not a bad thing. 

 The Points Guy, for instance, never tells properties they’re being reviewed in advance so they can reject claims of bias. However, I find TPG to be strongly biased at times towards the experiences of people traveling without kids. Put a family of four in the same hotel room that just got a great review and the experience will be much different. And of course I’m not mentioning that TPG is owned by a credit card marketing company. If that’s not bias, I don’t know what is. That doesn’t mean TPG’s reviews don’t have value, you just need to know their bias(es) in advance.

Other mainstream travel blogs only take paid trips. So their bias shines through: a willingness to please those who write their paycheck. I don’t have a problem with advertorial per se. However I do have a problem with those who disguise it as a review.

I try to walk a fine line in the middle. Look to your right to see Exhibit A: my disclosure is on every single page where you can see it.  A very large company recently offered me a space in their (limited) affiliate program but wanted to preview my posts. I turned them down. I also made the decision not to sell credit cards as I didn’t want banks owning editorial control over my content.

That said, I stay for free from time to time and get free stuff when I do. I’m not claiming holy ground here. 


But everyone said it was awesome!

Everything is Awesome! That's the Beaches Turks and Caicos review you read everywhere- but here.

Sunset from my 4 poster hammock, Beaches Turks and Caicos, October 2014

I went to Beaches Turks and Caicos a few years ago with 100 other Mom Bloggers. While it wasn’t entirely free, we got a 90% discount. When we got back, as you would expect, 100 reviews hit the interwebs about Beaches Turks and Caicos. They all mentioned the powder soft sand, the relaxation, and some variation of “Everything was Awesome”. How many mentioned that the rooms started at $800/night in low season?

Two. Mine and one that linked to mine. 

What’s My Bias?

I mention this not as a humblebrag but because it shows my where my bias lies: value. I have a fundamental aversion to items I view as overpriced and over-hyped. It’s why I’m so sensitive to Vendoming

You need to know this about me- I will always choose solid and fairly priced over expensive perfection. If you are shopping based purely on “the best”- I’m not your girl. 

The upside? You’ll know if I do like something- it must be pretty good. The occasional thing may even be awesome. But not everything.

Because if everything is awesome, nothing is.

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

Does every travel review you read say EVERYTHING IS AWESOME? That means nothing is.


11 thoughts on “If EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, Nothing is

  1. Skywardbd

    Thank you!

    I am so disgusted with the “Everything is Awesome” mantra I read in most blogs these days. It’s refreshing to read a blog that actually concentrates on the way that most of us travel and would perceive a property or experience.

    I understand that blogging is hard work and takes effort. I have no problem with someone receiving compensation for their efforts. However it is unethical to purport to be unbiased when in fact a financal contributor has influenced the gist of the article without this bias/conflict of interest being prominently disclosed.

    Thank you for your efforts and your honesty.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks for your comment, and for reading!

      It’s all about the disclosure- if you know I’m being paid you can rate the information accordingly. It also helps to see whose money a blogger accepts- and more importantly whose they don’t.

      1. P


        The thing I want is that disclosure should be per blog post AND per blog post writer. Also, when a blog reviews a hotel or a flight, I want them to say how the flight or hotel stay was paid – miles, points, out of pocket, reimbursed by employer, friend paid for it, mom/dad paid for it, client paid for it (ha-ha). This is specially useful, when it is pointed out somewhere in the review “One free night costs only 20,000 points” or “One-way in first class is only 80,000 miles.”

  2. MickiSue

    It’s not just bloggers, there is a tendency for people in general to want to have made the right d vision when they paid money to do something.

    That’s the reason why I always read the one star reviews first. We avoided several of the most popular attractions in Jamaica, because the comments in the one star reviews cited serious issues that made the “it’s awesome!” comments in the five star reviews seem questionable at best.

    One of the things I so appreciate about your blog is that you always do your best to be evenhanded and honest. Nobody can avoid bias completely; it’s impossible to fully appreciate the other person’s POV, no matter how hard you try. But you define your biases, warn us that they exist. It’s really all one can ask.

  3. thedealmommy Post author

    Very true. We tend to remember the good and gloss over the 30 minute waits at the front desk and the lukewarm coffee.

    Thanks for the compliment- it means a lot.

  4. Lee @ BaldThoughts

    Great points. Whether I’m on a paid trip or not, I try to look on the bright side of things and I’m usually very flexible. That being said, I like showing both the pros and cons of a hotel, flight, destination, etc. so that a traveler’s expectations are realistic.

    My opinion is that if people know what the potential downsides are, they can plan around them… and I even offer suggestions on how to mitigate the negatives so that they can have the best vacation experience possible.

  5. Pingback: Best Airport Hamburger, Best Time to Use Airplane Restroom, New IHG Brand - BaldThoughts

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