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Friday, January 16, 2009

More Yahoo! Travelers Give St. Louis a Flunking Grade

A while ago I covered the inane reviews featured on Yahoo! Travel's website. While I think St. Louis could do 1000 times better at marketing itself as a navigable, tourist-friendly destination, some of the comments featured were simply ignorant. For one, why review your trip entirely based on your hotel experience? And does your botched night of dining at Applebee's in West County truly reflect on St. Louis's culinary offerings?

Well, enjoy Round 2--or check them out for yourself here.

By A Yahoo! Contributor, 01/14/09
We were robbed at gunpoint during our visit in January 2009. The robbery occured near Euclid and Maryland avenue, in the Central West End, which is purportedly an ***upscale area populated by young urban professionals.*** The police seemed less than interested in our plight. Even our friends in St. Louis said "Hey, it's the city, you take your chances."
We are never coming back. Our friends can visit us in safe, well-defined Wichita, which is safe and family-friendly.

Ouch. Not much to say about that one. Please--give the city another chance? At what time did this occur? Was anyone hurt? How many people were you with? Yikes...

STL is Baltimore Without an Ocean or Culture
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 01/04/09
I am a well-traveled professional, having been to 44 of the 50 United States. A December 2008 one-week stay in St. Louis has convinced me that it is essentially Baltimore with no ocean/bay or culture to speak of.

1) Extremely segregated
2) Nasty, lazy and ignorant locals
3) Burnt-out abandoned brick buildings
4) Arrogance among the ignorant ("Country Pride, I beleve?)
5) An incredibly apparent aura of depression and unhealthy lifestyles

I found the Gateway Arch somewhat interesting, but the Anheuser-Busch tour was rushed and quite dull, which I liken to the recent buyout by InBev. Having met several individuals that worked at Anheuser-Busch, I can certainly see how their slow, slovenly ways allowed the buyout/mass terminations to happen.
Like the business traveler below, I was holed up in an overpriced (Millenium) hotel with no hot water and rude, snide employees. $15 to park two blocks away, and do NOT walk the streets of STL at night! I closed my deal but I will not be back here, if I can help it.

I'm pleased with the Baltimore comparison, minus the pejorative tagline. Maybe someone can enlighten me--but how exactly do you come to know the work ethic ("lazy") and education levels ("ignorant") of the locals when you're on a (presumably) short visit somewhere?

I find the level of perception improbable among some of these travelers.

St. Louis is NOT the Midwest!
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 01/02/09
It absolutely irks me that so many cretins use "St. Louis" and "Midwest
in the same sentence! This is not the Midwest, people! Chicago, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Milwaukee are good Midwestern cities. St. Louis is a SOUTHERN town, complete with segregated neighborhoods, an immensely lower standard for education/work ethic, poverty, and just downright lazy and indifferent folks. I thank heaven for I-270 so that I may bypass this feted and festering landfill.

When did the South become a byword for "feted and festering landfill"? Again, wonderful perceptive abilities from these visitors, huh? To have a whole 2.8 million/350,000 people pegged on one visit, perhaps?

What Improvement?
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 12/31/08
Many of the reviewers have indicated that St. Louis has gone under "major improvement" over the last several years.
We stopped on the way from Indianapolis to Kansas City. Our last visit prior to this was in 1997, when the area was a vertiable dump. Fast forward 11 years and, yes, there is SOME semblance of genrtification in the areas near Washington Avenue, St. Louis still has a long, long way to go. In Indianapolis, we enjoy our sporting events in areas far away from potentially dangerous areas, which seems to be the opposite of St. Louis, specifically the Edward Jones Dome, just two blocks away from a very seedy area. Lumiere Place looks nice, but when you can see urban blight, poverty and an overall element of desparity across the highway from your $200/night suite, something just doesn't seem right. Great Italian food on the Hill, Forest Park is beautiful, but my goodness the local folks don't really seem interested in anything, let alone serving the customer.

Quote. Of. The. Year. (in bold)

It Really Wasn't Worth the Stop
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 11/09/08
Greetings fellow travelers,

When you're on commuting I-70 and need a place to call it an evening, avoid St. Louis.We (myself, my wife and our five-year-old son) looked at several hotels in downtown STL, and there was indeed a significant safety concern. Soooo.....we headed west and tried Wentzville...more dirty and repugnant folks. We settled in Columbia, MO in a nice hotel. What we are saying, as a family, is that STL may not be worth the stop. Very limited lodging, restaurants and a very serious safety concern.

Could you be a little more specific, perhaps? It doesn't really sound like you saw too much of St. Louis.

We had a great time!
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 10/03/08
Man, I wish we could move here. Our 24 hours in St. Louis were wonderful. First, we sat on a bridge over the Mississippi River for over an hour during rush hour traffic. Then, we had to take a 12-mile detour because one of the main throughfares (Highway Farty to you locals) was closed. When we stopped at a hotel in Creve Coeur, it took the pig waiting on us over an hour to check us in. Then, dinner at Applebee's was five-star - exactly how does one screw up French Fries? And kudos to the pile of lard sitting at the bar drinking his Bud and smoking his cigs - your gruff demeanor, bad acne and Cardinals hat personified the essence that is St. Louis! We can't wait to return!

Argh! Applebee's again giving a bad name to its host city!

These were all the one and two star reviews on the page. If that wasn't depressing enough for you, follow the link at the beginning of this post.

Tourists need wayfinding signs, sidewalks in good repair, an affordable and convenient transit system, better and more creative outreach, good local dining establishments around hotels, street trees, entertainment that is easy to find, ad infinitum. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission should take note of these reviews, even if some are quite silly.


Chris said...

Even more sad is that fact that many suburban St. Louisans feel the same way.

I have never met anyone, anywhere, who merely stated that the Arch was "sort of interesting."

These people probably bitch about everything.

Matt M. said...

Yes. It tends to be those with bad experiences who even bother to comment.

It is, in a very loose anecdotal way, an interesting look into tourist-friendliness among cities. Maybe next I could look at Trip Advisor?

Lynn Josse said...

Good lord. Thanks for posting these. Looking at the source, it looks like a pretty high percentage of the posts are written by people in the "nice suburbs" of West County (Ballwin is mentioned in one post) and expats with a grudge. How on earth would a business traveller have any insight into the characteristics of people from North County and South County (or even know the local terminology for those areas?) Some of the recent positive reviews are clearly bogus too, but at least they try to balance the fake reviews. The good news is that these reviews offer very little of relevance to an actual traveler.

One place where it's obviously very stacked is the "helpfulness" rating on each review. You can see that users are finding the the really negative reviews to be helpful (even if they only say that people are rude or that they got robbed) and the positive ones to be unhelpful.

users have the option of sorting by helpfulness - it looks like someone is trying to make sure the nasty reviews are seen first.

Cait said...

I wish to respond to some of the negative comments left on Yahoo! Travel's website regarding peoples visit to St Louis.
1) Extremely segregated
We are a city over 3/4 of which is white. Maybe that's why 3/4 of the people you saw were white.

Population Breakdown By Race
Race St. Louis, MO-IL MSA U.S.
White 77.6%
African American 18.1%
Asian 1.8%
Some other race 2.5%

Source: "American Community Survey 2007", U.S. Census Bureau.5)

2) Nasty, lazy and ignorant locals
Full-Time Undergraduate 53,176
Part-Time Undergraduate 23,211
Total Enrollment
Certificate's 337

Bachelor's 12,875
Master's 11,331
Doctoral 599
First Professional 1,554
Total Degrees Awarded 27,692

Source: "College Navigator" National Center for Education Statistics,for 2006-07.

Not bad for "lazy and ignorant" people.

3) Burnt-out abandoned brick buildings
St. Louis has been recognized for its successful revitalization efforts downtown, receiving awards like the 2008 All-America City Award, sponsored by the Denver-based National Civic League

St. Louis is one of the few regions nationwide that enjoys access to four modes of transportation — air, rail, road, and water. The availability of so many options provides the community with some of the lowest shipping costs in the country.

3) An incredibly apparent aura of depression and unhealthy lifestyles
Hmmm... I'm not depressed,or unhealthy. Perhaps you were reflecting your state of mind upon us.
4) Arrogance among the ignorant ("Country Pride, I beleve?)
Since when is St Louis in the "Country?"
I believe I know how to spell believe. No question!
Ranked as one of Forbes’ “200 Best Metropolitan Areas” in America in 2007, Greater St. Louis is a community that shines in numerous areas, from business environment and cost of living to health care and quality of transportation.

"It absolutely irks me that so many cretins use "St. Louis" and "Midwest".
Chicago, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Milwaukee

So many "cretins" say that St. Louis is Midwest...because it is! I think you could use a geography primer.
St. Louis has,
Fortune 1000
companies in
the region

St. Louis is,
No. 1
lowest cost of
living among top
metro areas

"Then, we had to take a 12-mile detour because one of the main throughfares (Highway Farty to you locals) was closed."
Highway 40/61 is undergoing a major renovation. I fail to see why that wouldn't be considered progress.

"Then, dinner at Applebee's was five-star - exactly how does one screw up French Fries?"

Applebee's Restaurant is a national chain that probably has a restaurant very close to where you live. I don't think they ever professed to be 5-star.
If you want a 5- star meal..try Tony's, or the many excellent restaurants on the hill. I'm sure you would be impressed!

Information cited from:
St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA

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