City wins first-ever excellence nod from Trip Advisor

(Courtesy VBCVB)
(Courtesy VBCVB)

Online reviewers have been giving Virginia Beach a lot of raves.

The City recently landed its first “certificate of excellence” from TripAdvisor, the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau said in a release Tuesday. The designation, bestowed by the online travel website and review forum, recognizes restaurants, hotels, attractions and, in the City’s case, destinations, that have earned overall praise and high ratings.

“They tell us what they love,” Teresa Diaz, public relations specialist for the CVB, said in a phone interview. “They tell us what they don’t love.”

To qualify for a certificate of excellence, a business or destination must, among other requirements, have a minimum average “bubble rating” of four out of five, the release said. Bubble ratings are the evaluations provided by people who post feedback on TripAdvisor. During a 12-month period, Virginia Beach had an average rating of 4.5.

Virginia Beach has had a TripAdvisor account since 2014, Diaz said, and she has managed the account for about a year. To date, Virginia Beach has received a total of 1,700 reviews, according to the travel site. The reviews range from “Terrible” (23) and “Poor” (42) to “Average” (159), “Very Good” (441) and “Excellent”  (1,035).

Diaz reads and responds to as many of the reviews as she can, including the bad ones. For the most part, reviewers weigh in about the beach, she said. They also share their appraisals of restaurants, the boardwalk, entertainment and amenities.

“What people are rating are their Virginia Beach experiences,” Diaz said.

Not all those experiences are good.

“There were cigarette but[t]s ALL over this beach,” said danr165, a reviewer from Newark, Del. who gave the City a two-bubble rating on Aug. 15, 2016. “It was like being in an ashtray.”

Another recent critic took the opposite view.

“Big and clean,”said bwompbwomp, a reviewer from Columbus, Ohio, who gave Virginia Beach five bubbles on Aug. 15.

Other recipients of TripAdvisor’s 2016 certificate of excellence, according to a Google search, include the Naples Zoo in Naples, Fla., the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, Ala. and the Camden on the Lake Resort, Spa & Yacht Club in Lake Ozark, Mo.

In the future, the City will spotlight its recognition by hanging a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence flag outside the Virginia Beach Visitor Information Center, at 2100 Parks Ave., according to Diaz.

“Hopefully, very, very soon,” she said.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post,, and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.