The CEO of TripAdvisor recently stated in an interview the he is skeptical that Google will “do no evil” regarding the search engine giant’s movement into the travel industry, but what about TripAdvisor themselves?
The online travel review site went public recently after spinning off from Expedia. TripAdvisor is unarguably the largest travel review site and has millions of reviews for Hotels, Restaurants and tourist sites throughout the world. The site has however come under fire in recent months by Hotels and Restaurants saying their businesses have been damaged by bad reviews.
The problem starts with the fact anyone can review any property. You don’t have to provide your real name, you don’t have to have stayed there or even seen the property. So I can review my own property and tell you how fantastic it is or I can get several friends to help me out. On the flipside I can also use my small army to write bad reviews of your property. That is what these businesses are complaining about.
Over 700 Hotels and Restaurants in the UK are threatening legal action for having their businesses damaged by what they say are malicious and anonymous postings. Kwikchex a UK firm dealing with online reputations has gotten numerous requests for assistance from businesses in the UK that have received bad reviews and after attempting to contact Tripadvisor to tell their sides of the story were ignored. This leaves these establishments little recourse to dispute the reviews.
Lately another charge has come out with over 80 Hotels and Bed and Breakfast establishments stating they were blackmailed by guests who threatened to write bad reviews on the site unless they received free upgrades or better service.
The fight continues with Hotels threatening to sue because TripAdvisor determined that either the Hotel or people working for the Hotel fabricated reviews and as a result placed a red warning sign on the listing warning their readers. One Hotel, The Riverside Hotel in Evesham England is suing because of this.
As a result the site is being investigated by the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) because of all of the complaints.
What is ironic is the fact that Expedia, TripAdvisors former parent company, is now developing its own review site. The site will differ in how the process works. Under the Expedia model, after you have booked a Hotel and stayed there, you will receive an email that you can log on to your account and be given the option of writing a review. That way they can get reviews only from people that have actually been to a Hotel. It makes you wonder why they did not do that when they owned TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor used to have the slogan “reviews you can trust” on its hotel listings, that has recently changed to “reviews from our community”.
The bottom line is with any review site you have to use it as a guide and don’t believe everything you see on it. I have used TripAdvisor in the past but I usually check out the profiles of the reviewer and look at all of their reviews to try and determine if they are real travelers or not.