Lately we have been busy here with our bed and breakfast, and I have not had any time to post, but after seeing a website, I felt I had to take a minute and share it, along with my opinion, with everybody.
I recently came across this website for a company called Hotel Oracle, the company provides content and marketing services to hotels and restaurants across the globe. One of the services that they offer is “Tripadvisor and third party reviews”, so for $277 a property can get 31 reviews posted to Tripadvisor, all by people that have never even visited the place.
I guess it was just a matter of time before somebody found a way to make a dishonest buck from reviews, and the bad thing is that I don’t believe there is any way that Tripadvisor can effectively combat this. The fact that there is no verification process has always been a week point in the TA system; I have seen many complaints from property owners about bad reviews from people who never stayed, or even disgruntled neighbors and these can be almost impossible to remove.
While this is due to a weakness in the Tripadvisor system, I don’t fault Tripadvisor for it. I am not even sure how they could combat it, as the only people that will know the reviews are fraudulent, are those dishonest people that are involved. While it has been nice to have one location where you can find reviews on almost any property, this may very well be the end of the Tripadvisor era if there is no resolution.
If Tripadvisor is unable to find a viable manner, in which to combat this issue, their reputation may start to suffer, which could cause more people to rely on reviews that are on booking sites like airbnb.com and others, that only allow reviews from guests that actually booked through the system.
As a property owner I always question, a few bad reviews, when a property has many good and only one, or a few, bad reviews. I know that there will always be the type of people out there that will write venomous reviews for ridiculous reasons, but now we will also have to consider the validity of good reviews as well.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, I think those properties that use this service to try and offset a large number of bad reviews will be fairly easy to spot, the difficult ones to find will be the properties that are merely trying to improve their ranking.