Back in June of 2013 I did a post about a company that was offering paid Trip Advisor reviews for businesses, well I just learned of another one. In my previous post I mistakenly included a link to the company’s website, not thinking that this would only help to improve their search ranking; I will not be making that mistake that this time around.
This new company was brought to my attention through a LinkedIn group that I am a member of, and during our discussion into the lack of integrity that must be required to not only offer these services, but to use them as well, something occurred to me, knowledge is power. So I intend to do my best to get the word out that, not everything you read on neutral review sites like Trip Advisor, are necessarily going to be true.
As I said in my previous post on this, I do not fault Trip Advisor, they are trying to provide a useful and impartial forum for the posting of reviews, and unfortunately a chink in the armor has been found. Considering there is no requirement to prove a reviewer actually used the services they are reviewing, anyone can leave a review for anyplace, whether or not they actually availed themselves of the particular businesses services.
This fact is now being exploited by some unscrupulous people and business, in the form of paid reviews, and not just for lodgings, this particular companies website makes reference to helping a restaurant as well. I imagine that any type of business that is reviewable is eligible for this type of service from lodgings and restaurants, to tour agencies and destinations.
As a B&B business owner myself, I work hard to ensure that my guests all enjoy their time here with us and that they are well taken care of. As such I also take great pride in my reviews as well as my site rankings, and this includes my ranking on Trip Advisor. The fact that a business could just pay a company to post a bunch of false reviews, and possibly rise their ranking to be above mine is quite bothersome. Don’t get me wrong, if my position drops due to legitimate reviews, that is just business and will push me to do better, but to lose a position to a business that does nothing more than pay a company, well that is just wrong.
So when you are looking for lodging options for a future trip, and you start reading reviews, consider the possible source of the review. I wish there was an easy way to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to reviews, but unfortunately I can’t tell you what, if anything, you could watch for, as reviews, like bookings can come in waves with no real logic or pattern, and these companies tend to employ veteran or at least seasoned reviewers, so that the reviews blend in.
One thing I would be suspicious of when reading property reviews would be a number of new good reviews, if the general history for the property has been neutral to negative. One thing I would especially recommend when looking for lodgings, and something I always do, is to look for reviews on booking sites as well. Reviews that are left on sites like Booking.com and Airbnb can only be left if the person actually booked through the site and stayed at the property. So these reviews combined with those you may find on sites like Trip Advisor should give you a fairly good idea of what a property may really be like.