TripAdvisor - Business creator or just a scam?

You may have read this week that The Atlantic Hotel has won the accolade of top UK luxury hotel in 2006 on TripAdvisor. Congratulations to Paddy Burke and his colleagues out west - on top of the Michelin Star awarded to Ocean Restaurant this week, it's a great achievement for the hotel and of PR benefit both to the hotel & Jersey.

The success of TripAdvisor is well documented- 5 million reviews covering more than 220,000 hotels and attractions and more than 20 million unique visitors each month. There is no doubt that consumer-driven content sites or Web 2.0 as it is known in the techie world has taken over from the traditional hotel guides as the principle way in which on-line travel purchasers are choosing where to stay. Both the RAC & Les Routiers hotel guides have stopped publishing as result of consumers switching to websites for supposedly 'unbiased' reports.

Recently however, there has been quite a bit of negative publicity about these sites, with investigations showing that owners and their friends were publishing their own fake reviews in order to boost their hotel rating and position and even worse publishing damning reviews of competitor properties in order to drop them down the chart.

The Sunday Times conducted an undercover investigation in November which proved:
  • 'Guests' who had never stayed at a hotel can boost or depress ratings by posting fake reviews

  • Poorly rated establishments can lift their reputations from one to four stars in a matter of hours by posting fictional reviews

  • Some establishments attempt to damage the reputations of rivals.

You can read the article in full on the Times website. Now I am not suggesting at all that this is common, but I am aware of a couple of establishments in Jersey which have posted their own reviews. Perhaps there's nothing wrong with this if you can get away with it, but it does mean that consumers cannot be 100% confident in the feedback.

Last week alongside the accolades for The Atlantic, TripAdvisor published their Top 10 dirtiest hotels in the UK - happily there were no Jersey entries! Personally, I have used the site a lot to plan trips & so far have not been disappointed. Anyone else had a good or bad experience of user-generated content sites?


Anonymous said...

Trip Advisor is a scam- think about it...there are negative reviews which cause businesses to keep checking their site, which boosts their stats, which gives the advertisers a reason to use them...and so on. There are many, many reports about guests actually threatening to post a review in TA if the business didn't give them what they wanted...hopefully TA will fall to the wayside and people will figure out what a scam it really is. Do they really have real people who work for them?

Anonymous said...

As a Hotel owner, I find that Trip Advisor publishes anything regardless of validity or truth. If you try to confront them, they hide behind the "proprietary nature of their information" garbage, and will not confront or repond to any requests for more information on a particular review. We have had several malicious reviews, which according to their "posting guidelines" should have never been published. When confronted about it, their standard response is "we will investigate and make a determination as to the validity of the review". Of course, nothing ever happens, and in the meantime, they are playing with my livelyhood. They will also randomely delete good reviews. It seems that they want to focus more on the bad than the good. This forces me as an owner, to periodically check their site, which results in more hits and more money for them. I have asked them for proof as to whether a reviewer has even stayed at our hotel, but they refuse to respond. Probably because they have no proof. As an owner, you are at their mercy. No one should be allowed to have that much power, and play with peoples livelyhoods.

Bijay said...

My wife & I are avid travelers. We like to consider ourselves retired though I'm 39 & she's 30 because our love for travel is so great that it is all that we want to do for the rest of our lives.
One of the most important tools that aid us in our journeys is (was) It did happen a couple of times that we read rave reviews about certain hotels & decided to stay there only to find the place terrible. Whatever might have been the case I, being a loyal tripadvisor follower felt it my duty & obligation to post my own reviews to help my fellow travelers in their choice of hotels.
We stayed at one such highly recommended hotel in Rome called Welrome based on the amazing tripadvisor reviews & recommendations. When we actually checked in this property was so terrible that there are no words that I can use that would be strong enough to elucidate our horror. We promptly checked out & moved in to a better & cheaper property across the road.
Upon returning home I felt duly obliged to post our review on this terrible hotel on tripadvisor so as to warn other unsuspecting travelers about this hellhole. I received the confirmation of my damning review having been posted by
When we had a similar experience at Tongsai Bay in Koh Samui (Thailand) last week where I found the reviews much more glorifying of a non-deserving hotel I had a niggling and worrying doubt, was tripadvisor manipulating reviews to suit their interests? It was out of this curiosity that I accessed the reviews of Welrome Hotel & to my horror I found that my review had been deleted. Why?
I could understand if certain cronies of Welrome had posted fake reviews to unjustifiably glorify this sad & disgusting property. What baffles me is that why would tripadvisor delete a genuine review from a regular patron of their website like myself.
This episode has shattered my faith in Tripadvisor & I would like to share my increased suspicion with everyone that reviews on Tripadvisor might need to be taken with a sackful of salt.

Anonymous said...

As a Hotel Manager
I Have wrote to Watch Dog BBC Today

This website making millions of money by twisting the wrong information

Please join me facbook tripadvisor
vijay an rajandran
Group shut dow this website-Trip advisor

Anonymous said...

Trip advisor for restaurants is a
total scam.There is a certain restaurant in lake george ny who enjoys being #1 because for reason
trip advsor only knows takes off
all there negative reviews.Whene a
group of retaurant owners sent TA
the negative reviews that were taken and demanded they be put back on there is no response.This is the only restaurant that can have there negative reviews take off. A person reviewed 4 restaurants a long with #1 and there reviews on the other 3 are still on but this but #1 was removed along with another 3 negatives in the past week. Trip aadvisor will not adress this issue.ANY SUGGESTIONs !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Trip Advisor is a TOTAL SCAM! Do not waste your time on their reviews. They posted great (updated) reviews of the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverfront hotel and in actuality, it was a run down, musty, moldy, bodily fluid stained sheets, unhelpful staff, outdated hotel that is not worth more than maybe a $20 one night, last resort stay! SCAM, SCAM SCAM!!!!

BigEd said...

I own a B&B in Cornwall I have had customers take the time and trouble to contact me to tell me that they have left a nice review on trip advisor but they cant get them published. I have to explain to them that because I refuse to subscribe to their website trip advisor will not publish good reviews of my B&B. I don`t believe it matters a damn what happens on TA most of my customers are repeats and come because of the quality of rooms and service they get TA might as well not exist for all I care, if you give people what they want they will return

Anonymous said...

I can vouch that Trip Advisor is a scam, incompetent or at least turning a blind eye. I worked in the hotel industry for many years as a manager of a small hotel. Our managing director always kept a tight eye on tripadvisor's approval ratings. Everytime a bad review came out I had to post at least 5 or 6 positive reviews. True, Tripadvisor at least avoided posting comments that came from the same IP address but this was easily overcome by accessing a different PC from a differnt site. Since WIFI is almost everywhere these days it wasn't hard. Our hotel had come from a small time to a highly respected in the span of less than two years. 90% of the positive comments on that hotel are hotel posted, I should know as I posted them. I never agreed to this practice but it I would have been "encouraged to resign" if I refused. I have since left the employ of that hotel and wish to clear my conscience a bit. I do not wish to name the hotel or myself in fear of my safety.

Steap said...

Does TripAdvisor got license to ruine someone's business with fake and spam reviews? Many hardworking businesses have been victim of this website. Anyone can put any non-sense fake reviews just to damage rivals business. Pleas visit our facebook page too...