Monday, February 7, 2011

TripAdvisor Versus True Advisors by Sara Macefield

Whenever I’ve flicked through the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, I’ve always been puzzled as to how some hotels can attract feedback of such opposing extremes. On the one hand, there will be a glowing report from Mr and Mrs Over-the-Moon about how they’ve had the best stay of their lives; on the other will be a bitter diatribe-like rant from Mr and Mrs Angry that leaves you thinking their lives have been irreversibly blighted by the experience.

How can a single property go from being so wonderful to so terrible?

Having gone on to TripAdvisor and other such sites for guidance, reviews like that leave me more confused than ever and I end up having to go with my gut feeling or better still, turn to a source where the reviews are accredited.

You see, I have a problem with anonymous claims and statements.

As a journalist who is used to putting my name to whatever I write, I have to make damn sure that my facts are correct and my views are genuine and defensible. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the authors of posts on TripAdvsor and other such sites makes me suspicious, especially when I hear of stories where complainants have a grudge to bear or are working to some hidden agenda.

Likewise, I also wonder if syrupy sweet reviews have been posted by the hotelier himself, his friends or even his public relations company.

It doesn’t seem as ridiculous as it sounds as such cases have come to light in the past, and TripAdvisor, for one, promised to step up its monitoring. But is any system foolproof? Allowing people to write whatever they like, without having to face the consequences, sets a dangerous precedent to my mind. Why should they be above putting their name to what they write and why aren’t they made to?

This is the issue that has been taken up Scottish entrepreneur and hotelier Duncan Bannatyne who is leading a campaign again a negative review of one of his hotels on TripAdvisor. His calls for the US-based site to remove fraudulent and defamatory reviews have turned the spotlight on a company, known for attracting the wrath of hundreds of hoteliers for its virtual “anything goes” policy on reviews.

Adam Raphael, editor of the Good Hotel Guide, which tracks its reviews; knows the identity of the authors; and checks up on the comments they make; has branded TripAdvisor as “shameless” for its “feeble” approach over authenticating contributions.

About Definitive Caribbean, Sara says:
As a reader, you may not agree with everything you read on Definitive Caribbean, but at least you know who’s written it, and can contact them if you feel strongly enough.

Such openness brings trustworthiness that those at DefinitiveCaribbean and the Good Hotel Guide strive for and sites such as TripAdvisor can never hope to achieve unless they take radical and badly needed action.

11 comments:

  1. Loreto Duffy-MayersFebruary 7, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I worked in several hotels and constantly monitored these sites. What I would do when we got a "good" letter or e-mail from a guest, was to ask them to post a review on the websites. We got the very occasional bad review but I did follow them up and even in one instance I posted a manager's comment against a particularly bad review.
    Hotels should make a point of following up these "bad" reviews. If the person says they are English and stayed at the property in January, check to see if those complaints were made to the hotel or the tour rep. If they weren't or the hotel feels that they have been treated unfairly then respond.
    Hoteliers have rights too.Sometimes it is the guest who should be on the website!!!!

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  2. HI i think why hotels dont follow up bad press is cheaper to offer a guest 2-3 free meal and put the story to bed !!

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  3. Users need to give their stay dates and details. Stays should be verified. Reviews should be moderated and verified. Too much work? Well don't allow the reviews in the first place! There has to be a level playing field and it has to be fair for everyone. No free lunches!

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  4. I agree that now that it has been around for a while that it doesn't seem as reliable. Interesting post

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  5. I often go to tripadvisor to see hotel reviews.generally.I think tripadvisor reviews is real

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  6. Thank you to tripadvisor for commenting on this post as above, haha. I think the point of the article is not to point out that Tripadvisor is unreliable, rather that because of the power it wields and the trust placed in it by innocent travellers, shoudl there not be more of a verification system for those that have posted reviews and a stricter policy allowing hotels to have right of reply and remove false reviews before they are even published...Innocent until proven guilty?

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  7. I agree that people put too much stock in the reviews on Tripadvisor. I have owned and operated a tourism related business on a Caribbbean island for over 10 years, but TA wouldn't let me list it on their site because we didn't have a "location". It's a unique mobile service operated out of our home, but didn't count because of their arbitrary policy.
    However, I have seen large plugs for businesses on my island touting themselves as "eco-tourism" related when they operate a bunch of ATVs and run them through the rainforest!

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  8. Thank you for writing about TripAdvisor and negative vs positive reviews. I don't rely on TripAdvisor heavily as I find them too conflicting. Word of mouth among trusted friends and acquaintances is better. When someone posts something and signs themselves as anonymous, that makes it difficult to believe that person's reviews regardless if its positive or not. Thanks for bringing this to light. I hope others will read this and learn from it. :-)

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  9. Here's another interesting article about Tripadvisor and their struggle with honesty and power - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8760616/TripAdvisor-removes-reviews-you-can-trust-slogan-from-website.html

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  10. I like and rely mostly in TripAdvisor whenever I go travel to any places or countries. I know they're real.

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  11. I need great recommendations for good places for winter vacations. I can't stay in New England all winter. Which Caribbean island is best?

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