TripAdvisor and it’s Reviews

By | Category: Travel rumblings

UPDATE:
See the new Charles Starmer-Smith’s piece in the Daily Telegraph, 8th Oct 2010 for another view on how this story is unfolding, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/hotels/8050127/Tripadvisor-reviews-can-we-trust-them.html

For some time, readers will know that CD-Traveller has urged caution in looking at the reviews on comparison/review sites. In the past there has been evidence of reviews written by rivals, reviews that have been scathing and untrue. Equally some companies have written their own which praised to the heights their own offerings. Most are genuine but which do you believe?
Now about 400 hotels and restaurants have banded together as the Cloud Industry Forum and claim that some reviews are false and/or unfair and border on defamation. They are considering a group defamation action.
They say that writing reviews without proof is unacceptable and damaging. They are right but how do you prove opinion? I have known people label a hotel room as dirty because of a mark on the carpet. Is that dirty or just not properly cleaned? Interpretation is a personal thing. A meal that I find unappetising might be lauded by someone else.
Defamation, however, can be extremely damaging and could ultimately cause a restaurant or a hotel to close. Lying would not be condoned by TripAdvisor and they have removed some reviews that have been written deliberately to praise or condemn when they have found about them. But can they vet every review? Their whole business is based on having reviews, millions of them. Somehow they will have to tighten their vetting lest viewers turn away. Fair comment is too important to their type of business.
As CD-Traveller has written in the past, the fairest way to judge reviews on sites like TripAdvisor is to ignore any reviews where there are just a few comments. Ignore also any older comments as changes could have been made in the meantime. The best are where there are lots over the last couple of weeks and that they seem to you fair-minded.

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