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By | Category: Travel rumblings

© Dan Sperrin

It is well known that in the early days of TripAdvisor, some of the hotel reviews were deceptive. They were written by the hotels concerned or some of their friends. In some cases they were written by rival hotelliers to try and damage their businesses. Trip Advisor has always said that it tries to weed out reviews that do not ring true. But given the sheer number of reviews is that possible? It has recently announced it has blacklisted 30 hotels. The total figure blacklisted may be as high as 14,000 according to one comment posted on the travel trade magazine Travolution’s website. The Cove Hotel in Cornwall, for offering guests a 10% discount if they posted positive reviews.
Is this wrong?
The Cove replied on the same website saying all it wanted to do was reward loyal customers in a tangible manner and was trying to resolve the matter with the company.
TripAdvisor says that it is not a travel agent or a booking agency but it does make a lot of money by hotels paying for top positions on the site. You obviously don’t want to pay if the majority or even a high percentage if the reviews are negative. So the fact that the company announced in another travel trade magazine, e-tid, that it has a turnover of $485 million and its profit margin was greater than 50% shows how important hoteliers and accommodation providers see this site. Every time we click on a hotel we are making money for them as they receive a fee from the hotel.
The problem still comes down to the reviews and that is the foundation of the business. Some say that some are written by employees that have left. In an industry well known for the high turnover of staff that could amount to a lot of reviews.
Recently I have stayed in a hotel that I have found very good. It is overseas and has a different culture to what we may be used to. Yes, it is expensive in the restaurant because it has a Michelin star. Yet out the five reviews in the last six months, four were universally bad calling it expensive, in a poor location and bemoaning the service. OK, service is viewed differently by many people and it is easy for someone, though ignorance of the culture, to view what is seen by some as acceptable but is viewed by others as not good. But location? It is criticised not because it is tucked next to a swamp or a chemical works but because it is remote and only reached by a narrow road. That does seem unreasonable. Yet how many will be fooled into not staying there? Ho many people will realsie that the negative revews were all posted by Americans who have a different approach to service and travel to many Europeans? It is not that the Americans are “wrong,” just that they see things differently.
And this is the problem with all review sites not just hotel review ones. The quality is based on what everyday people think. And we all think differently.

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