The screening processes of TripAdvisor remain firmly under the spotlight as the travel review website faces renewed allegations of manipulation of reviews and ratings by hoteliers.
Among the recent criticisms made of TripAdvisor were those published in an article in the UKs Telegraph, which claimed that two readers had been offered nearly US$300 by an English hotel to delete a negative review they had posted of the property.
A London restaurant that was not even open ranked as the 17th best in the city, the newspaper also reported.
After just nine reviews made over two weeks, the restaurant, which appeared briefly in the British capital last summer, was ranked by TripAdvisor as the 11th best in the capital (out of nearly 10,000) before falling to 76th place after it had closed.
Then, just one month after the submission of three fake reviews (two of which were identical) in mid-February by reputation management company, Kwikchex, the restaurant had risen to the 17th best in London.
Such case studies blow apart TripAdvisors claims about sophisticated filtering systems, and illustrate how unreliable its reviews are, Kwikchex founder Chris Emmins said.
In another case, following the publication of a negative review they had posted of a property in Gloucestershire (UK), two guests were offered a refund of GBŁ180 (US$287) by hotel management under the proviso they remove their scathing review, which criticised the hotels bland food, dusty rooms, noisy fellow guests and brusque staff. The regular TripAdvisor users subsequently declined the offer.
A third incident brought to light the glowing appraisal of a luxury Caribbean resort, which was later discovered to have been submitted by an investor of the hotel. Fellow shareholders had written at least half of the other reviews of the property, the investor claimed in a later posting.
Since 2010, Kwikchex has been campaigning for TripAdvisor to accept only reviews from authenticated patrons rather than anonymous users, the Telegraph reported.
However, TripAdvisor backs the integrity of its content, which it says is fundamental to its success.
Without it, we wouldnt have the loyalty we enjoy from the 50 million visitors who use our site each month, the website stated.
"We stand by the proven model we already have in place, because we believe all travellers, not just the one individual who made the reservation or has the receipt, are entitled to share their honest feedback about where they have stayed.
Requiring a proof of stay would dramatically reduce the number of reviews on the site, and we know from user feedback that our visitors value both the quantity and quality of the reviews available.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H