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Archive for November 12th, 2010

If websites like TripAdvisor are riddled with fake reviews, where will the traveller go for authentic advice ?

TripAdvisor
Bravo TripAdvisor

A report by the travel website, Travolution, this month, confirmed my suspicions that tour operators are being approached by companies promising to post positive reviews on websites in return for monthly fees or discounts on their services. The report claims that such companies can avoid the protection measures that websites have put in place, by posting the reviews from different locations around the world. The report even claimed that one tour company had received a number of reviews before it had even started operating tours.

 To be fair to TripAdvisor it has already begun imposing disclaimers. It admits that it is aware of several companies offering paid-for positive reviews and claims that they have been penalised appropriately.

But I fear that if it was possible to unearth all the fake reviews, there might not be enough red pen to go around. Like drug users in sport, the people committing the offences are nearly always one step ahead of those trying to catch them.

“In fact, all that is required to upload these travel “truths” is an anonymous username and email address (which can easily be faked).”

“TripAdvisor’s successful business model appears to be based upon a minimum of checks, an arrogant disregard for accuracy and truthfulness, and a customer-service regime that is virtually non-existent. It is too easy for tour companies to write their own reviews, or pay others to write them. It is too easy for reviewers to post untruthful or damaging reviews, or for travel companies to ‘sabotage’ their competitors”

“Why should the fate of a business be controlled by “anonymous” users who don’t even have to verify or validate their actual visit? ”

  Several travel companies have embraced these user-generated websites, employing staff to contact clients after they have completed their tour (to right any wrongs and encourage positive feedback). The bigger operators and some smaller ones (you know who you are) send out emails encouraging clients to post reviews; tourist boards, such as VisitScotland and VisitLondon, include TripAdvisor ratings on their websites.

TripAdvisor has taken steps to counter fake reviews. Last year disclaimers began appearing when reviews came under suspicion of being fake. The company said that it uses specialist software and algorithms to screen reviews and has a team of moderators to investigate suspicious postings.

“Advisor has turned into a whining fest where unhappy powerless people can become powerful…kind of like the kid that got picked on in school. “

Users are aware that little tricks – adding an element of critique to a glowing review, saying something positive before you slate a particular tour, using different email addresses and computers, reviewing other operators to establish a track record – can help them get around the detectors. Many UK tour operators are very active with this technique.

There are even websites to help you circumvent the rules. “Writing fake reviews is a great option for almost any business,” said Bob McClain of Wordsmithbob.com, a site that offers a masterclass in the craft.

www.ihateTripAdvisor.org.uk
http://www.Wordsmithbob.com
http://www.independent.ie/travel/travel-advice/tripadvisor-can-we-trust-it-2382242.html
http://tripadvisorwatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/tripadvisor-pay-review-fake/
http://www.travolution.co.uk/articles/2010/01/22/3184/exclusive-fake-review-firms-are-not-an-issue-says-tripadvisor.html
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Fortunatly we have only great reviews on tripadvsor (not sure after this article is published  though?) However if I could easily manipulate tripadvisor reviews anyone could  – you have been warned!
Do more research, use your common sense and do not rely on Tripadvisor – dont believe everthing you read, good or Bad!

External Links

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HisTOURies UK The Best Tours in History

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