Exclusive: 'Fake review' firms are not an issue, says TripAdvisor

by Linda Fox
by Linda Fox
January 22, 2010 07:00 AM GMT

Hoteliers are being plagued by companies promising to post positive reviews on high profile sites such as TripAdvisor in return for a monthly fee.

The companies claim to be able to post the reviews from different places across the globe so as to avoid being picked up by protection put in place by review sites.

Ray Rock of the Llandudno-based Headlands Hotel said the practise risked bringing the credibility of reviews sites under question.

"Lots of people are doing it, I know one hotel that has got 500 reviews, but I have not bothered with it because it’s dishonest and I would rather stand on a just reputation," he said.

He added that another hotel had received a number of reviews before opening to the public.

TripAdvisor vice president of marketing for Europe Alison Copus said the integrity of its reviews was protected through a screening process prior to posting, in-house technology to help rifle out attempts to get around the system, and the community reporting suspicious activity.

"There are companies that claim they can submit reviews and boost a property’s standing in the TripAdvisor popularity index," she said. 

"We have several of these companies on our radar already, and the properties have been penalised appropriately. Using these services is against our rules and will result in penalties.

"In addition to being a violation of our terms of service and an unethical practice, it is also illegal to post fake reviews in the United Kingdom (among other countries) pursuant to the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, adopted by these countries."

She claimed that attempts to post fraudulent information on TripAdvisor were rare because hoteliers understand they are risking their reputation.

Can review sites like Tripadvisor really wheedle out fake reviews? Are review sites losing their credibility? Post your comments below.

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