The Inquirer-Home

Glowing review ruins a hotel's business

Updated In-house penned review gets flagged by Tripadvisor
Fri Sep 30 2011, 13:45

A HOTEL has run into problems with Tripadvisor after someone apparently posted a rather glowing review about it from within the hotel itself.

The hotel was doing pretty good business until someone at Tripadvisor spotted that a recent review looked suspicious and flagged it. Since then trade at the hotel has dropped off.

"TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe that individuals or entities associated with or having an interest in this property may have interfered with traveller reviews and/or the popularity index for this property," says a note at the Riverside Hotel and Restaurant review web page at Tripadvisor.

"We make our best efforts to identify suspicious content and are always working to improve the processes we use to assess traveller reviews."

According to the Telegraph newspaper the hotel's owner is reporting a "catastrophic collapse in bookings" since the flag went up, and is trying to work out how the review came to be posted to Tripadvisor from within its IP range.

An unnamed customer is said to be responsible for the review, and is thought to have stayed at the hotel for a month. It was presumably during this time that he posted the review.

Tripadvisor is said to be going back through its reviews and checking to see whether any of the more favourable ones are from other hotels' own IP addresses. This, of course, does not help Deborah Sinclair, the owner of the Riverside Hotel and Restaurant.

"When it went up, the phone stopped ringing. I guarantee 100 per cent I've not written anything about my hotel on there," she said, adding that the warning led to "catastrophic collapse of bookings, from high occupancy to zero and is endangering the survival of the business".

British libel law being what it is, Tripadvisor perhaps should reconsider whether it can prove its allegation and, if the hotel offers internet service to its guests, we tend to doubt that the review having come from its IP address range might be sufficient.

Update
Tripadvisor responded to the INQUIRER with more information about the cause of the red badge, and explained that the hotel was suspected of more than just feathering its own nest.

"The red badge was NOT applied as a result of an isolated review posted by a guest from the hotel's lobby. As a result of our investigation, we have reasonable cause to believe that the owner and/or individuals associated with the owner fraudulently posted positive reviews on the Riverside Hotel & Restaurant and negative reviews on a competitor's property," it said in a statement.

"We issued warnings to the owner on 16th March and 23rd August and have since received communications from the owner. The identified activity continued despite our warnings and, as the activity is against our policies, we applied the red badge to protect consumers." µ

 

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