#TripAdvisor Ordered to Remove False Claims in UK

TripAdvisor Ordered to Remove Advertising Claims

TripAdvisor has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to remove a number of marketing claims from its UK website.  This follows complaints to the UK advertising watchdog that the TripAdvisor website includes false claims such as “Read real reviews from real travellers”, “TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travellers”, “Reviews you can trust” and “More than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from travellers around the world”.

The ASA ruled that consumers might be fooled by fraudulent posts since reviews on TripAdvisor could be posted “without any form of verification” and its claims of trustworthiness were misleading.

“Don’t major on trustworthiness if fake reviews can appear”, said Guy Parker, ASA chief executive.

The ASA  findings stated: “We noted that reviewers were asked to agree to a declaration that their review was their genuine opinion of the hotel and that they had no personal or business affiliation with the hotel, or been offered an incentive to write a review for it.

“(But) We also noted that reviewers were not asked to similarly confirm that they had no competitive interest in the place they were reviewing, or were posting a review on behalf of a competitor or other interested party, and we did not consider that agreeing to a declaration in itself would necessarily prevent non-genuine reviews from being posted on the site.

“Notwithstanding that, we understood that reviews could be placed on the site without any form of verification, and that whilst TripAdvisor took steps to monitor and deal with suspicious activity, it was possible that non-genuine content would appear on the site undetected.”

It concluded that certain TripAdvisor advertising slogans and claims were misleading because they implied that consumers could be assured that all review content on the TripAdvisor site was genuine, when that was not in fact the case.

It told TripAdvisor “not to claim or imply that all the website were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted”.

It warned that the issue of fake reviews was particularly a problem  if a business only had a small number of reviews, and that offering owners a right to reply did not address the problem.

“This should be regarded as a benchmark ruling which applies to all web sites which make claims about the reliability of their user-created content,” the ASA’s spokesman Matthew Wilson said.

Despite the ruling, TripAdvisor downplayed the risk of customers being misled. “We have confidence that the 50 million users who come to our site every month trust the reviews they read on TripAdvisor, which is why they keep coming back to us in increasingly larger numbers to plan and have the perfect trip,” it said in a statement.

The tripadvisor.co.uk homepage now contains no reference to the word “trust” and simply describes itself as “the world’s largest travel site”.  However, its international tripadvisor.com website, also visible in the UK, continues to describe its content as the “world’s most trusted travel advice” and that “you’ll find real hotel reviews you can trust”.

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3 responses to “#TripAdvisor Ordered to Remove False Claims in UK

  1. I know for sure that Tripadvisor is completely corrupt , I have posted many reviews , real reviews covering from Singapore , Malaysia , Thailand , Indonesia , I spent many hours posting honests reviews.
    Then in December 2011 I posted some info for an extremely nice Villa in Sanur Bali & all of a sudden there was an attack from other regular posters who were friends of a rival business , they complained & the rival owner had obviously paid money to have the reviews taken down & any postings relating to this Villa were deleted without any explanation , I ask for a reason & was informed they don’t have to give a reason.
    Now this would not really bother me normally but the rival Villa accommodation was clearly at a much lower standard & very obvious that there were many fake reviews .I visited these Villa’s myself & had a look at what is ranked number one Villa’s in Sanur & found them to be very poor standard proving my suspicions.
    I posted my concern on Tripadvisor & there response was to cancel my account , very mature reaction for a so called professional outfit.To close my account with months of real reviews is very strange way to deal with this situation & I’m not the only one it has happened to.

    • I’d be interested to know how you found out that the friends of a rival business were involved in a conspiracy against a place you reviewed and were paid to complain about one of your reviews.

  2. You have an interesting site!
    Reviews are crucial, in our opinion, in helping holiday makers select a holiday rental, hotel, villa…or even a hire car or airline seat! The vast majority of buyers will do at least some work to get feedback from others on what they are buying.
    We feel vacationers have, on the whole, recognized that a “general” score is important – and that one of a kind, extreme reviews – be they positive or negative – can often be discounted.
    At our own site we are putting in place an algorithm that will score holiday rentals based on guest feedback, the accuracy and completeness of the listing and of details on the locality, the frequency with which the availability calendar is kept up to date, and in particular on how far owners go to look after their guests and exceed their expectations. We hope this will prove useful to potential guests, who can always also visit Tripadvisor or other such sites for additional reviews…and then make an informed decision. After all, we are aware that the main annual holiday represents one of the major annual expenditures for most people, so the more details they have on their planned holiday, the better.

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