Tag Archives: visitscotland

Challenge to Use of TripAdvisor Reviews in Marketing

Challenge to TripAdvisor Reviews in Marketing

In a challenge to the use of anonymous reviews in marketing and publicity, Kwikchex claims that existing advertising rules mean TripAdvisor reviews cannot be used for marketing purposes.

A growing number of hotel and tour operator websites have been including TripAdvisor content to help promote their product – e.g. Holiday Lettings, Visit Scotland, Accor Hotels, Thomson holidays.

Owners have expressed concern that sites like Holiday Lettings, on which they have already paid to advertise, are now displaying TripAdvisor reviews without asking the property owner’s permission.  Holiday Lettings was acquired by TripAdvisor in 2010.

In its complaint against the use of TripAdvisor reviews in marketing and advertising Kwikchex cites the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) non-broadcast code, which states that marketers must be able to show a review is authentic by proving it was made by an identifiable and potentially contactable person.

From the CAP Code section 3.45 relating to endorsements and testimonials:

Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it.

Kwikchex co-founder Chris Emmins said: “It’s absolutely apparent that reviews are not being verified and that they are being used for promotional purposes. We think that verifying testimonials is key to fulfilling the requirements of the CAP code.”

The code allows testimonials and endorsements to be used by third parties (such as Holiday Lettings, Thomson et al) from a “published source” such as TripAdvisor without permission of the author, but the code then also places responsibility on the originator of the review to authenticate it.

In the submission Kwikchex makes reference to a number of cases in which it believes the CAP code is being breached, including the use of TripAdvisor reviews on the Accor, Thomson and VisitLondon websites.

TripAdvisor Gaffe by VisitScotland?

For some time there have been warning signs that VisitScotland (the body formerly known as the Scottish Tourist Board and charged with promoting tourism in Scotland and grading accommodation) is losing its grip.

Visit Scotland Morphs into TA

The outgoing Chairman of Visit Scotland laid in to regional boards and accommodation owners just before he left for “whingeing” – probably because members have been cheesed off with VisitScotland’s pernickety and irrelevant accommodation grading parameters, on top of its poorly performing online booking system.

It is reported elsewhere that a number of regions have decided to drop VisitScotland and will plough their own furrow in future.

Now VisitScotland proposes to include TripAdvisor reviews alongside its own grading system for accommodation in Scotland. Whilst its own grading system may be pants, it does at least have some objectivity.  But TA’s anonymous, unverified reviews will muddy the previously clear waters.

Can they not see the potential for big trouble ahead among their remaining membership? At present TA is probably not that big a deal for most accommodations in Scotland – TripAdvisor’s influence does not have a great affect on small independent hotels and owners on the east side of the Pond. BUT once TA reviews are featured on an important information source like VisitScotland – it remains important even in its current parlous state – then there may be unexpected consequences:

  • It’ll be welcomed by the few places with lots of good TA reviews, but will further cheese off the majority of the owners featured on VisitScotland, who do not feature strongly on TripAdvisor.
  • Consequently there will be a temptation for places with few reviews, who currently don’t give a jack about TripAdvisor, getting on to friends and relatives to give their ratings on TA – and hence VS – “a wee boost”.
  • While they’re on, they well decide to dish out a few dodgy reviews for the competition, too.

There may be trouble ahead …

Further VisitScotland gaffes:

http://www.planestupid.com/blogs/2008/02/22/visitscotland-loses-plot

http://www.reclaimvs.com/letters2.html

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2007/01/26/newsstory9222650t0.asp

http://holidaysscotland.blogspot.com/2010/04/vs-usually-shoots-itself-in-foot-will.html