TripAdvisor “Destination Experts”

Mooch around the TripAdvisor forums for a few minutes and you’ll come across posts by people whom TripAdvisor has designated as “Destination Experts”.

Putting aside how expert some of the “experts” are (the main criterion seems to be to post a lot and regularly – many do display good local knowledge but others seem to rely mainly on Google!) it is surprising that TripAdvisor lets some of them get away with regular, open advertising and self-promotion of their business – something that is explicitly forbidden in TripAdvisor’s own forum rules.

The most obvious example is the placing of links by forum Experts to their own commercial websites.

For example:

The identical link at the bottom of each of these posts (and there are 3 787 posts to date by the Loire Valley Expert) goes to a blog which promotes a company specialising in tours of the Loire Valley – a company run by the same TA Loire Valley Expert.

Is there one rule for “TripAdvisor Experts” and another for the rest of the forum members?  Or does no-one at TripAdvisor ever bother looking at their own forum?

I suspect the latter – a case of TripAdvisor not caring enough to look at its own forum, relying instead on other people not only to generate content but also to police it for them.

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16 responses to “TripAdvisor “Destination Experts”

  1. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. As much as the tourism industry related and businesses have issues with trip advisor (and I have some very valid cases), many of the people using the site are grateful for Destination Experts and other people’s travel advice.

    Below is a good link in case you have not seen it in regards to actual trip advisor policy.

    Can I sell or promote services in the forums
    https://www.tripadvisorsupport.com/hc/en-us/articles/200613717

    This is another good one I found, Make TripAdvisor Work for You
    http://www.biggestleaf.com/blog/tripadvisor/

  2. I have found some of the comments on here interesting, I have recently had my TA account disabled. It appears for no reason what so ever. My last posting was honest & helpfull to future travellers. However it appears that the owner’s of the establishment I reviewed may have took exception to my comments & have therefore got me banned from TA. What is the point of TA to a traveller in this instance?

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  4. I am more concerned about the DE who submits huge numbers of reviews with all very high rating scores. One in particular, feigns honesty when he thanks the resort for the lavish free upgrade, but hastens to add in his review that it will not influence his review.

    All posters who have questioned this practice, using any degree of aggression and tenacity, have had their accounts disabled and this includes me. This built in conflict of interest is something TA is not willing to admit and will go to extreme measures to hide.

  5. Interesting debate going on at Tripadvisor regarding the accountability of Destination Experts and disclosure of conflict of interest.

    http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g1-i12104-k5559044-Disclosure_of_Potential_DEs_Conflict_of_Interest-Help_us_make_TripAdvisor_better.html

    • Hilariously, TA has removed the original post and left all the replies!

      • That whole discussion makes me slightly uncomfortable. No, in fact, it makes me VERY uncomfortable. If it came to TA acting upon the suggestion that DE’s (or anyone else, for that matter) ‘disclosing’ potential conflicts of interest, by giving out personal information, then I’d resign as a DE. There’s enough info about me, and what I do for people to make up their minds whether I’m ‘soliciting’ or not. It’s no business of anyone else where I live, work, or what my business connections are. I already provide that information in the profile I have on TA.

        If DE’s want to continue to provide (against TA rules) links to their business websites, or make direct reference to their businesses in posts, then they should be stripped of the DE title.

  6. You’re both making an error here.
    By posting on TA, you are adding free content which makes them stronger.
    TA are scammers and everyone who contributes to their site is supporting the scam whether they know it or not.

    • I’ll be perfectly honest. I don’t care if it makes them ‘stronger’. I post because I genuinely want to help people, and the goodwill that I gain from that makes MY business stronger.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of their review ‘model’, and I’ve been affected by it, but I’d rather keep an eye on them from within, rather than without.

    • Yeah, it’s a dilemma. I’m aware that it’s the free content that is TA’s biggest asset. However, whatever the appearances, and making no apologies for it, I don’t have a problem with user generated content in principle and I’m quite happy to give free advice as long as I don’t think the person asking for it is just lazy.

      In particular I like to use TA to promote tourism in the inland areas of west France that tend to get ignored as the herd heads blindly for the D-Day Beaches and Mont St Michel in the case of Normandy, and Angers/Nantes in the case of Pays de la Loire.

      I do get irritated when people say “Isn’t TripAdvisor wonderful” – when they get an answer. TA isn’t wonderful – many of the contributions are pants but yes, some of the answers are good advice.

      It also pisses me off when someone gives perfectly sound advice on TA but they are ignored because it isn’t what the person wanted to hear. More fool them.

      But what I really rail against are sneaky and underhand practices, blasé attitude to genuine owner worries, refusal to accept blame and faults in their systems, their stubborn resistance to change, apparent belief that they are a law unto themselves and piss-poor communication.

      That’s what this blog is about and also the subject of most of my posts on the TA owners forum. I’ll carry on the struggle from within and without!

      Phil

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned our name on TA as a result of being asked where to stay. I let people make up their own minds. If they click on my name, it brings up some info about us and what we do. Then, they may get in contact. It may sound naff, but I’m more interested in marketing the area than anything else on TA. I do honestly believe it’s a fantastic place to spend a holiday. There’s enough custom to go round, so why antagonise?

  8. You’re absolutely bang on Phil. I’m a DE for the Loire Valley, but I post rarely, and only within my spehere of knowledge, namely the area around Saumur, or places I’ve visited. I’m tired of seeing that same link you pointed out, and I’m tired of the way in which that particular poster goes about his ‘business’. I’ve actually reported quite a few posts that are blatantly advertising, or soliciting on TA. I try very hard not to allude to my own business, but come from a standpoint that any tourism in the area is great for the area, and some may well just seek us out.

    You’re right to point this out. It’s wrong.

    • When someone asks questions like “Can you suggest a gite/campsite/bed and breakfast/hotel near the town of X” it would be perverse to be unable to mention one’s own business if it fitted the bill. But that’s not the same as putting a plug in every post.

      This isn’t the only time I’ve come across spamming on TA, but it’s the most systematic example I’ve seen and I know for a fact it’s been going on at least for months, if not years, as I’ve reported it to TA myself on several occasions but nothing’s ever been done about it.

      I bet if I put a link to this blog at the bottom of every post I made, it would soon be slapped down – and I don’t even make any money out of this! 🙂

    • I think that’s a really healthy attitude. Like you, I post on TA mainly to promote what our area has to offer because I want people to appreciate it – people who steam through or only want to stop one night don’t know what they’re missing, and I want to do my bit to change that.

      Same reasoning with the blogging (not this one – the other two, about places to visit). If the blog was to create business for the B&B I would have stopped long ago, ‘cos it doesn’t!

      Enthusiastic and knowledgeable incomers can often do a better promotional job than locals, as they can see value and interest in things that the natives take for granted.

      I can recall 2 occasions when someone has asked for recommendation of a B&B in our area and I’ve pointed them to our page on TA (not to our own website). But there have been many, many more where I’ve kept my head down cos the poster sounds like an idiot!

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