How to Improve TripAdvisor Ranking

Great Marketing Job – or Fiddling the Reviews?

Let’s say a small B&B in France, which has been operating for at least 5 years but has had no reviews on TripAdvisor, suddenly receives 16 glowing reviews in the space of a few months – all 5 stars, all from Britons and all except one from people with only this one review to their name.

It leaps up the rankings on TripAdvisor, not surprisingly.   So what do you think is the more likely explanation?

  1. Foul : the flip side of the fake reviews coin – rather than malicious reviews, it is probably an owner rigging the ratings with fake reviews
  2. Fair : genuine guest reviews, perhaps because the owner is encouraging them to do so
  3. Some other reason?

This is a genuine case on TripAdvisor – what do you think?  I’m not sure either way, and therein lies the dilemma of anonymous reviews – should you trust the reviews or not?

If you’re a registered owner on TripAdvisor you’ll find a link to the same question on the Owners’ Forum if you click the image:

Phil

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8 responses to “How to Improve TripAdvisor Ranking

  1. TA has a new concept called review Matrix …. in it’s basic (free) form it let’s you see what % of 100 your business has on TA.

    If you BUY the advanced version you can keep tabs on your competitors with an alert if your competitors get too close …. you then ring up your marketing company who will then ‘find’ a 100% perfect review … and so on.

    That is how 99.9999% of the businesses at the top 2/3 of TA ranking do it.

    A new resort has opened near us … yes we are a little jealous but it is normal to worry a bit, but it has only been open since June 2011. They now have 23 reviews that are all perfect. They are number 1 on TA. that easy.

    If you never have real customers … it is hard to get a 4 or a 3 stars. If you have real customers … no matter how great your place … there is someone to disagree …. it’s human. Put that with the fact that I know how many people are staying there or not … and I know it’s 90% fake … so what will TA say? Nothing.

    If you then report them (I did wait until review number 15 or so to give them a chance) TA don’t care as they have paid to list on TA and paid for ReviewMetrix at $75 a month.

  2. We have now started the group defamation action against TripAdvisor and are contacting hotels and owners who have been particularly severe victims of not just malicious posters , but of malpractice directly by TA Here’s the link to the case against them – and we have a wealth of very specific and damning evidence too. http://www.kwikchex.com/2010/08/group-defamation-action/
    Neither are we being completely negative – joining the action is actually included in the new ‘All Rounders’ Promote & Protect service, which we believe will benefit reputable businesses and consumers alike – you will see that it includes an Authenticated Review service too! http://www.kwikchex.com/reputation-solutions-tools/services-for-hotels-restaurants/

  3. Hi Phil,
    Been there, tried that.
    The only way they will take your business off TA is if you take your website down first. They take this as ‘proof’ that you are no longer trading. I wish I had done this when I was closed for refurb, because as you point out, once on always on, and now the refurb is done I cannot take my website down (in retrospect it would have paid dividends to take it down during refurb, get it off TA and then put it back up again once the refurb was done. This is no good to me in hindsight, but anyone else in the same situation would be well advised to use this tractic to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and hope that those TA tentacles don’t find you, at least for a while . . .

  4. Good question, Phil.

    The ‘suddenness’ of the reviews wouldn’t be an automatic problem for me (as you pointed out, the owner might have started requesting or even incentivising his clients to give feedback at TA).

    If this place only got 5* reviews from this point on, then the absence of any critical feedback would worry me as it wouldn’t be realistic.

    It would be the content of the reviews that I would home in on to decide whether these were credible or not. How would I know? Some fake reviews are patently ‘formulaic’ – like those for many of the 5* reviews for the controversial Scientologist-owned Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel. Those reviews use the word ‘magic’ consitently, refer to the 3 owners by name (and praise them to the skies), thank the staff profusely and usually end by mentioning not being able to wait until their next visit.

    Examine that hotel in TripAdvisor and take a look at the striking disparity between 1* and 5* reviews. It’s a great live case-study in what’s real and what isn’t

    • I agree with your point about repeated use of the owners’ names in reviews. In our own reviews our names get used very occasionally, but not regularly. Some places have ‘dodgy’ reviews (including the one I was thinking of when I wrote this piece) that use first names with monotonous regularly – it always looks fishy.

      When every review is 5 stars on every aspect, it’s extraordinary not to have a single mention on TA during the previous 5 years of operation. There may well be a couple of genuine reviews in there but … ?

      I suppose people can make up their own minds, but the average TA user seems to be touchingly trusting. I know that guests who mention TA to me appear shocked when I say that it is possible for places to have fake reviews on TA!

  5. Hi – My story may be typical. I noticed that Google searches show reviews and we had only one from a small reviews site I had never heard of. So I registered our business at TripAdvisor (it was not there before) and started handing out cards to visitors. We quickly got some good reviews, which now appear on Google, and very proud of them I was too. All fair play and above-board so far as I can see. But it’s a two-edged sword. We now have a stinking review which includes an outright libel – one which is very upsetting to everyone here. If I had my time again I would not put our business on TripAdvisor because you open yourself to vary great risks. My advice to owners is – if you are not on TripAdvisor don’t voluntarily put your business on there. The risks outweigh the benefits.

    • Yup – and once you’re on, you’re on.

      However, I wonder if anyone has ever tried the tactic of telling TA that their accommodation/hotel/restaurant has closed? They do claim to remove listings in those circumstances.

      Phil

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention How to Improve TripAdvisor Ranking « TripAdvisorWatch: Travel Review Sites in Focus -- Topsy.com

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