Irish Hotel Faked Reviews

Clare Inn Hotel & Suites, one of the Lynch Hotel Group, has been given a “red badge” warning by TripAdvisor for reviews posted about it.

A TripAdvisor spokesperson said : “We have reasonable cause to believe the Clare Inn has engaged in suspect fake reviews on TripAdvisor.  Subsequently, a red badge has been applied to the Clare Inn pages on the site, warning all potential guests of the suspected activity. We have completed a thorough investigation and removed the reviews.

“The Clare Inn is the only Lynch Hotel Group property to have received a red badge, although reviews have been removed from other hotels within the group.”

RTE Four Live broadcast details of the story yesterday, claiming a hotel employee emailed seven colleagues telling them to fake good customer reviews.

The email, dated October 4, said there was a need for good reviews as renovation work had just begun:

We have come up with a plan for everyone on this email only to post a review about their stay at the Clare Inn.

You must do this from your HOME PC or internet cafe, do not use a Lynch PC or the IP address will be picked up.

I’d rather you didn’t discuss this with your team. This is not something we would normally endorse but the reviews of the Clare Inn at the moment leave us with no choice.

Please do not use hotel language or else our plan will backfire.

The email also told staff to “praise value for money” at the hotel and that different TripAdvisor accounts had already been set up for the staff involved.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg – the problem of fake reviews on TripAdvisor goes way beyond this one hotel and its crass attempt at deception.  We’ll have news soon on how many other properties have been “red flagged” in this way.

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10 responses to “Irish Hotel Faked Reviews

  1. Thank you been looking for this information.

  2. Pingback: Can Owners Successfully Cheat on TripAdvisor? | TripAdvisorWatch: Travel Review Sites in Focus

  3. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the comment on my website and my apologies for not making the point clearly the first three tips on guaranteeing online reviews are tongue in cheek.

    The sad thing with this story is how obviously the management know they have a serious problem with their establishment but have to stoop to a dumb and clumsy attempt to hide it online.

    An interesting thing when researching a radio spot I did on this last week was the number of people who mentioned to me that establishments are pushing guests to put favourable reviews online.

    I also spoke to two people who’d been threatened by places they’d poorly reviewed under their own names.

    It’s interesting how establishments are struggling with the idea that lying or shutting down your critics isn’t a sustainable strategy.

    • Hullo Paul

      I thought those tips had to be a wind-up of some sort – but in the absence of a 😉 I had to ask to be sure!

      I agree with much of the rest of what you said. When people can’t take genuine, useful criticism and use it to their future advantage, and instead react like Basil Fawlty in a tantrum, then they are in the wrong business.

      I’m all in favour of fair criticism but there’s a line to be drawn – with the right to free speech people should remember there’s a commensurate responsibility to be fair and just.

      I think we have to expect hotels to ask obviously happy guests to post positive reviews – they’d be pretty dumb not to play the system to their benefit. But threatening or offering incentives isn’t on.

  4. Pingback: how to guarantee good online reviews | Paul Wallbank

  5. Pingback: Camelot Castle TripAdvisor Reviews | TripAdvisorWatch: Travel Review Sites in Focus

  6. Gobsmackingly stupid.

    Although, if it were that simple to get a listing removed from TA, we’d all be sending in the most fantastic reviews ever! 😉

    • It’s the first time I’ve seen a “live” warning for absolutely ages. I recall they had a blitz on fakes a couple of years ago but the sight of red warnings splattered all over the site made people think TA couldn’t be trusted. They removed the warnings in due course.

  7. This is so stupid that I can’t believe it. Why send an email?? Why not have a quick-quiet word with staff – over a period of weeks?? We all know of hotels that have some rave reviews and other reviews are the opposite – surely there’s something going on there?
    If hotel management were so stupid as to send that email – they deserve to be ”outed”.

    • Extraordinary, isn’t it? It takes some remarkable naivety to be caught by TripAdvisor’s automated checking systems – they would not have picked up on the scam if the reviewers had different accounts on different computers, did not conspire on wording and did not all post at the same time. Possibly the email was also leaked to TA as it was to RTE.

      Either way, they deserved to be caught – I don’t like fake reviews from owners any more than those from miscreants and troublesome guests with a grudge. Like this one: http://bit.ly/cUcEof

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