Cove Hotel “Bribery” and TripAdvisor “Blacklists”

Cove Hotel “Bribery” and TripAdvisor “Blacklists”

Once again TripAdvisor is in the headlines for fake reviews – this time a hotel in Cornwall, England is accused of bribing customers to post positive reviews.

The Cove Hotel Cornwall flatly denies any bribery* (see end of article) saying it had no motivation to “pimp” its reviews as it was already highly placed and that the incentive was to reward loyal customers.  

One thing is certain – there’s nothing new or remarkable about fake and fixed reviews on TripAdvisor.  This blog has exposed dirty dealings around TripAdvisor reviews several occasions and I was going to let this one pass – until I noticed a curious statement in several articles concerning TripAdvisor and “blacklists”. 

“Blacklist” Facts Wrong

Several articles (see foot of page for links to articles) claim that “TripAdvisor has already blacklisted 30 properties worldwide for suspicious reviews”. 

“Just 30 properties”, I thought? “That can’t be correct! I’m sure it’s more.”

  • First of all, TA doesn’t have a “blacklist”, which suggests it bans properties  from its site.  Rather it “red flags” properties which it suspects have rigged reviews, printing a warning next to them
  • Secondly, I checked back to an article on this blog in November 2010 and at that time 280 hotels etc. were “red flagged” by TripAdvisor.

So had TripAdvisor has removed 250 “red flags” since 2010, leaving only 30? 

TripAdvisor Red Flags

A Google search of the TripAdvisor site seems to show there are now as many as 13,500 properties “red flagged” however, clicking through the pages it actually stops at 270 (what’s going on, Google?).

On top of these properties, it is highly probable that many more underhand owners and managers get away with faking reviews and are never caught – it is hard to believe that TA catches the majority, as anyone with a basic grasp of internet protocol can overcome their checking procedures. 

Due to its dominance, there is a growing incentive for the unscrupulous to rig TA reviews and ratings for their own and competitor businesses, or for the malicious to do damage through fake or unwarranted reviews.

Meanwhile TA continues to buy out anyone it sees as potential threat – the latest is “Where I’ve Been“. 

A virtual monopoly like this is not healthy – the travel review market needs competition if it is to have any credibility.


The Cove Hotel Denies Accusations of Bribery

–  a spokesperson for the hotel says:

This is a perfect example of the media trying to create a story from nothing. It should be clearly stated that our hotel has received countless rave reviews from recognised publications such as The Times who recently voted us No 5 in their top 20 British Rooms, The Guardian in their Top 10 Hotels of the Decade, The Telegraph and countless other national publications.

It should also be duly noted that The Cove Cornwall received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor on May 27th, nearly one month prior to the set up of their Friends of The Cove Scheme. Why then should be have been in need of “bribing” customers to post positive reviews on their site? It simply makes no sense!

The press are forever themselves creating “incentives” for their readers to endorse their name and products to increase their customer reach. All we were trying to achieve, was to thank our loyal return customers, Brand Champions, in a tangible manner.

Also, the quoted statement made by the owner Lee Magner, used by both The Sunday Mirror & The Daily Mail, is inaccurate. We would very much like to see this problem resolved and are more than happy to respond to any and all queries.

Links to related articles 

Tripadvisor bribes: Hotel owners offer free rooms in return for glowing reviews

Daily Mail – Colin Fernandez – ‎Jul 11, 2011‎
As the world’s most influential hotel review website, TripAdvisor’s impact on the travel industry has long been clear. A good review can make or break a hotel. So perhaps it’s not surprising that hotels in Britain and abroad are

Punishments hotels abusing TripAdvisor face – Lucy Lawler – ‎Jul 9, 2011‎
HOTELS which are deemed to have misused TripAdvisor can be penalised in a variety of ways. THE website claims it has automated systems in place to spot fraud – and that its 40million users

TripAdvisor warns hotels over fake reviews – Wes Lane – ‎Jul 11, 2011‎
Hotels are being warned by TripAdvisor that they risk being blacklisted if they are found to be offering incentives or bribes to visitors in return for a glowing review on the website. TripAdvisor currently has 45 million

TripAdvisor Scandal: Are Reviewers Being Reimbursed?

AOL Travel News – ‎Jul 11, 2011‎
The content of the travel review site TripAdvisor is under scrutiny days after it came to light that several hotels were reimbursing visitors for positive reviews. According to the Daily Mail, the website’s administrators are looking into whether or

Hotels ‘bribe guests for online reviews’ on Tripadvisor website with free

Daily Mail – Colin Fernandez – ‎Jul 10, 2011‎
Hotels in Britain and abroad are bribing guests to write glowing reviews on the TripAdvisor website in exchange for cash or cut-price rooms and meals. The website, which has 45million reviews of more than 500000 destinations,

Cornwall hotel bribes guests to write good reviews on – Ben Griffiths, Lucy Lawler – ‎Jul 9, 2011‎
A British hotel is bribing guests to write positive reviews on the TripAdvisor website in exchange for discounted rooms and cut-price meals. Customers at The Cove in Cornwall are offered

TripAdvisor takes action against fake reviews

Travolution – Brad Girtz – ‎Jul 11, 2011‎
Hotels trying to bribe users to raise their TripAdvisor rankings have been put on notice by the travel review site. The company has already blacklisted 30 properties worldwide for suspicious reviews and they are looking into the actions of another.

2 responses to “Cove Hotel “Bribery” and TripAdvisor “Blacklists”

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