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.