TripAdvisor U-Turn Over Ratings System

Controversy over Rating System Leaves TripAdvisor Red-Faced Again

TripAdvisor has put its foot in it again with a new rating system that allows people to rate hotels and restaurants without even leaving a review.  Anyone with a Facebook account or a TripAdvisor account can rate dozens of places they have never visited in seconds.

TripAdvisor’s New Ratings System

The latest controversy follows hot on the heels of a reprimand from the Advertising Standards Authority which forced TripAdvisor to remove misleading claims that its reviews are posted by real people – TripAdvisor had to admit that it could not tell how many of its reviews were fake.

It is clear that things have gone from bad to worse, with some users using the new “easy-peasy” rating system mischievously – or maliciously – to post hundreds of ratings for places they had never visited.  The new ratings were even more deeply flawed than the review system, since owners were left without any specific review comments to know what the reason was for a rating and without any right of reply.

For example, Tnooz found that Will83 had contributed only three “regular” reviews since January 2008, but suddenly almost 560 ratings appeared under this profile in a matter of days – the biggest influx of new ratings by the user appearing on Christmas Day 2011.  Perhaps too much Christmas booze and bored with the telly?

Not surprisingly, hotels and restaurants have been in uproar over the new ratings.  On TripAdvisor’s public forum over 240 messages of protest have been registered in a few days.  On the Owners’ forum, hidden from and not accessible to the public, the fury has been even greater.

Under this barrage of criticism, the review giant today finally caved in dropped the new ratings without explanation.

Richard Bradford, owner of Porters English restaurant and the Covent Garden Grill, said of the latest controversy: “At least with reviews you knew where they were coming from and what the problem was, and you could respond.

“Now with these ratings there is nothing you can do. There seems to be a vastly higher percentage of poor and terrible ones for Porters and these will completely distort our ratings for TripAdvisor.”

A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor initially defended the change, saying that the ratings were coming from TripAdvisor and Facebook members about whom TripAdvisor had profile information.

“The recently highlighted ratings provide yet another source of insight from which travellers can make an educated decision when planning their trips,” she claimed. “Ratings enable travellers to rate accommodation properties, restaurants and attractions with a simple overall score out of five. This contribution option allows travellers to quickly rate hospitality businesses to compliment standard reviews, giving users another source of insight when planning their trips.”


8 responses to “TripAdvisor U-Turn Over Ratings System

  1. Phil – it looks like the ‘instant’ rating system “rate these places you may have been to” is back in action….. I have just been invited to rate a whole host of places within about a 50 mile radius of where I live, with no necessity to substantiate whether I’ve actually been there or not!

  2. I have started a yahoo group called tripadvisorsucks. I would encourage as many people as possible go there and post that TA sucks and try to get it into the number one google spot when people search for tripadvisor.

  3. Briony Chalson

    Can anyone help? I have had a really libellous review posted on Trip Advisor recently and two other really bad ones which came from people who had travelled several months before. All of these people were senior reviewers with Trip Advisor and they all seemed to arrive within a few weeks of one another, but referring to tours they had taken with me several months before. The reviews were so damning and personal that I asked myself that if I was that upset, would I not have posted a review upon returning home from the holiday. It seems that Trip Advisor has a current campaign to encourage people to write more reviews, do they get something in return? I am severely depressed at the moment and my small tour business that I worked so hard to build up, is disintegrating.before my eyes. Lots of tour requests but few responses to my emails, obviously they have checked out the TA site meanwhile. This is in direct contrast to previous years. The last terrible review called me ‘dishevelled’ and looking like I had just got out of bed, (I am a guide) but that day I had a breakfast meeting before the tour and had taken particular care of my appearance.

    I tried to sort things out a little by paying a large fee to a reputation management company but I think I poured it down a dark hole as nothing much has come from the fee I paid them. Before even doing anything, they asked for more money to upgrade! I feel powerless at the moment but I am trying to carry on as best I can in the hope that some clients will write enough decent reviews to bury the others.

  4. A report that was posted on Tripadvisor mentioning the electrocution of a tourist at a hotel in Phuket Thailand, the Hillside Dewa Karon Resort, has been deleted. I’d have thought that the risk of electrocution was an important consideration to travellers. Tripadvisor don’t think so, it seems.
    The review rated service 0/5 and sleep at 5/5.
    story here –

    • If it was a review then it would be in violation of TA’s rules that say you can’t report third party experiences and hearsay – only the family concerned would be allowed to post about the incident.

      There was another case of a hotel where a robbery and murder took place and the hotel became the target for dozens of reviews from people who had read about it in the papers etc. but who had never even stayed there. These were systematically removed (as is right).

  5. I am an employee at a privately owned hotel for many years, and am now a victim of a malicious and vindictive review left on trip adviser by an other ex employee! The review is a PERSONAL attack and very clearly from no previous guests! My employer had reported it to trip adviser but nothing has been done, so the review is still up there.

  6. The fact TA thinks that a ‘profile’ of a ‘member’ of FB or TA means that they are a real person, and that TA thinks their latest ‘ratings system’ was worth the time and money to create, tells us all we need to know about how TA treats with contempt any notion of truth, reality or fairness.
    Now they don’t have Expedia to guide and mentor them, TA are floundering in the real world . . .

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