TripAdvisor promises more visibility for villages – maybe?

TripAdvisor changes give more visibility for villages – or do they?

The Tripadvisor4Biz blog recently said that businesses in small villages that are related to nearby towns can also appear under the town, if they can provide proof that the village is recognised as part of the municipality.

http://tripadvisor4biz.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/more-visibility-for-villages-in-tripadvisor-search-results/#comment-376

Where a small village is commonly recognized as belonging to a larger municipality with a distinct name, the businesses in that small village may appear in search results for both (a) the small village and (b) the larger municipality.

If your business is located in a small town or village that belongs to a larger, better known city or municipality, you may contact TripAdvisor through your Management Center to request that we update your location to reflect this. You must provide TripAdvisor with proof of location: a copy of your business license or tax bill, or a link to a page on your local tourist board’s website that recognizes your smaller location as part of the larger location.

However, the person dealing with locations at TA appeared unaware of this when I contacted TripAdvisor via our Management Centre with the proof outlined in the blog.  Instead of accepting or explaining why our request was refused, she gave the same old reply about listings having to appear under their exact location.

Hello,

Thank you for contacting TripAdvisor.

In order to provide the most accurate information possible to travelers, we strive to list all of our accommodations, restaurants and attractions in the actual physical footprint, so we cannot move any listings to a different town than where they are physically located.

Additionally, it is our policy to place a listing in the most specific destination possible.

As your property is not actually located in Alencon, I’m sorry but we can’t place your listing there.

You can read more about our location policy here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/i_am_listed_in_an_small_town_can_i_be_moved_to_the_listings_of_a_nearby_more_well_known_city

Our managers have been working on ways to better show “nearby” accommodations.  A recent implementation shows “Recommended nearby hotels and B&Bs” when a location has fewer than 10 hotels or B&Bs.

Example:  There is one hotel and one B&B listed in Holywell, Wales.  http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g609080-Holywell_Flintshire_North_Wales_Wales-Hotels.html#T_CAT_HOTEL_MOTEL

Beneath those listings you’ll now see a map, then “Recommended nearby hotels and B&Bs”, which include listings in the surrounding area.  There is also now a “Nearby Cities” selector at the top of the page so that users can select specific nearby locations from a list (Axton, Caerwys, Carmel, etc.)

Additional features are being considered for possible future implementation.

Best regards,

Jeannine

TripAdvisor Listing Support

I replied to her message two days ago asking for clarification about the change announced on the blog and once more including both our business certificate for the town concerned and links showing that rentals and B&Bs in our village are included under the town Tourist Office website, but got no reply.

I’ve also posted a comment on the TripAdvisor4Biz blog to ask for clarification and got no reply.

I’ve also posted on TA’s Facebook Page and got no reply.

It may be that this particular request was refused for legitimate reasons not explained in the blog article – because the proofs were inadequate or because the village/town relationship failed some other criteria – but in that case could not someone at TripAdvisor explain and why did the person dealing appear ignorant of the changes?

TripAdvisor on Facebook

TripAdvisor on Facebook

Despite not really caring about the great, unwashed travelling public and not wanting to interact with them, TripAdvisor has thrust its fat corporate finger into “social media” via Twitter and Facebook and posts a never-ending stream of pictures inviting comments.  And of course, it gets replies in their hundreds, mostly from morons who don’t realise that nobody at TripAdvisor is ever going to read or react to what they post.

However, there is an upside to TripAdvisor’s transparently non-social use of Facebook and patent lack of engagement.

Occasionally they post a picture which allows us to have a little fun at TripAdvisor’s expense, knowing that they’ll never read it.  Here’s one recent example:

Having Fun with TripAdvisor on Facebook

#Google Places – Anonymous Review Abuse

Google Places Review Abuse

As TripAdvisor is the dominant ratings sytem for hotels and restaurants etc., I make no excuses for concentrating this blog on that website.

However, anyone in the travel and lodging business with a listing on Google Places should not have failed to notice that the search engine giant also has its own ratings system.  Normally some competition for TripAdvisor might be regarded as a “good thing” to encourage improvement – but unfortunately that is not the case here.

The Google system is woefully inadequate, with nothing to stop anyone from posting hundreds of fake reviews in a single day if they want to.  And I am not exaggerating.  Here is one example that came to my attention simply because my own Places listing was one of those reviewed by this anonymous reviewer – one of over 900 Google Places reviews this individual made in one day in June 2011!  http://bit.ly/KSYlSo

Google says its “mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.  Then Google should do something about abuses like this if it wants its fledgling review system to be taken even remotely seriously.

And “Anonyme” needs a good kick up the arse.

Google Places Fake Ratings

Google Places Fake Ratings

Controversial Quicky Ratings Reinstated by TripAdvisor

Controversial Rating System Reinstated by TripAdvisor

Back at the beginning of March I reported that TripAdvisor had withdrawn a controversial “quicky” rating system that allowed people to rate hotels and restaurants without leaving a review or a comment.  This made it easier for anyone to rate dozens of places they had never visited in seconds just by clicking a list of suggested places.

TripAdvisor’s Controversial “one click” Ratings System

As an example of the abuse this encouraged, 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.

On TripAdvisor’s public forum over hundreds of messages of protest were made in a few days.  On the Owners’ forum, hidden from and not accessible to the public, the furore was even greater.

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

I’m sorry to report that TripAdvisor has now reinstated the “quicky” ratings.

TripAdvisor Appoints Head of Fraud

Andrew Marane. "Content Integrity" will stop short of verifying facts or whether people have used the places they review.

In an attempt to stem the continuing problem of “fraudulent reviews”, Mr. Andrew Marane has been appointed new “Director of Content Integrity” on TripAdvisor.

Ex-Navy, Marane worked in law enforcement where in the latter part of his career he worked on organized fraud investigations. He then moved on to the insurance industry before his last move to eCommerce and financial markets.

Marane says of his role in TripAdvisor, “People who try to affect the quality on TripAdvisor never stop thinking of new ways to improve their attempts, so we should continue to improve, also.”

It is revealing that TripAdvisor consistently uses the term “fraudulent” rather than “fake” reviews, suggesting that it is more intent on catching owners trying to game the system rather than malicious guests.

In announcing Marane’s appointment TripAdvisor does not mention any plans to verify that reviewers have used the restaurants and hotels that they review, nor to fact-check the veracity of reviews.   Until such measures are taken, the use of marketing phrases like “Real reviews by real people” will continue to be forbidden in the UK market despite its use in the article introducing Marane.

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.”

Tnooz uncovers “TripAdvisor Select” scam


Yesterday Kevin May and Tnooz published an article revealing a scam whereby properties have been contacted by someone claiming to be the new “director of traveler reviews at TripAdvisor”, whose email says the company is launching a programme known as “TripAdvisor Select”.

The mailer says that TripAdvisor is looking into ways of giving some hotels on the site with the best reviews an official badge of approval, to say that the property has been audited for high quality by TripAdvisor itself following a visit.

Hotels getting the official thumbs-up from TripAdvisor would be rewarded with a “TripAdvisor Select” logo on their listing and, most importantly, having this official approval would prevent users from leaving negative reviews about a property!

Naturally it’s a scam and the mailer has nothing to do with TripAdvisor, despite   the mailer signing off with the address of the company Massachusetts headquarters in the USA.