Tag Archives: review

Idiots on TripAdvisor

Idiots on TripAdvisor

Further proof that TripAdvisor staff and policies are just as stupid as some of their reviewers.

Here’s a “Terrible” review for “Le Tasting Room Wine Tours” – a company that specialises in taking people on wine tours in the Loire Valley.  http://bit.ly/MroElK

Although TripAdvisor groups this tour company under “wineries” anyone who takes five seconds to read the company description will realise immediately that it is a wine tour company, not a winery or vineyard. “1-3 day Loire wine tours led by experienced English trade professionals.  Discover the diversity of Loire valley wines, visit wineries and vineyards… ”  The classification as a winery is a vagary of TripAdvisor, not the tour company’s fault.

“Le Tasting Room WINE TOURS” – the clue is in the name!


However, this reviewer decided that Le Tasting Room is actually a winery and set off to find out where their “vineyard” was located using a GPS – they didn’t bother trying to telephone or email, just drove around the French countryside looking for a non-existent vineyard.

Then when they couldn’t find a vineyard (surprise, surprise) they wrote a snotty TripAdvisor review in order to ruin an otherwise perfect review record for the hapless tour company.

To make matters even worse, TripAdvisor’s ludicrous response to this when the owner points out the reviewer’s mistake is to say that the review must stand because “The reviewer is entitled to their opinion”.

What a farce.  Can anyone give TripAdvisor an injection of common sense and fairness, please?

Google Places Dumps TripAdvisor Reviews

Google Places Dumps TripAdvisor Reviews – for Better or Worse?

Google has made major changes to the way it presents its Places pages for hotels, B&Bs, restaurants etc.  The focus is now well and truly on Google’s own content, with a big red button for people to add reviews via Google itself. 

Links to third party review sites like TripAdvisor are now tucked away at the foot of the listing (if they appear at all – many don’t) and snippets of their reviews are no longer presented, nor even included in the number of reviews quoted for the Place in question.

New Format Google Places Listing

The Google LatLong blog announced the changes yesterday:

Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we’re continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

So we’ve added the call-to-action “Write a review” button to the top of the Place page to encourage you to tell us what you think about places you’ve visited, while at the same time ensuring that you get personalized recommendations in return when you’re signed in to your Google account.

So TripAdvisor has its wish at last – Google is no longer using its content. But will it live to regret it?

And is Google really providing the best service to its users by dropping all third party content, whatever the disputes and bad feeling between Google, TripAdvisor and Yelp?

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

Mirror.co.uk - 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

Comparecarhire.co.uk - 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 TripAdvisor.com

Mirror.co.uk - 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.

TripAdvisor Reviews – Cash Paid

TripAdvisor Pay-per-Review

Once again, the commercial potential for writing anonymous reviews is under the spotlight.  These invitations to tender to write reviews on TripAdvisor appeared on http://www.freelancer.com/ recently. NB the site in question has done nothing wrong in publishing these adverts.

This follows attempts by an individual to offer his services to hotels as an “insider” able to circumvent TripAdvisor’s checking procedures last October https://tripadvisorwatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/tripadvisor-pay-review-fake/ and a similar request for people to write reviews for money on a different website earlier last year https://tripadvisorwatch.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/hello-world/ .

Not exactly subtle, apart from the one that describes the job as “TripAdvisor SEO” aimed at “increasing rankings on TripAdvisor into the top 3″. Which is done by garnering high-rating reviews, of course. :)

TripAdvisor’s Steve Kaufer tells Google “It’s not fair”

TripAdvisor’s Steve Kaufer tells Google “It’s not fair”

Stephen Kaufer of TripAdvisor admitted this week that discussions have broken down after Google said it would continue to include TripAdvisor’s user-generated reviews of businesses in its Google’s Place pages. 

It is unclear in this dispute which one is the pot and which the kettle, but both are clearly black.

Mr. Kaufer said Google told him that if he didn’t like TripAdvisor reviews appearing on Google, TripAdvisor could tweak its site so that reviews would be invisible to the search engine

But Mr Kaufer said blocking Google from seeing the reviews would not only remove them from Hotpot and Place pages but would also hurt his site’s ability to appear in normal search results. Google is a significant source of traffic for TripAdvisor. “I don’t feel like it’s fair to force me to provide information to site that’s trying to compete with me,” he said.   TripAdvisor accepts no responsibility for review content, but does claim ownership of the same.

In response, Google claims it “built Google for users, not websites, and our goal is to give users answers …  Each day we send millions of customer referrals to local businesses and third party websites, such as review sites, through local search.  The overwhelming feedback we get from users, business owners and website owners is that they value the answers and traffic they receive from local search.”

So there you have it. On one side, Mr Kaufer wants Google to cache his site’s page content to improve its position in search results, but not to display that same content on Google Maps/Places.  On the other, Google wants to use TripAdvisor reviews to make its Places content more attractive to users, in anticipation of future developments when it hopes to have its own online booking system linked to Places. 

It is unclear in this dispute which one is the pot and which the kettle, but both are clearly black.

Reviews Tug-of-War – Does it Matter?

Reviews Tug-of-War – Does it Matter?

IN THE REVIEWS TUG-OF-WAR with Google Places, TripAdvisor seems to have gained the upper hand – at least for the moment.

Prompted by a comment on an earlier post,  I checked my benchmark ‘Paris hotels’ and ‘London hotels’ searches on Google Places/Maps and the TA reviews have largely disappeared once again, following a couple of weeks where all reviews had been shown.

There are individual exceptions (3 out of 10 London hotels on Places show TripAdvisor reviews), proving that the ban still isn’t watertight and that Google hasn’t given up the fight.

Our own listing is still showing TA reviews on Places – but that could change again tomorrow, and the uncertainty will continue until Google and TripAdvisor come to some sort of agreement or one throws in the towel.

Some may not care whether there are TA reviews on Places or not, but some potential customers may be drawn to a hotel with lots of reviews showing, so the current TA review lottery can’t be ignored completely.

What about you – are you bothered whether Google Places shows TripAdvisor listings, either as an owner or as a user?

TA Reviews on Google Places – January 14th 2011

Google Beats TripAdvisor Block on Reviews

Has Google Beaten TripAdvisor Embargo on Reviews?

I recently remarked that Google Places/Maps results were once more showing TripAdvisor Reviews in full, and as far as I’ve been able to ascertain that continues to be the case (owners/managers – check your property and let me know if yours doesn’t!).

Kevin at TNooz took this up and asked TripAdvisor if they’d changed their policy towards Places; a TA spokesperson insisted that the block on streaming reviews remains in place (no pun intended!).  They are sticking by what they said in December 2010, that the restriction continues and TripAdvisor does not believe users “benefit with the experience of selecting the right hotel” if Google Places streams its reviews.  TripAdvisor is in “constant discussions with Google”, according to the same source.

However, searches on Google Maps/Places today prove that TripAdvisor reviews appear on critical on Google Places results, such as ‘london hotels’ and ‘paris hotels’, which suggests that the block on streaming has more holes in it than a sieve.

TA Reviews still on Google Places – January 14th 2011

At this stage in the game it seems that Google has found a new way around the TripAdvisor embargo, and TripAdvisor has not yet found an effective defence.

TripAdvisor Back on Google Places

TripAdvisor Back on Google Places

Shortly before Christmas, TripAdvisor confirmed that its block on the use of their reviews by Google was continuing, despite media reports and rumours to the contrary.   A TripAdvisor spokesperson said in a statement to TNooz on December 14th last year:

Despite the rumours, we are continuing to restrict TripAdvisor content on Google Places as we don’t think it benefits users at this time with the experience of selecting the right hotel.

This confirmed our own findings and refuted some premature reports around that time that the dispute had been settled.

Searching Google at that time for “London hotels” and for “Paris Hotels” proved  that most hotels still had no TripAdvisor reviews on Google Places, with only two out of the top ten hotels showing any reviews in both search results.

However, the same searches on Google this week reveal that TripAdvisor reviews are back in full on Google Places results, although there has been no public announcement by either party that their dispute over the use of TripAdvisor reviews is actually settled.

TA Reviews back on Google Places - January 8th 2011

At present, and until a formal statement is issued by TripAdvisor, it is not possible to say whether this is because they have reached an amicable settlement, or Google has found a way around the TripAdvisor embargo, which was never 100% successful in any case, or because TripAdvisor has backed down over the issue.

Duncan Bannatyne: We must take a stand against TripAdvisor hosting untrue reviews

Duncan Bannatyne: We must take a stand against TripAdvisor hosting untrue reviews

Hotel owner and Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne writes in this week’s Caterer about online hotel reviews. This follows the publication on TripAdvisor of false claims and factual inaccuracies in a review concerning his four-star Charlton House Spa hotel in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.  Mr Bannatyne has earlier expressed his disgust at the way that TripAdvisor deals with malicious reviews in  Caterer in December.

Charlton House Spa Hotel

Mr Bannatyne, who owns four hotels, says he has no issue with reviews that give a guest’s opinion about a hotel, but he claims TripAdvisor was obstructing his right to reply to factual inaccuracies.

In the latest article Mr Bannatyne says:

There are very few places where members of the public can post such damaging allegations and, as a recent victim of a rogue review, I am well placed to lead the campaign for more protection against the perils of TripAdvisor.

Let me say at this point that I have no problem with honest reviews and, even if they are less than positive, always welcome the opinions of customers with constructive feedback. My chain of hotels would soon be out of business if we didn’t listen to and act on these reviews.

However, there seems to be no mechanism to prevent untrue reviews being posted in a moment of spite or twisted amusement.

He adds:

If negative reviews are fair and reasoned, we owners cannot complain. We live and die by the quality of our service and, if it is not up to scratch, some timely home truths could be the jolt needed to make wholesale improvements. It is only when the negative reviews are untrue that we are left completely exposed and powerless to fight back.

Read more online at Caterersearch.com logo

Duncan Bannatyne speaks out over TripAdvisor negative review threats – 12/15/2010 – Caterer Search

Hoteliers support Bannatyne campaign against TripAdvisor – 1/5/2011 – Caterer Search

Duncan Bannatyne: We must take a stand against TripAdvisor hosting untrue reviews – 1/5/2011 – Caterer Search

TripAdvisor Confirms Google Places Blockade Continues

TripAdvisor Confirms Google Places Blockade Continues

TripAdvisor has confirmed what I suggested a few days ago – that despite reports to the contrary, its block on reviews being displayed in Google Places remains intact.

Rumours started circulating a few days ago that TripAdvisor and Google had reached a settlement, but this always seemed to me to be based on anecdotal evidence, with no systematic return to normal service.

Now TripAdvisor confirms the restriction remains. A TripAdvisor spokesperson said in a statement to TNooz:

Despite the rumours, we are continuing to restrict TripAdvisor content on Google Places as we don’t think it benefits users at this time with the experience of selecting the right hotel.

The blockade could well be TripAdvisor’s response to recent changes to Google which mean that it often displays links to its own local business information, Google Places, above the links to other, non-Google content found by its search engine.  Even before this move, TripAdvisor had reported a 10% drop in traffic from Google.

The FairSearch group, of which TripAdvisor is a member, is also lobbying hard against the Google acquisition of ITA Software, which will open the way for Google to take bookings online and threaten the dominance of TripAdvisor and its parent Expedia in the online travel booking market.

Read more:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704058704576015630188568972.html

http://www.tnooz.com/2010/07/01/news/google-agrees-to-buy-ita-software-for-700m-in-cash/