Hotels bribing guests for TripAdvisor reviews

Hotel News - 11/07/2011

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Hotels have been bribing guests to get them write positive reviews on the travel website TripAdvisor, according to reports. The allegations claim that hotels both in the UK and abroad have been offering guests discount rooms, meals and cash in return for good reviews on the online travel website.

The TripAdvisor site contains some 45 million reviews by visitors on more than 500,000 destinations. The site is a popular online resource for large numbers of travellers keen to check up on the opinions of other holidaymakers.

Some 30 properties located around the world have already been blacklisted over suspicious reviews. There is thought to be a strong blackmarket amongst hotels who are happy to pay people to produce positive reviews for the site.

Britain’s Office of Fair Trading said it would carry out an investigation if it thought any rules had been breached. Cornwall’s Cove Hotel could face a probe over claims it broke the site’s guidelines regarding reviews.

Located at Lamorna Cove, near Penzance, guests staying at the hotel received letters from the hotel’s owner. Lee Magner’s letter suggested guests join the ‘Friends of the Cove’ programme.

In return, Mr Magner offers guests a 10-per-cent discount on food and drinks at the Fireside Restaurant in the hotel. He also offers free apartment upgrades.

Guests joining the scheme are expected to act as ‘brand champions’. They must post their ‘honest but positive’ opinions about the hotel on the TripAdvisor web site.

Guests can also receive the incentives if they recommend the Cove Hotel to two of the world’s top restaurant guides – the Michelin Guide and the Good Food Guide. TripAdvisor says that while hotels are welcome to ask guests to submit reviews, any attempts to manipulate the system are taken very seriously.

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