Which? Suggests TripAdvisor 'Fake Reviews' Are Lifting Hotel Rankings
UK watchdog Which? Travel has suggested that some of the highest-ranked hotels on TripAdvisor reached the top by using fake reviews.
The group said that it analysed almost 250,000 hotel reviews on the site, looking at the top tens for tourist destinations around the world.
The group said that it reported 15 cases to TripAdvisor, who admitted that 93% of the reported hotels had been caught with dodgy reviews in the past year.
TripAdvisor has been penalising hotels for breaking its guidelines, revoking five-star reviews and giving warnings known as "red badge" warnings for suspicious activity.
The group contacted TripAdvisor, which revealed that Travelodge Wembley was such an example, with the badge's purpose being to warn travellers that it was investigating possible manipulation of reviews by "individuals or entities associated with this property".
However, Which? Travel revealed that when it looked at the hotels in question, none had any warning, and both red badges had been removed.
"Potential guests would have had no idea that anybody had been trying to cheat the system," Which? Travel suggested. "One of the hotels we looked at, the then 'best hotel in Jordan', had 730 five-star reviews removed by TripAdvisor shortly after we contacted it to point out that they looked suspicious."
However, TripAdvisor defended its method, adding that the analysis presented by Which? "is based on a flawed understanding of fake review patterns and is reliant on too many assumptions, and too little data."
TripAdvisor said, "We have an industry-leading team of fraud investigators who work tirelessly to protect the site from fake reviews. We are confident our approach works, and is one of the reasons we continue to retain the trust of many millions of consumers worldwide."
© 2019 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Aidan O'Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.