Hospitality operators call for more control over TripAdvisor reviews


Hospitality operators call for more control over TripAdvisor reviews

Hospitality operators call for more control over TripAdvisor reviews

Discussions on how to reduce the number of fraudulent and defamatory reviews appearing on TripAdvisor sparked up again this week, when Michelin-starred restaurateur David Moore described TripAdvisor as a 'monster spiralling out of control' to the Daily Mail, and argued that the website has become 'a powerful weapon, with no real structure in place to police it.'

Moore urged the site to initiate a system that would support business owners who are adversely affected by users posting fake and damaging reviews, suggesting that all reviewers should be required to upload a receipt with their comment, to prove that they dined at the restaurant in question.

It's an increasingly popular idea; last year the #noreceiptnoreview campaign gathered support from several well-known names in the hospitality industry, including Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner, food writer Andy Hayler, and anonymous food inspector TomEats.

Similarly, Anton Piotrowski, chef-patron of a Michelin-starred pub, suggested making reviewers sign in via a social media account, so people can be identified and held accountable for their words. He commented on his own experiences of competitors posting slanderous reviews about his business on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor has rejected the call for proof of purchase with reviews. Their spokesperson, Hayley Coleman, reasoned that 'if four friends go out to dinner there will be four different opinions but under a verified model only the one person with the receipt would be able to leave a review.' TripAdvisor believes, she said, 'that every experience counts, not just the experience of the person who paid the bill... if we required people to submit a receipt, then a lot of people who have had a genuine customer interaction wouldn't have a voice, and that goes against what we stand for.'

TripAdvisor has also argued that the most common fraudulent reviews are from 'property boosting', when hospitality operators leave themselves good reviews, not from fake guests leaving critical ones. It was also pointed out that it's restaurant owners who have the benefit of 'the last word with the management response tool, which allows them to respond to each review on site'.

Whether you support receipts with reviews or not, there are undeniable problems with TripAdvisor's current model. Fake reviews, both positive and negative, are at the detriment to both businesses and their guests. Restaurants gain undeserved bad reputations and lose visitors, and guests are unable to trust the information and rankings they are given. In the interests of protecting both groups, hospitality operators and TripAdvisor will need to work together to establish a stronger system of fraud prevention.

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