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Sunday 8 September 2019

Consumer advocates slam TripAdvisor

Do you believe all the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor? Leading consumer organisation Which? says you should be very wary.

TripAdvisor is failing to stop fake reviews boosting the rankings of top-rated hotels, Which? reported. 
The consumer organisation analysed almost 250,000 reviews for the 10 top-ranked hotels in 10 popular tourist destinations around the world, finding one in seven had “blatant hallmarks” of fake reviews. 

Which? reported 15 cases to TripAdvisor and claimed that the site admitted 14 of the hotels had already been caught with fake positive reviews in the last year. 

It said TripAdvisor revealed that six of these hotels had been penalised for breaking guidelines and two had previously been given a “red badge” warning for suspicious activity, but this was not made clear to travellers.

Which? said TripAdvisor had taken down hundreds of reviews following its investigation. One hotel in the Middle East, rated as the “best hotel” in Jordan, had a “hugely suspicious” pattern of reviews, Which? reported, adding that the unnamed hotel denied any wrongdoing but TripAdvisor had subsequently removed 730 of its five-star ratings.

There were several other examples provided. 

In Las Vegas, two of the 10 highest-ranked hotels received almost half (48% and 41% respectively) of their hundreds of five-star ratings from first-time reviewers who had never made any other TripAdvisor contributions before or since, raising suspicions that they could be fake, Which? said.

Which? Travel’s Naomi Leach said: “TripAdvisor’s failure to stop fake reviews and take strong action against hotels that abuse the system risks misleading millions of travellers and potentially ruining their holidays.

"Sites like TripAdvisor must do more to ensure the information on their platforms is reliable, and if they continue to fall short they should be compelled to make changes so holidaymakers are no longer at risk of being duped by a flood of fake reviews.”

A TripAdvisor spokesman said: “It is far too simplistic to assume all first-time reviewers are suspicious. Every genuine reviewer in the world is at some point a first-time reviewer. Accurate fraud detection requires analysis of a wide range of data points, such as IP information, location data or details about the device an account was using when submitting a review. This crucial data is missing from Which’s analysis."

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