Friday, 2 September 2011

TripAdvisor....Tastes better when taken with a pinch of salt....



There are so many articles, new reports and bad press surrounding TripAdvisor these days. Yet up until 6 months ago a lot of people wouldn’t ever have considered staying at a hotel before reading reviews left on the infamous site. You might find 30 or even 500 reviews left over a period of a couple of years and more. All a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Still I can quite confidently say that those hotels would have seen many more guests passing through their doors, sleeping in their beds and enjoying their breakfasts and dinners who did not leave a review and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

A few months ago hoteliers finally found their voice and have brought and continue to bring to the public and presses attention that actually Trip Advisor has no way of verifying that those people leaving reviews have ever stayed in the hotel they are commenting on at all. In fact the chances are that a good handful have had a disappointing stay, the other handful are competitors who want to do damage to their rivals or just simply vindictive people posting a negative comment purely for their own satisfaction (a disgruntled member of staff perhaps). Needless to say some of the positive reviews may well have been posted by staff members, family members or friends, however the majority will probably be good honest reviews.

The point is people are finally starting to see it for what it is and what hoteliers have always known it to be but have muddled through because nobody seemed to be able to shout loudly enough about it...until recently.

Companies such as Booking.com and Laterooms.com have however got it right. They can and do have the ability to post reviews, as you can only do so if you have stayed in that hotel and booked your stay via the aforementioned websites, this is the proof the stay actually took place and means the reviews are from true customers.

More recently it has just been announced that the ASA has launched a formal investigation into TripAdvisor after receiving a complaint from a company called KwickChex.com. A Bournemouth based company that helps others manage their online reputations. They have been pursuing TripAdvisor since last year over what it claims are numerous misleading, fake and defamatory reviews posted about restaurants, hotels and bed & breakfasts. With the likes of Dragons Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne backing the campaign, this is certainly one investigation to keep your eye on!

I think the point I want to make is this. TripAdvisor, love it or hate it has been part of the holiday makers booking process for many years, and yet should never be taken too seriously. We as a nation much prefer to grumble and moan after the occurrence than speak up at the time, this bad feeling then festers and those who don't perhaps want a resolution will complain to Trip Advisor and such like. Those who are serious will contact the hotel and voice their concerns at the time or write a letter once back at home, giving the hotel a serious chance to rectify any fault or make amends, hopefully to the customers satisfaction.

A warning to those who read reviews, remember if the site can not guarantee these reviews are genuine, don't let it effect your own judgement too much.
I hope TripAdvisor can find away of verifying that past and new reviews are genuine. I also hope that since reading this and hearing about it in the press, those of you who have shunned hotels in the past due to a bad Trip Advisor review might reconsider visiting them. We don't bite. We are open to the public. We are here to serve you. Pop in and and see us, ask for a look around, and make up your own mind.

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