A recent study made by Which? shows that TripAdvisor could be ruining holidays for travellers through its failure to stop fake reviews that have been repeatedly boosting its top-rated hotels.
Which?, the consumer watchdog, looked at around 250,000 reviews on TripAdvisor’s top ten ranked hotels in ten of the most popular tourist destinations, finding that one in seven of these reviews had “blatant hallmarks” of fake reviews.
The watchdog reported a total of 15 cases to TripAdvisor, with the travel website admitting that 14 of those hotels had already been caught with fake positive reviews during the last year.
Which? also added that six of the hotels were penalised for breaching guidelines, whilst two were given a “red badge” warning for their suspicious activity, yet this is not shown to travellers who are looking for a good place to stay on their travels.
After the investigation by Which?, TripAdvisor has reportedly taken down plenty of reviews, one in particular being a popular hotel in the Middle East, which whilst being rated as the “best hotel” in Jordan, had a pattern of “hugely suspicious” reviews.
Even though the hotel went on to deny that they had tampered with the reviews, TripAdvisor still went ahead and removed a total of 730 of its five-star ratings.
Furthermore, on the page of the “best hotel in Cairo”, 79% of its five-star reviews were made by profiles that had no other contributions on TripAdvisor. Once Which? shared its research with TripAdvisor, the travel site quickly took action, removing the reviews, resulting in the hotel losing its status as Cairo’s best hotel.
This has also been found in western hotel pages, with two of the top ten hotels in Las Vegas having almost half (48% and 41%) of their five-star reviews being made from users that had not made any contributions to TripAdvisor before or even since the contributions were made, thus raising plenty of suspicions that they could indeed be fake.
Which? also compared ten hotels in London from two of the biggest chains, Premier Inn and Travelodge. Premier Inn passed the test by not arousing any sort of suspicion, yet nearly half of the hundreds of five-star reviews for two of the Travelodge hotels came from first-time reviewers that did not leave any other reviews afterwards.
Which? Travel’s Naomi Leach said that “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.”
Mrs Leach also added that TripAdvisor and sites of the same manner need to “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.”
However, a spokesman from TripAdvisor responded by saying that “It is simply 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.”
“We have a dedicated team of fraud investigators who work tirelessly to protect the site from fake reviews.”