From Our Swindon Correspondent – the place where all hotels are 5*:
Up to fifty per cent of five star reviews for some of the highest-ranking hotels on TripAdvisor are “suspicious”, a Which? investigation has found. The consumer watchdog has criticised TripAdvisor for failing to stop luxury hotels being boosted by fake reviews which can mislead travellers and ruin holidays. The latest investigation by Which? Travel analysed almost 250,000 reviews for the top 10 ranked hotels in 10 popular tourist destinations around the world, finding that one in seven of these 100 hotels had reviews which carried the hallmarks of fake reviews, while others raised serious concerns.
That doesn’t really matter.
Basil Fawlty pays some dodgy company to write reviews of his hotel in Torquay(“lovely view of herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically”) to counter the tales of goosestepping through the dining room, waiters being assaulted and rats, by doing one in 7 reviews, his score of 1 rises to 2.2. It makes things better, but it doesn’t make a huge difference. People chalk it up to a bad day, personal preferences. You go somewhere and think it’s a 5 when everyone else thinks it’s a 4, or vice versa, it really doesn’t matter.
The internet era has seen the demise of many data sources. Yellow Pages is almost dead. You want a plasterer, you ask for advice on your local Facebook group. Movie star salaries have declined because people get opinions from Rotten Tomatoes and Twitter rather than trusting in the star as an indicator of quality. Many gamers have switched to Steam to find out if a game is any good, because video game magazines are corrupt and often give reviews based on how much companies spend on ads. TripAdvisor is the same. We stopped buying hotel guide books (like Which’s Good Hotel Guide) because it was just as good. Sure, it’s being manipulated to around 16%, and it introduces inaccuracy, but how accurate was a hotel guide based on 1 or 2 visits per year? How average was that visit? They could have gone on a bad day, or a lucky day. And it doesn’t matter if the accuracy is based on fraud or time.
TripAdvisor could do something about this. Of course, they say they’ll take things seriously, but it really isn’t important to them. It’s expensive to find these crooked reviews and while people trust their reviews enough that they don’t go elsewhere, why spend the money?