Fake online reviews are a problem, but it’s not only consumers who are leaving them. Hoteliers shouldn’t try to deceive potential guests with fake reviews praising their own hotels.
For me, honesty and transparency are important, both personally and professionally. Without them, I have no credibility, because everyone would question the accuracy and objectivity of what I report. The same applies for any ethical journalist.
By extension, I hope the companies I do business with have the same kind of integrity. In our online world now, we rely so much on other people sharing their experiences with different products, services, restaurants and hotels. I never buy a product off Amazon without reading the reviews first. When I had to buy a new washing machine recently, I checked reviews on multiple websites.
Travel review company TripAdvisor is currently on the defensive amid accusations it’s allowing fake reviews of hotels, CNN reports. In fact, the U.K. consumer group making this claim states as many as 1 in 7 reviews could be fake.
Which? Travel reported it looked at nearly 250,000 reviews for the top 10 hotels in 10 global tourist destinations on TripAdvisor, the article states. The group reported 1 in 7 hotels had “blatant hallmarks” of fake reviews. TripAdvisor, naturally, called Which? Travel’s analysis “flawed,” praising its own detection tools for determining fake reviews.
I’m not interested in the back and forth between TripAdvisor and Which? Travel. What concerns me more is the practice of hoteliers writing fake reviews for their own hotels.
In the industry, we generally hear more about people who leave fake bad reviews about different hotels or restaurants because of some vendetta against the place or, for some stupid reason, people think that sort of thing is funny. Obviously, fake bad reviews are a problem because they can hurt a hotel’s reputation and, therefore, its business. Hoteliers at least sometimes have the ability to either have the fake review removed or call it out in a response in hopes that enough people will read the truth.
But consumers don’t have that ability when it comes to weeding out fake positive reviews about hotels. Sure, some consumers might be able to catch on to certain words or phrases that could indicate it is fake on behalf of the hotel, but that’s likely not the majority. Too many people read reviews with the expectation that the author of the review is honest and impartial, but that unfortunately is not always the case.
Fake reviews, negative or positive, do a real disservice to guests. They are lies, pure and simple. They distort what a true experience is like at the hotel. Even if there are accurate facts included in the fake review, it’s still a lie because that experience didn’t actually happen.
They’re also a disservice to everyone working at that hotel. It’s basically saying that you don’t believe enough in your hotel and your employees to give your guests the best experience possible. It’s a desperate move, one that is not going to actually fix any of the problems you might be having at your hotel.
How should the hotel industry handle fake online reviews, both positive and negative? Should the industry do more to discourage hoteliers from trying to boost their own image? Let me know in the comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HHN_Bryan.
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