I read with great interest the number of travel portals that proclaim TripAdvisor as THE place to look for reviews on hotels, restaurants, tour companies and other travel related aspects that can be reviewed. However, ever more prominent are the reports of false reports and reviews, especially for hotels. Remember the Lonely Planet scandal where one entire tour book was written by an author who had never set foot in the country? It seems that TripAdvisor for all of their fail safe methods of trying to prevent dishonest embedded reviews are falling short.
This is just one example of the many concerns that have arisen with planted underhanded negative reviews and superlative praise that I have read about in the last six months. This one in particular is from the latest edition of Budget Travel online. The title of the article is Confessions of… a Rome Tour Guide. I quote
“Your tour company is “top-rated”? Ha! A high TripAdvisor ranking translates into fat profits, and tour companies will do almost anything for glowing reviews—besides run great tours. The first company I worked for pressured its employees to solicit raves from its customers. Guides who were frequently praised by name were rewarded with better pay, but one of my colleagues was axed because she hadn’t been mentioned on TripAdvisor enough. Then she sent her résumé to a rival tour company, which contacted her with an unusual business proposition: She’d get paid for every phony, positive review she planted about their tours. Given such underhanded tricks, praise for brand-new operations by online reviewers is especially dubious.”
One other part of the article did give me pause to guffaw. The author mentions that when a tour guide does not know the answer to a question, they just make things up, knowing the question will never check the data. If I had a dollar for each time I quoted a tour guide’s information only to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable who after investigation turned out to be correct. It does make me think about some of the more unusual questions our guests have asked us like “What color were the cardinals robes during the coronation ceremony of the last King of Hungary?” or “Who was the woman who posed for the liberty statue on Gellert Hill?”