“Find write-ups by professionals whose judgments you trust and rely on that. . . . I would never rely on the judgment of amateurs.” - Arthur Frommer, founder of Frommer’s travel guide laying it on the line about Tripadvisor.
Over the last few days The View from Fez has been emailed by several riad and guest house owners with comments about problems with Tripadvisor.
Here is what one correspondent had to say: "Let's say you open a new guesthouse in Fez (or indeed, anywhere) and of course you want it to do well. So you get all your family and friends to write in to Tripadvisor to say what a marvellous place it is. But then your next-door neighbour opens a guesthouse too, so you get all your family and friends to write in to Tripadvisor again, to tell them what an awful place that is. In a nutshell, Tripadvisor can be manipulated. I'd say heed the warnings, but take the gushings with a pinch of salt."
And another one: "I have just booked with a place "Riad ....".Stupidly I read the reviews on Tripadviser, and 100% disagree with what was said. It was the most appalling stay anywhere. Just wondering if the Riad's reputation is common knowledge, I would really appreciate it, if you had any thoughts on it"
The well known travel magazine Travel & Leisure has published on “Who can you trust,” detailing fake negative and positive reviews appearing on tripadvisor.com for New York hotel that had not yet opened! As travel blog beatofhawaii.com has noted “Perhaps TripAdvisor’s motto, 'get the truth, then go,' needs to be changed to, 'try to find the truth, and go.'”
Award-winning business journalist Barbara E. Hernandez, writing on Bnet, has this to say: I think most people understand that these Web sites which solicit volunteered comments often cater to those with the most extreme views on either end — it skews to people who really liked the place or really disliked it. In some instances, where the negative reviews were unfair, the hotel owner may feel there’s no alternative but to post to try to balance out the review. But that, is a slippery slope.
One of the big problems TripAdvisor is having is that hotel employees are posting negative reviews of competing hotels simply to lower their rankings. Other companies are offering public relations “services” to improve or inflate rankings. It’s no surprise then that TripAdvisor has a warning sticker near these hotels. As always, buyer beware.
Even more bizarre is a report from the New York Times: One recent TripAdvisor review of the agrotourism destination Schrute Farms awarded four stars, lavishly praising the food, while another yielded just one star, casting aspersions on the owners’ sanity. This wild disparity is especially odd because Schrute Farms doesn’t even exist.
The farm “belongs” to Dwight Schrute of the NBC series “The Office”
The Times of London has kept a keen eye on tripadvisor.com and other travel "review" sites:
These examples are just the tip of an iceberg. The entire industry of reviewing hotels and restaurants is in the midst of a revolution that risks leading customers up the path to Fawlty Towers.
The traditional published guides, often compiled by independent inspectors, are struggling, while online sites where checks are few are proliferating.
A London Sunday Times investigation has shown:
1) “Guests” who have never even stayed at a hotel can boost or depress its rating by posting fake reviews.
2) Poorly rated establishments can lift their reputations from one to four stars in a matter of hours by posting fictional positive reviews.
3) Some establishments attempt to damage the reputations of rivals. So tough is the competition that even top hotels and restaurants would consider placing fake reviews to maintain their status.
The best advice is to remember that real travel guides have traditionally been compiled by professional writers who visit hotels and restaurants incognito and fiercely guard their impartiality. There are some great guides around, so if you are planing a trip to Morocco, we suggest you go get one and save yourself the possibility of misleading information.