It is standard practise for reviewers to not reveal to a restaurant or hotel that they are doing a review. To do so negates the purpose of seeing the business as the clients they are writing for would. It is considered unethical - even more so if the motivation is to get a free meal, service or accommodation.
If a reviewer is a well known identity, then they often book under an assumed name and there are cases where they have even adopted disguises so a business does not know they are being reviewed.
It is the same story for the publishers of the better travel guides. They have clear ethical guidlines.
"They (our authors) don't take freebies in exchange for positive coverage so you can be sure that the advice you're given is impartial" - Lonely Planet
We will leave it to you to imagine our reaction when we came across the following quote in an article by a person purporting to be a travel writer. To compound matters, the article was syndicated on the website of a major guidebook company - and one that has very high ethical standards.
We will not shame the writer by disclosing his identity. Here is what he wrote about a hotel in Morocco...
Breakfast (a simple one I was told) was 17 Euros per person – which is roughly triple what a great breakfast costs at the cafe down the street. Even when I told them I was doing a review for a third party, their reaction was stolid – which on one hand I admire, but on the other was just such incredibly mercenary bad business practice that I’m certain my jaw dropped. Frankly, if someone tells me they are reviewing me – I would at least offer to provide them with complimentary breakfast so they could write about it (and a complimentary dinner for that matter) but these guys – no way.
If reviewers all acted like this, then the public's faith in reviewers would be lost. With the current controversy over fake reviews on Trip Advisor it is even more important that would-be reviewers maintain the highest standards.