What the Tech? How to Spot Fake Trip Advisor Reviews

Have you ever booked a hotel that was advertised to look great only to find out it was not nearly as nice as you thought?

You cannot trust everything you read on Trip Advisor. Although the company says it does quite a bit of detective work before reviews are posted, fake reviews can move a bad hotel to the top of the listings.

Reviews are the life-blood of hotels and restaurants. Great reviews and everyone wants to stay or eat there, bad reviews can put you out of business.

It’s such a big deal that there are freelance writers who’ll leave a positive or negative review of any hotel or restaurant for a few
dollars.

And it can work. A little over 2 years ago, as a joke, some guys listed their backyard shed as a restaurant. They got a few people to post glowing reviews and photos and 6 months later, “The Shed at Dulwich” was the top-rated restaurant in London.

How do you know if a hotel or restaurant is as good as the reviews? You’ve got to have someone review the reviews.

Searching for a 4-night stay in San Francisco this summer, I saw thousands of reviews for 400 hotels listed as “Best Value”. Some of these hotels had 7,000 reviews of their own, but one, #7 on the list, has just 64 reviews, but 4 stars or a ‘very good’ rating. The written reviews all sounded legit but I was a bit suspicious.

I copied and pasted the TripAdvisor hotel listing into the website www.fakespot.com.

It analyzed all 64 reviews and reviewers. Searching for common keywords and other reviews written by the same people which might indicate someone is posting reviews for money.

The reviews for this hotel came back as rating only a C, which means about 30% of the TripAdvisor reviews are likely fake.

TripAdvisor also warns of another kind of fake reviews, something they refer to as vandalism reviews when someone leaves a deliberately bad review in an effort to lower its ranking.

These are often left by someone with a competing business.

Those are more difficult to find but TripAdvisor claims it does quite a bit of detective work before reviews are posted.

Just like shopping on Amazon, it’s best not to put all of your decision making into one website with reviews. Before booking a hotel, check it out several places online before making a non-refundable deposit. Check out Google reviews and with third-party apps. And ask your friends.

Categories: News Video, What The Tech