Every few months another fake review appears on TripAdvisor and makes the headlines. This time, users of TripAdvisor have rated the fictitious hotel featured in the Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel and it has been highly rated!
The article, published in the Telegraph and features reviews from ‘visitors’ while giving praise to the comedy film that was released earlier this year, goes on to mention that this is not the first time that TripAdvisor has been subject to spoof reviews. As recently as last year, the global review platform has hosted: restaurants that have never existed; and aGlaswegian hostel masquerading as a hotel, as well as the incident where a Commercial Manager for a hotel chain praised his company’s hotels while down-rating competitive hotels.
In an interesting move, TripAdvisor acknowledges that the page is a spoof and requests users to not to try booking! Instead, it encourages visitors to add their own review. This raises concerns about the use of review platforms. Consumers rely on reviews to help influence the buying decision – we know that 87% of consumers read reviews; but how can consumers take reviews seriously when there are concerns about the nature of them? How can a review platform show spoof and fake reviews alongside genuine reviews without causing confusion to the unaware?
Feefo, provider of verified ratings and reviews, works hard to counter the opportunity for fake reviews to mislead consumers. CEO Andrew Mabbutt said “While The Grand Budapest Hotel is known by some as a film, this is not known by everyone. We recognise that TripAdvisor is attempting to make it clear that the hotel is from the film, but we still expect this type of content on spoof websites – where it is clearly a joke and consumers can share in it, but this is a platform that is relied upon by tourism the world over. Merchants will question the validity of open reviews platforms: if users can say what they like about a Hollywood Hotel, what is stopping them from saying what they like about their business? On behalf of its merchants, Feefo generates feedback from genuine customers – feedback that is used by businesses to deliver improvements and used by consumers to understand the experiences of genuine customers.”
Feefo offers the following advice to consumers: check the source of reviews before being influenced by them! Feefo insists on proof of a transaction when allowing a merchant to request feedback and routinely audits the process – this means that a consumer can be assured that any review that is shown on our site is genuine. Already, Feefo works closely with many travel organisations from Expedia to Butlins, if your business wants to experience the power of genuine ratings and reviews, please email us.