When we’ve written about the plethora of fake TripAdvisor travel reviews, as we have since 2008, your comments have often been that savvy travel shoppers can spot fake reviews. Well think again. Fraudulent travel reviews on TripAdvisor and other websites are ever more widespread and highly sophisticated. In a word, it’s a huge business and no you cannot spot fake reviews:
“… deceptive opinions are neither easily ignored nor even identiﬁable by a human reader.” –Cornell University
A previous study by Cornell University confirmed that belief. As part of their research, they paid freelance writers for 400 fake and glowing reviews of Chicago hotels. They mixed those with an equal number of positive but believed to be genuine TripAdvisor reviews. The result was that the fake and real reviews were deemed indistinguishable by their judges.
The business of writing fake reviews is growing rapidly in direct relation to the popularity of consumer reviews themselves. In a never ending cycle, businesses in the highly competitive travel sector are forced by financial dependence on reviews to monitor them very closely. When less than stellar reviews or more favorable reviews of competitors places them out of the top tier, companies are left between a rock and a hard place.
Paid reviewers are offering to provide reviews from “aged TripAdvisor accounts.”
“If you want to give a good impression or mislead consumers into trusting you, the best way to do it is with well cloaked fake online reviews.” That according to Chris Emmins of KwikChex reputation management firm.
“People want to believe these online reviews come from genuine people but often they are not. In fact they enable some companies to defraud consumers — there is no question about it.”
How some fake reviewers operate
Advertising that you post fake reviews isn’t how it is done any longer. That’s sure to get you caught straight away.
Businesses can however, as one example, use websites like Fiverr, to post a “gig” in order to purchase fake travel reviews. For as little as five dollars, they’ll be able to buy fake reviews from seasoned accounts making it hard to spot fraud. This business of fake reviews exists as both a cottage industry, here in the US, and as a large and global industry world-wide. Indonesia and India are reputed hot spots for these companies.
Where does that leave us today?
As for us, we’re still using reviews, but with an ever increasing skepticism. We’ve felt that way ever since we first brought the TripAdvisor fraud issue to international mainstream media’s attention 8 years ago.
Tell us what do you do to spot fake reviews?
While we all ponder how to best deal with the reality of fake reviews, here’s wishing you a great weekend. Please stay tuned for more great Hawaii travel deals.