Recently TripAdvisor contacted me to verify that I authored an unfavorable, three star review five years ago. They gave me two weeks to respond or else my review would be removed from their site. That’s right, before I questioned Trip Advisor’s authenticity I was a frequent contributor.
So why, 5 years later, has TripAdvisor questioned my review?
- The email indicated that the verification process is random. Having never received such an email, however, I’m frankly suspicious about whether that is true.
- I noticed that the hotel I wrote about has responded to virtually all negative reviews. Is it possible they asked TripAdvisor to authenticate mine?
Too little, too late.
I can appreciate that, just perhaps, TripAdvisor is making this effort in order to attempt at least some form of verification. After all, if you write fake reviews, you may have some trouble keeping up with all of the different email addresses in order to respond timely and thus keep the post active.
Here’s what I suggest TripAdvisor do:
– Implement a Real Name feature like we see on Amazon reviews. This requires that the reviewer confirm his/her identity with a credit card.
– Link reviewers to their hotel booking if their stay was booked on an Expedia site.
Why won’t TripAdvisor clean up its act?
There appears to be far more financial value in quantity of visitors and reviews than in having a virtually assured review authenticity.
While consumer generated content (reviews) have definitely changed travel, reviews simply will not be trustworthy unless a credible identity verification process is in place. Until then, TripAdvisor reviews will remain corrupted by the travel industry, and thus I suggest using them with a great deal of scrutiny and skepticism.
Jeff: I’ve read hundreds of TA reviews and found them mostly valid of hotels on my first stay. Of course readers must make their own judgment as to credibility of reviews. I do so by comparing how many are favorable and unfavorable and then make a mental estimate of whether favorable, unfavorable or average assessments prevail. The content of the reviews are also important and I usually discount those that appear to be a rant about a single incident, or are either overly favorable or unfavorable. Reviews that focus on cleanliness, decor, room comfort, security, staff friendliness and attentiveness are of most interest. I sometimes look up the reviewers profile and check on how many reviews they’ve made and where so as to avoid NKohala’s annoyances. Lastly, I always use more than one source of reviews and that’s why Google Maps Places is great. Above all, readers should always caveat emptor.
Thanks for your wise thoughts.
Trip Advisor Hawaii forums are devolving into a bifurcated distribution of posters: squabbling regulars who show up for “gotchas” and add little new info and clueless newbies, who are remarkably unsophisticated, compared to Hawaii-bound travelers during the 90s. I don’t know where “yummy cheap eats” are and I don’t want to. I don’t want a $100 room and nobody has any new info on places I do want to know about.
The “gotcha” crowd and the clueless newbies (especially those who seem never to have lived online before) get all wigged out over “courtesy” and bemoan “power trips” and “authority figures” such as the most frequent posters. They focus on style of comment rather than the valuable info–and thus get what they deserve.
In any event, TA is generating a LOT fewer page views from me and I am taking my reviews and other content elsewhere now.
Thanks NKohala for your interesting comment.