Can You Trust Trip Advisor?

I’m having a difficult time wearing the free hat that Trip Advisor sent me with its, “Get the truth, then go,” slogan. The problem is I no longer feel that I can always trust their site.

After posting many reviews on Trip Advisor, in November they declined to publish my negative review of the Pacific Monarch Hotel in Honolulu.

I submitted the same review twice for publication. Both times I was told by Trip Advisor that my writing “did not meet review criteria.”

Conflict of Interest?

Trip Advisor is owned by Expedia which markets Resort Quest properties that include the Pacific Monarch Hotel. While it may just be a coincidence, is it in their best interest to publish a negative review?

Apparently, not always.

During most of 2007, all of the Pacific Monarch reviews were above average. I stayed there November 2007. How many other negative reviews, in addition to mine, were denied publication during this time period?

As this article was going to press I found that Trip Advisor recently published two negative reviews of the Pacific Monarch for the first time since 2006. Perhaps this is a good sign that an editorial policy change has been made.

My review, however, remains unpublished. I’m showing it to you now.

The Pacific Monarch review that Trip Advisor did not want you to see.

“One of the Worst in Waikiki; No Monarch Would Stay Here.”

We were excited to try this older hotel again (it had been years), given all of the favorable recent reviews. It has, however, been a disappointment in every way.

The whole parking situation is strange. One garage door didn’t work at all with our key. We had to walk around the narrow and blind parking lot to get to a door that would open. The lot is one of the smallest we’ve seen, so don’t even think of having a larger car here.

When we came back at 10pm, the garage was locked and there was no room key reader to open the door. We had to park the car and go to the front desk for assistance.

The hotel has a typical dingy appearance (not unusual for Honolulu). We had an ocean view studio, which only had a view from one angle in the room.

The air conditioning was substandard and never kept the room cool. Drapes were oh-so-old and blackout, so it was either all or nothing. The bed and linens were just okay. Furnishings were dated and junkie. The lighting was poor. Our TV wasn’t connected to the swivel stand and nearly fell out on the floor. One bright spot: the kitchenette was very well equipped though small.

I cannot understand the good reviews, unless you are from Iowa and have never traveled before. Otherwise, this hotel is a disappointment, and I would suggest avoiding it.

Lastly, we had a good rate based on a Travel Zoo promotion. At that super low rate, it was still only barely tolerable. I would rate Pacific Monarch among the most unpleasant hotels at which I’ve had the privilege to stay during my last 35 years of around the world travel.

Has your experience with Trip Advisor been positive or negative? Do you feel my review should have been accepted for publication by Trip Advisor? I’d enjoy hearing your comments.

7 thoughts on “Can You Trust Trip Advisor?”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. Trip Advisor needs to be taken to task for their biased views where travelers are allowed to say anything, no matter how false or libelous, and owners are censored especially if they say anything negative about the company.

    Some of their punitive tricks include exploiting the provocative by emphasizing it in their reviews to bring more hits to their site. They often will disrupt the sequence so the negative review from the past shows while more recent positive ones do not. Also, if their site is not coming up high enough on the search engines, they will take out ads in the name of the business in order to show up on the first page of listings.

    Trip Advisor is not listed as a Better Business Bureau accredited business and have been given a C+ rating based on unresolved customer complaints. They show 1 complaint in the last 36 months which is deceiving because the BBB won’t even accept a complaint against Trip Advisor that doesn’t involve a financial transaction. That negates any complaints regarding false and libelous reviews which I’m sure would be numerous if they were allowed and lower their grade to F.

    “Get the truth, then go” is a joke when they allow anyone to post anything whether they have been to an establishment or not, and ignore their own guidlines. For example, their guidelines prohibit public slur campaigns but then they allow such reviews to remain posted anyway.

    The Attorney General of Massachusetts has said that she will take action against them if she receives enough complaints. So I urge your readers who have such complaints to submit them to her.

    You can also post comments on since he is a big fan of theirs as well as Yelp and is repeatedly plugging them.

  2. I think they did not publish it because of the slur against the Iowa people. I have published reviews on TA that mention with no problem.

    A bigger problem on TA is the squabbling amongst “regulars” on the forum and cluesless newbies whining when they are told their naive plans won’t work. TA lets this go on and on to generate page views.

  3. I work in the travel industry and it’s well(ish) known that for a hotel to get rid of its negative reviews it must join Expedia, as Expedia doesn’t like the hotels it pushes to have too many negative reviews.
    Tripadvisor is basically part of a scam. Anyone who is in the know doesn’t take it seriously. It’s just there to sucker tourists into clicking links.

  4. Maybe it was because TravelZoo, their competitor was mentioned in the review. Perhaps you can re-submit your review without the mention of TravelZoo to see what happens. I’ve seen them remove links to competing websites on many reviews.

  5. Thanks for your comments Pua. We asked Trip Advisor twice to publish our review or explain why they couldn’t. They refused and would only say that it did not meet their criteria.

    Regarding the impact of a bad review on a small hotel or B&B, Trip Advisor allows the owner to write a management response if they disagree with a review.

    You’re right that consumers need to do their own research. Jeff has a follow-up post coming this week on, “What travel industry consolidation means to your trip plans.”

    In his upcoming post, Jeff mentions that Trip Advisor allows you to click on the name of the reviewer to see everything that he/she has written. This may help people decide if the review can be trusted.

    We hope that we feel better about Trip Advisor in the future. After submitting many reviews over the years to them (without issue), we’re left wondering.

    Aloha from Rob at Beat of Hawaii

  6. I would definitelely contact Trip Advisor and ask them what the problem is with not publishing your review. Seems you are right there with conflict of interest.

    I just talked to a Big Island B&B owner who has been running a quality B&B for 15 years on the Big Island about trip advisor reviews. She is not all so happy about it. It can really damage your reputation when people take tripadvisor as a vent for not having been happy with the weather or other parts on their vacation, not related to the accommodation.

    But guess what this even happens with the ‘Big Island revealed’ (and other Hawaii Revealed Books) book. I was so astonished by a few really bad reviews which I could not agree with but there it’s printed, so tourists take it for granted. Always use your own judgment and do your own research. Aloha, Pua

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