TripAdvisor’s New Stand on Fraud

Updated June 23:  This article has been picked up and written about by Travel Weekly, WalletPop, Hotel Chatter, Chris Elliott, Arthur Frommer and others. The conversation continues. Thank you.

Updated June 4:  I was asked on Twitter how many other such warnings exist on the TripAdvisor site.  As of this morning I find a total of 92.  The warnings appear on locations which have paid TripAdvisor advertising as well as those which do not.

A colleague told me that TripAdvisor posted a warning for Waikiki’s Hotel Renew.  I took a look and saw the following statement boldly emblazoned in red at the very top of their TripAdvisor review page:

“…TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe that either this property or individuals associated with the property may have attempted to manipulate our popularity index by interfering with the unbiased nature of our reviews. Please take this into consideration when researching your travel plans.”


Aware that I’ve been critical of TripAdvisor for some time, this colleague stated (and I agree):

“On the one hand, at least TripAdvisor is addressing this, but on the other hand they’re basically admitting that their site is worthless!”

My take on the TripAdvisor fraud warning.

This doesn’t address the likelihood that a huge percentage of all their reviews are fraudulent in one way or another.  Perhaps the warning is a start but I question if they would post one if the hotel was one of their advertisers.

Another new site feature to validate reviews has missed the boat.

TripAdvisor now shows how many total contributions a poster has made at the beginning of each review.  On the surface this looks good to know how active a reviewer has been.

Unfortunately, they include photo contributions in the total count with the number of written reviews.  For example, someone who has written one review and posted three photos shows as making four prior contributions.  Once again you have to click through to see how many actual reviews have been written.


As I stated recently:

“Finding the truth about others’ hotel experiences… has now become impossible.  I consider myself reasonably astute at this, and there is just no way for me to make good use of these reviews any longer.”

Here are two articles (in addition to the one above) that I’ve written on the fraud problems plaguing TripAdvisor as well as other review sites:

What about Hotel Renew?

I attempted to get Hotel Renew’s viewpoint on their TripAdvisor warning.  Thus far they have not responded to my inquiry.

15 thoughts on “TripAdvisor’s New Stand on Fraud”

  1. The whole premise of tripadvisor has to be taken with a grain of salt. They compare apples and oranges when giving comparison ratings of resorts. They can’t determine who is posting and the motive behind a rating’s post. It could be a competitor, a disgruntled employee, or a fanatical guest. The reader must be very careful when evaluating resorts based on this site.

    Regarding its T.A.s I found many to be residents of the location and very biased in their views of food, culture and tourist. I see residency as a conflict of interest because these T.A. often are in related industries such as travel and real estate and while they may not benefit directly, friends and relatives mights. It a bad situation.

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