If power corrupts then as they say absolute power corrupts absolutely.
TripAdvisor, with it’s 45 million reviews of some 500,000 destinations is the undisputed powerhouse in shaping people’s perceptions of what hotel they should stay in and where.
Good or bad reviews on the giant site can profoundly affect a hotel’s bottom line.
So it comes as no real surprise that some hotels are bribing their guests with offers of free rooms, upgrades, and discounts if they post an “honest” but “positive” review of their property on TripAdvisor.
The UK-based, MailOnline reports that 30 properties around the world have been blacklisted for encouraging fraudulent positive hotel reviews, and says that there is a thriving black market in hotels willing to pay people to write these reviews.
In particular, MailOnline points to the Cove Inn in Cornwall (England) as being an especially egregious offender .
According to the report, also picked up by Hotelmarketing.com, the Cove’s manager invites guests to become “brand champions” and post their positive (but “honest”) review along with a couple of equally positive reviews to the Good Food Guide and Michelin Guide.
The moment the reviews go public, a Cove Card is activated and the rewards become available.
What do “paid for reviews” sound like?
How about: “Wow, what a find,” or ” a peaceful paradise.”
Come to think about it, these kinds of comments are not so dissimilar from those professional travel writers use.
Nevertheless, it’s wrong, says Emma O’Boyle from TripAdvisor.com.uk.
She says that owners are encouraged to have their guests write positive reviews after their stays. ” But it’s strictly against our guidelines to offer incentives, discounts and upgrades. We take serious steps to penalize business’s trying to manipulate the system.”
The Cove spokesperson denied the inn was paying people to post positive reviews….he said all they were doing was trying to reward customer loyalty.
Although TripAdvisor places a red flag against those properties it suspects of Paid-for-Reviews, considering that a review in TripAdvisor can make or break a hotel, it’s unlikely the
Payola practice will end anytime soon.