Tag Archives: booking policy

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2015 a dark horse, many changes!

imageNew Media Publishing has made a surprise announcement about its 2015 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, which will be held on Sunday 15 November.

A number of changes (yet again) have been introduced, and one wonders how well they will go down with the chefs, for whom the Continue reading →

Hoteliers take a stand against dishonest guest reviews

The New York Times reported earlier this week that American hotels are looking to take legal action against accommodation and restaurant review websites such as TripAdvisor, given the often unsubstantiated and libelous comments and claims made by guests, with damaging effects on the reputation and income of such establishments.

A class action lawsuit is being planned in the USA against TripAdvisor , which has 35 million guest reviews posted for almost every hospitality business around the world.  Guests can have a free-for-all and report their views without any proof presented to TripAdvisor or input sought from the owners of the hospitality establishment.   This leads to an unbalanced perspective presented, and it is clear that there are many more negative than positive reviews posted, and that most negative reviews are about a dispute about money, often relating to a walk-out and refund demanded but not paid due to a cancellation or booking policy.

TripAdvisor does allow the management of hospitality establishments to respond to such reviews, but has very strict guidelines about such response, in that one may not even mildly disparage the guests who have posted the review (for example, describing the state of inebriation of the guest!), no matter how true it is, one may not use the same words as used in the guest comment, and one may not mention the guest by name, if one knows who the complaint comes from.  TripAdvisor does not remove negative reviews of a property that has been sold, and will not remove reviews identified by the management concerned as being dubious.   TripAdvisor has clear guidelines that guests may not be incentivised in any manner to write positive reviews.

In the past year TripAdvisor has been lambasted for the false positive reviews that many accommodation establishments have posted about their businesses, to raise the average rating, and to ‘suppress’ the negative reviews to a next page.    In addition, negative reviews have been posted by competitors or ex-staff members who wish to settle scores.  TripAdvisor does not validate the accuracy of the reviews posted, does not screen the content, and abdicates legal liability for the content of the reviews posted on its site via the USA Communications Decency Act.   Yet TripAdvisor sends owners of hospitality establishments regular summaries of its listed properties, and it is a recent e-mail that highlighted “Hotel horror stories” that showed that TripAdvisor was endorsing its reviewers’ opinions, and thereby no longer was protected by the Act.

Hospitality businesses say that many reviews are “unsubstantiated, inflammatory claims”.  “The world of the Internet and particularly social media has pretty much outstripped ethical guidelines, and some legal ones as well”, says the founder of KwikChex, an UK reputation management company that is managing the lawsuit against TripAdvisor.   Reviews that claim that staff stole money, assaulted guests or discriminated against clients may not be legal on such review sites, as they allege criminal actions, argues KwikCheck.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the lawsuit against TripAdvisor will be, and what affect it will have on greater fairness and balance in guest reviews.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage