Decals in windows promoting TripAdvisor reviews

What’s Wrong with TripAdvisor, and What to Do About It

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In the travel industry, nothing can touch TripAdvisor reviews. It’s the gold standard for information and comparison shopping for hotels, restaurants and excursions.

Yet, just below the surface, there are some major problems with the service. There’s a dark side that is widely discussed in the industry, but rarely acknowledged to consumers: there’s a huge problem with fake TripAdvisor reviews.

Exterior of the Hotel Giraffe
How do you know which hotel reviews to believe?

Here’s What’s Wrong with TripAdvisor Reviews

TripAdvisor Fake Reviews

The company has been embarrassed by recent exposes where a homeless shelter was propelled in the TripAdvisor rankings to become one of Britain’s top hotels or a five-star restaurant in Italy that is Michelin quality but turned out not to exist at all.

In 2017, “The Shed at Dulwich” became London’s #1 rated restaurant on TripAdvisor – only it didn’t exist. These astounding stories are rare, although they seem to be increasing in frequency.

However, much more common are the fake TripAdvisor reviews for known businesses. The site has become a place where competitors attack each other with poor ratings and business owners respond by posting their own over-the-top praise.

Since each TripAdvisor review counts equally, each one of these reviews becomes a tactical weapon in trying to inch up in the TripAdvisor star system. In 2014, the company was slapped with a $600,000 fine in Italy for fake reviews, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped the problems.

Chicken and potatoes on a plate
Fake restaurant reviews are particularly common

And in September 2018, a high-profile investigation by The Times of London found that one in three (33%) of TripAdvisor reviews are fake. The company has denied the results of the independent investigation. However, from our experience, this seems pretty accurate.

A second, broader independent investigation in September 2019 combed through 250,000 reviews and found 15% of them were fake. More troubling, when fake reviews were pointed out to TripAdvisor, they acknowledged that 93% of the hotels engaging in fake ratings had done it previously. Translating this, hotels engaging in this practice have been allowed to remain on the TripAdvisor site to continue engaging in the practice.

After many years, the company has quietly recognized there is a problem. In November 2018, they relaunched the platform as a kind of social network. The theory is that people will trust the recommendations of friends and family.

It is still early in the life of the “new TripAdvisor” to determine whether this new direction will be successful. However, by November 2019 (just 12 months later), many of the social network elements have been rolled back and instead sponsored content from advertisers fills the space. It would seem that the “new TripAdvisor” was a failure.

Very Little Quality Control

TripAdvisor seems to rely on software to “review” the reviews. Unfortunately, the software has significant limitations so the result is that there’s almost no quality control: anyone can post anything. As such, the vast majority of ratings come from one-hit wonders – people who have created the account to gripe or rave about a single particular experience (that may or may not have actually happened).

In the September 2019 investigation, 79% of the five-star fraudulent hotel reviews were left by individuals who had no other activity or ratings on the site.

As competitors wage war and businesses respond with their own fakes, you end up with a lot of contributors who have less than 5-10 reviews. Even if the review does come from a real person, atypical experiences receive disproportionate credibility.

Bar in the restaurant Umi
Don’t believe everything you read in online reviews

Comparisons are Rejected

We’re a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor.” They keep sending us e-mails telling us how we rank among the elite of the elite on the site. But we’ve had many reviews rejected. Why? Those reviews have included actual useful information, such as a particular hotel being close to another business or attraction. That kind of context is frowned upon, even though it is actually useful.

Merchant May Be Gaming the System

We’ve stayed at a number of hotels where we are absolutely bombarded by the hotel management to leave positive reviews for them. We had a restaurant offer to complete the TripAdvisor review for us. On our recent trip to San Francisco, California, a restaurant offered us a complimentary glass of wine for completing a TripAdvisor review.

And one hotel in Munich, Germany went so far as to set up a computer terminal right at the front desk where if you completed the review under the watchful eye of management, you’d receive a 5% discount.

TripAdvisor is a Democracy

Every vote on TripAdvisor counts equally. This may come off as elitist, but this is the core incentive that drives fake reviewers. If TripAdvisor employed, compensated, or otherwise partnered with professional or semi-professional reviewers, much of this could be avoided. To be relevant in the future, TripAdvisor needs to drive quality, not quantity.

The idea of a “social network” was an interesting one. However, after 12 months into the new TripAdvisor experiment, the results were yet another disappointment for the website.

Hotel bed
The photos look lovely, but some negative ratings can be deleted — our negative hotel review got deleted by the company. This hotel currently has a 4.5 Excellent rating on the site, despite serious problems.

Negative Reviews May Be Deleted Without Reason

There have been numerous reports of negative reviews being deleted, especially if a business is a TripAdvisor advertiser or engages in pay-per-click marketing campaigns with the company. The company doesn’t want to hurt a potential advertiser or revenue source.

However, this leads consumers to an unnatural and unrealistic opinion of a property through a process of selective omission. Furthermore, legitimate warnings of unsafe properties where rapes and deaths have occurred are also deleted by the company (such as this one).

Members of Congress have taken notice and instructed the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. The chairwoman of the FTC has expressed concern over TripAdvisor’s business practices and a full investigation may already be underway. (Read more details here.)

To be fair to the company, TripAdvisor has a website statement in which they claim to have a zero tolerance for fraud.

The company finally took action in 2018 and sought criminal prosecution of a single individual in a high-profile criminal case in Italy (note: this is the same country where the company was fined in 2014). The company pressed for charges against a man who posted more than 1,000 fake reviews. The man got nine months in prison and a $9,300 fine.

But more importantly, TripAdvisor got a public relations victory in presenting an image of a company concerned by the scale and scope of the problem. TripAdvisor corporate attorney Brad Young said that this action was no less than a “landmark ruling for the Internet.”

Given the scope of the problem, one has to wonder how many more of these cases would need to happen to truly address the issue. And no word from Mr. Brad Young on when we might expect a second prosecution for fake reviews. Given the scale, scope, and severity of the fake review problem, consumers have expected a more ambitious response.

Sign for The Jefferson Hotel, one of the hotels that deserves its positive TripAdvisor reviews
Some hotels truly deserve their positive online reputations

How to Use TripAdvisor

But TripAdvisor isn’t all bad. It can still be helpful if you know what to do. Here are our strategies for getting some benefit from the service.

Ignore all TripAdvisor Rankings and Star Recommendations

Use price as a guide instead. Let your budget dictate, use the search filters for things like parking or pool that may be important to you, and then drill down to read the qualitative reviews for the property.

Don’t Believe Every Qualitative Review

Ignore all reviews from reviewers that don’t have at least 50 reviews. We’ve recently started ignoring all reviewers that don’t have a minimum of 200 reviews. Travelers should also ignore all reviews from people who are from the same city where you are looking (so if you are looking at Chicago, ignore all reviews from people who list Chicago as their hometown). And ignore all reviews without a customized profile picture.

Exterior of the Siemens Med Museum
There are ratings for hotels and restaurants, as well as attractions and museums

Don’t Login and Clear Your Cache Frequently

The reviews are customized based on past search behavior or marketing relationships with the company. You’ll find that the majority of the “Just For You” reviews are based on companies that pay money to TripAdvisor, not that they are places you may want to eat or stay. Clearing your cache won’t stop all of this, but it does help reduce the target marketing.

A second option is to use an incognito or private browser window. This can help provide some additional layer of anonymity.

Don’t Rely on TripAdvisor Exclusively

Use other data sources to supplement your search process. More and more, we’ve been turning to other travel blogs. They are authored by a real person who has real expertise — an authority on the topic. And a good travel article is worth more than all the generic, anonymous reviews.

However, if you have the time or inclination to wade through the clutter, there can be some value in TripAdvisor reviews.

51 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with TripAdvisor, and What to Do About It”

  1. Agreed, Lance. However, if you read carefully, TripAdvisor reviews can be a great resource. I don’t automatically ignore hometown reviews for restaurants though from people who also review elsewhere when they travel.

    1. I am finding it difficult to get in to trip adviser although I have been a reviewer for many years. Has the system changed? Have I been barred? What is going on?

      1. Hi,
        Just saw this. I had the same experience. The user interface really s…. for us as reviewers now and I also find that Tripadvisor has become domain specific meaning that I can’t log in with my dk password in UK, NZ or wherever. I have almost given up on making reviews. Also a lot of my reviews that I though I did was saved as draft – just without any of the text I wrote.

        So it really requires persistence if you want to review something… 🙁

  2. This is such a great post, and so true. I’ve had to usually ignore the top 10% of reviews on Tripadvisor to find anything good. Not always, but sometimes. You also give great tips. I’ve posted several reviews on Tripadvisor myself, and I have more helpful votes than I have reviews. But one of the best reviews I put on the site was rejected simply because I mentioned I met the owner of the company! I can’t wait until they implement the changes you recommend. Then it would be like an interactive Lonely Planet, and probably the most definitive travel website in the world.

    1. Just to be clear, I can’t guarantee that Trip Advisor will make any changes at all. I’m hopeful, but can’t promise it.

  3. Katrina the Two Week Traveler

    I review restaurants in my hometown. Why is that a bad thing? If anything, I’d trust reviews by locals more than a tourist who ate somewhere one time.

    1. Katrina, most of the bogus reviews seem to come from locals (and they forget things are geo-tagged). You get businesses that sign up using their real location to submit bogus reviews of their establishments or negative reviews of their competitors. I’ve found that the majority of suspect/fake reviews (particularly for restaurants) are locals – both the fake positive and fake negative reviews. As such, I now use it as one of my filters. It’s probably the second best way to avoid fake reviews (after my advice for a 50-review minimum).

    2. I have to agree with you statement…..I guess its different if you’re planning a trip to Italy and the restaurant owner had 50 cousins that have reviewed his place. I usually travel with a list and then ask at the hotel or AIRBNB or even someone in a coffee shop if they have been to (x,y & z)

      1. Local recommendations can be really helpful. We have found that hotels often get kickbacks on such recommendations. However, we’ve rarely had a bad experience based on such recommendations.

  4. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve always been skeptical of TA reviews, especially in destinations where I know the merchants are gaming the systems. In the work I do with destinations, I encourage businesses to build positive coverage outside of TA so the one negative review rolls in, it doesn’t seem that devastating.

    In the past six months or so, I’ve been contracted by TA to write several official TripAdvisor city guides for key destinations. This means I get to give recommendations, based on my on-the-ground experience of living in a destination, helping travelers decide what they should see and where to eat. In most cases, I don’t recommend the top-rated spots, instead I pick the best spots in the city that may be buried at the bottom of TA because they aren’t reviewed as often. When you look at that destination’s page, you will see guides that say “exclusively commissioned by TripAdvisor”. They may be about food, museums, off-the-beaten path, romance, family travel, or some other theme.

    I think it’s important to address the issue of travel bloggers using TA. I see a number of people who take sponsored trips and rate the places they ate at, or the hotels they were comped. That is a clear ethical problem in my mind, and a violation of TA guidelines. No one should be giving a review on services or product that was comped. In theory, I could review the travel services I pay for outright, but since I think the lines get blurred, I just do not do any reviews on TA at all as I don’t want anyone questioning the integrity of my review.

    It will be interesting to see future changes. I know of several other internal projects that really makes me think they are trying to build a better site with more trusted and reputable travel information.

    I also agree with Suzanne’s comment above on not necessarily disregarding hometown reviews. Where I live in Belize, the locals who review the businesses here are the best resource, same as when I lived in Taiwan.

    1. Thanks Erin. I haven’t seen the guides you mentioned. I’ll take a look. I think how they are handled is critical. From my perspective, TA’s credibility is part of the problem. Anything bordering on an “official guide” from TA is totally suspect due to their “just for you” target marketing. They’ve got two business models that conflict: independent advice, but a profit model of pushing certain businesses. So, while Trip Advisor’s brand is taking a credibility hit, your brand as a writer isn’t. I’d read you and I believe you. And that gets to heart of what I wrote. Trip Advisor needs to get away from the democracy model (every review/vote counts equally) and into the quality model. Several years ago, we met with the fine folks from Trip Advisor. They were wonderful people and we had a great discussion about the site and travel in general. But I didn’t get any sense they are going to move to a more quality-focused site. I hope your prediction of future changes takes hold. The most recent initiative (gamification and push more volume reviews) seems to directly contradict the goals of a better site with more reputable information.

      As for the ethical issue of bloggers using TA. Personally, it’s less of an issue for me. That said, we have hundreds and hundreds of TA contributions, but only 5 in the last two years (and none on anything that would be a conflict). As the quality of the site has gone down, we’ve slowed our use. If Trip Advisor ever gets serious about the fake review problem and they get serious about increasing quality, we’d welcome the change and would want to be a part of the solution.

  5. I use TA but in conjunction with a few other sites for hotel info. I agree to ignore the one offs and look for those that contribute more.
    The part that annoys me is the “just for you” recommendations now as well as the cards from restaurants/hotels/etc to rate them asap on TA. It’s a vis opus cycle of folks screaming to get heard. You can see how it has declined from a must use resource to one that is more revenue driven – I believe Expedia now owns it.
    I like to review the private guides and tours that don’t get much love so that people can find the small businesses to support over the grey lines/hoho buses
    As for local reviews, I’m not bothered by those as I tend to stay in philly hotels/eat locally and if I would blog about it then I can TA about it (when I get the chance).

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment. I completely agree about using TA in conjunction with other data sources. Trip Advisor can still be extremely valuable if you sort through the clutter. On the hotel front, the thing I value the most are the independent (and unfiltered) hotel photos. They can be extremely enlightening.

  6. I visited a very ordanry indian eatery with great reveiws on trip advisor it wasso far of the beaten track that no traveller would ever found it

  7. Suze The Luxury Columnist

    Some very good points and I do take Trip Advisor with a pinch of salt, especially if someone has posted hardly any other reviews!

  8. I am a huge fan of Trip Advisor, but always read enough reviews that I get a balanced view of any property. I especially read the bad ones, to see how the company responds to the complaints. It’s also important to look at the profile of the people reviewing to see if you are likeminded (i.e. backpackers who like hostels may have a different standard than a luxury traveller). Despite the gaming, I still think TA is a valued resource.

  9. Thank you, Lance! There are some great observations here and I do use Trip Advisor quite frequently. This makes me think twice about a few things. Thanks for the insight!

  10. RobRob@TravelLatte(.net)

    I have had the misfortune of finding out during a stay that a property effectively paid certain customers for positive reviews. Companies that engage in this behavior should be noted, if not publicly shamed. I don’t think the democracy aspect works against TA, but there needs to be a filter. Show me only reviews from “Senior Contributors,” for example. There may be some valid, one-off reviewers, but I’m most interested in seasoned reviewers’ impressions. And I’d go so far as saying they should get rid of the Just For You recommendations completely. I have yet to see one I’d actually choose.

  11. Chris Christensen

    Btw, no space in the word TripAdvisor. I am a big fan of TripAdvisor (and have worked there off and on). Fake reviews do happen, but the matter has been overblown. We have found it to be a great tool for finding that small hotel that we would not have otherwise discovered. Throw out the best couple reviews, through out the worst couple of reviews and look for the trends. When everyone tells you it is “dingy”… book elsewhere. When one review says it is near the subway and one says it is far, then you know what question to investigate.

    1. Thanks Chris. I agree that TripAdvisor can be an excellent source for finding those hidden gems. And I agree about trends, which is why I wrote this.

  12. Carole Terwilliger Meyers

    In the past I wrote a few reviews for Trip Advisor but stopped when I realized they gave me no professional credits or links. I still get regular e-mails from them saying I am one of their top reviewers! I think it is because I happened to review a few places that have turned out to be very popular. Wouldn’t it be great if TA realized the value of blogger reviews and actually highlighted and credited them properly? Until they do, I won’t be writing any more reviews on their site.

    1. Thanks Carole. Personally, I don’t need the credit. In fact, I’d argue that’s part of the issue – their new gamification strategy is designed to drive volume, rather than value. I also wouldn’t suggest that they let every blogger post links all over the place. While that appeals to me as a blogger, it puts the incentive in the wrong place (quantity over quality). I’d much rather have TripAdvisor dial back on the promotions (although the tote bags were awesome!) and focus on hiring part-time reviewers to supplement and standardize their reviews. They can still have “fan favorite” or “community reviews” while having a more authoritative voice for their official reviews (which would be driven by trained reviewers).

  13. I agree with several of the comments given, some reviews seem too good to be true and on the flip side I see a lot of reviewers that only have that one review and they are complaining about ridiculous things. I travel to Sandals in Jamaica a lot and always love the reviewers whining that they booked the lowest level room and then were put into the room they booked rather than being upgraded to a butler suite or bitching about things beyond the control of anyone, my favorite being a reviewer who did nothing but complain that the ocean water was “too salty.” You really have to wade through the fakes and the complainers but I do like looking at TripAdvisor for reviews and seeing if there are consistent complaints running through recent reviews that would make me not want to book a hotel or go to the attraction. I’ve actually been relying a lot more on Yelp recently though I’m sure the same thing is happening there but it seems like Yelpers are a younger group rather than the old stuffies at TA.

    Also, has anyone else found that people on the TripAdvisor message boards are gigantic assholes?! I was planning a trip to Maui several years ago and was trying to figure out the best luau to book and after looking through the forums but not seeing the specific questions I wanted answered I posted a thread, the very first commenter replied “we’ve discussed this many, many times before. You need to read through prior threads before posting something new”. I’m a member of some other travel boards where the same questions do get posted time and again and rather than being complete assholes about it, we start a new discussion or someone will post the link to when it was discussed before.

    1. omg Ang I 100% agree!! Literally trying to organise a trip to Hawaii now and have asked 2 questions that I genuinely search for the answer for hours without luck and anything I found was years old and got the same assholey replies about it being discussed or talking down to me like I’m a idiot. Making me want to delete my account

  14. Great article. I wrote over 600 reviews and your ignore any reviewer with less than 50 reviews resonates. We spent a year travelling and I wrote many reviews. I also worked out that the hotels or restaurants ranked 20-40 were perfectly fine.

  15. I completely agree that you can’t use TripAdvisor exclusively. Using a mix can help you get a better feel for what’s really happening. And, I totally think TripAdvisor should do some type of partnership with professional or semi-professional reviewers. It would be a huge differentiation for them to market and wonderful service to provide people.

  16. I’m not sure that you need to take so many precautions to use TA effectively. Sounds like overkill, at least for hotels and guesthouses.

    In my personal experience, any place with several dozen reviews which are largely positive, including recent ones, turns out to be as expected from TA.

    Although I agree that TA could improve things along the lines you suggest.

  17. Your post on 50 reviews is Not Good Advice at all. I’ve only been to Mexico 2 times. The first a great vacation at a great place, just too short. The next year went for 10 days (1 day was too much !) Resort was an absolute disaster; unhealthy ,dangerous and inconsistent . You better believe I wanted “TO WARN OTHER TRAVELERS ” about this place. The main reason being WE, like others, were sucked in by all the rave reviews. I believe good businesses can stand on their own merits, but people have a right to be warned of “ONES THAT CAN HARM THEM”. This is why I have only” ONE Review”. So your logic is flawed IMO for people writing BAD reviews, but I do agree that the Great ,Terrific , Bla Bla reviews need to be questioned, especially the ones that say I have travelled to (what ever place) extensively for years. And yet this is their 1ST Review?

    1. Thanks Bob. There have been instances of businesses complaining on TripAdvisor about competitors…usually with just one or two reviews. How would you sort out people like you who have had a negative experience and the other fake reviews? We’ve found our system of ignoring all reviewers with low numbers works well for sorting out both the fake positive and the fake negative reviews. It’s not a perfect system, but it gets most of it.

  18. I think there are more problems than most people see or know.

    I have had my issues with the reviews and forums.

    Watch out also for those bad reviews written by fired employees.

  19. Great article! I just posted a review that is pending. It’s great for other travellers to “beware” of the conflicting cancellation policy. I made a down payment for a trip six months in advance and 36 hours later contacted the owner to cancel because my fiance lost his job. Trip advisor policy states we could receive a refund minus the booking fee which seems fair. The owner didn’t list any other policy on their website so that’s what I thought would happen. What is actually happening is the owner will not refund any of my deposit! Furthermore, there is a policy on their rental property website now which states no refunds of deposits. Since I left a bad review, who knows if it will be published.

  20. Totally opaque organisation. We run a tour operator in Croatia and would never involve ourselves in fake reviews – we do however get a lot of great reviews (95% excellent score) which is wonderful but there’s a reason for that – we offer a great customer experience!!! TA periodically cull guest reviews – about 20 reviews disappear periodically. They will simply not address our subsequent enquiry – simply sending a template email over and over again to our enquiry as to why the review were removed. Guests have taken time and effort to write the reviews and we both deserve some explanation as to why TA have acted as they have!!

  21. Are you kidding me?!? Not only do I use TripAdvisor as a way of scoping out potential places to stay when I travel, I also use TripAdvisor to post reviews on places I’ve stayed in my travels. I’m a single mom in my forties and as often as I can, I like to get away with, or sometimes without, my kids and relax. I post reviews on the places I’ve stayed whether I’ve had a good experience or not and I have nowhere near 50 reviews. You’re saying that people should discount my hotel experiences just because I’m not a professional??? Do you really think that is going to change the website at all?

    Instead of proposing that the average person, which happens to be the person I’m looking for when I’m looking at reviews, not even be counted when it comes to positive or negative experiences while traveling, how about instead recommend that the average person using TripAdvisor be a little more thorough with their review searches and take everything with a grain of salt.

    The average person isn’t stupid. Please don’t treat us that way.

    1. If TripAdvisor is working for you, then keep using it. I’m suggesting that TripAdvisor doesn’t work anymore for the vast majority of users. And it’s not just me, TripAdvisor recognizes there’s a problem too. Two months ago, they completely refocused the website to become a social media platform (of sorts). It was an attempt to get away from the democracy where everyone gets a vote and instead have users rely more on their friend’s experiences. It’s an interesting approach, unfortunately the jury’s still out on whether it will make it any more useful (and reliable) for the vast majority of travelers.

      Earlier this year, an independent study found that between 30-40% of all reviews on the website are fake. Now, if everyone were just like you, then there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, they aren’t. On our recent travels, we tried to piece together how many of the reviews were fake (incorrect details, information that was included based on a media story but not an actual person, etc.). Our best guess is that at least 60% of the reviews are fake. For example, we found a restaurant in Wales where dozens of people all described a particular dish EXACTLY the same way (word for word). Or, there was the hotel in South Carolina that had the exact same review posted every month by a different user. There was a restaurant in Chicago that was praised as being handicap accessible, only it had stairs inside. I wish we could say these were unusual, but they seem to be exceptionally common.

      I’m sorry that you feel like I’m suggesting that your voice be counted less. The good news for you is that TripAdvisor doesn’t listen to me (or the experts who have told them the same thing). So your vote will still be heard equally…along with all the fake reviews. I agree with your suggestion about taking everything with a grain of salt. This is exactly why we’ve given people criteria to help them sort through the vast quantity fake reviews. For us, we no longer pay any attention to a reviewer that doesn’t have at least 200 reviews. It has proven to be a remarkably effective way to actually find quality reviews.

  22. You say ignore reviewers that don’t have at least 50 reviews, and you want a minimum of 200 reviews?

    REALLY? I want evals from real people, but how likely is any normal person to write the quantities you recommend?
    In fact if I saw someone with that many reviews I’d be suspicious.

    1. Absolutely! I want evaluations from real travelers who actually have some real experience with travel. Not someone who is paid for their review or has no basis for comparison. Yes, this automatically filters out 95% of the reviewers – and that’s the goal. Get rid of the garbage and find actual usual information.

    1. The TripAdvisor Forums are definitely a mixed bag. Over the years, we’ve gotten some great advice there. The good news is that you have significantly less of the fake information that is so prevalent in the reviews area. The bad news is that you’re dealing with people…and all that entails. It can still be a good place to get timely information on a destination rapidly changing (countries in turmoil, how new laws are impacting a particular place, etc.). With that said, we have seen the quality of the TripAdvisor Travel Forums (or Travel Boards) decline significantly in the last few years. We’re definitely using them less.

  23. Tripadvisor sends emails for deals !! Don’t bother they are always twice the price with numerous stopovers I checked out Newcastle to Preveza and was going to take 19 hours to get there with one stopover and cost £450 return in May

  24. I just closed my Tripadvisor account after being a member since 2005 and posting a couple hundred fair reviews.

    I encountered a review that claimed a restaurant’s service was slow because they hired “Mexicans,” implying that they’re lazy. I reported the review, yet received no response. Two weeks later I reported it again. Nothing. And the review is still up.

    That’s unacceptable. I’m out.

    1. The reporting process for TripAdvisor leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes action is quick. Sometimes it never comes at all.

  25. Agree completely, especially with point number 5.

    Democracy is a terrible idea. Aside from the unscrupulous competitor, people who aren’t qualified to leave a comment are able to tangibly affect the business, often unfairly.

    In the real world, if you met a person who espoused an opinion, you could make a judgement call. Online, this isn’t possible.

    This is incredibly frustrating because businesses live and die by these platforms. It’s not limited to TripAdvisor. It’s simply lazy and such an integral part of the business model of most tech companies they wouldn’t change it if they could.

    The technology is already there for fake reviewers through the e-commerce platforms. Want to leave a review, add your credit card details to prove you’re real.

    1. Personally, for hotel reviews, I’m using hotel sites that only allow reviews based off verified purchases. Still possible to game the system, but would cost a fortune to do so.

  26. After searching for a place to stay, I keep getting new windows opening up unsolicited and I can’t get it to stop months or years after I looked into that search. This constant opening of new windows slows down my computer opening and operating speed. It is terrible. I can’t use Tripadvisor without fear of numerous unsolicited attacks on my computer. I have tried everything I can to block it and deleting extensions but nothing works. It is evil and insidious.

    1. We use a pop-up blocker, so we don’t have to deal with that. However, the TripAdvisor emails were pretty constant (as in almost every day). A while ago, we decided to block those too. You can do that in your Account Info tab, then go to Settings, then go to Subscriptions. Also, Facebook and Trip Advisor share a lot of information between them about you (all of those “helpful” TripAdvisor ads and reminders while you are on Facebook). You can cut down on some of that TripAdvisor marketing by disconnecting your Facebook and Tripadvisor account (under your account settings tab). Personally, I find the way TripAdvisor “remembers” what I was looking at before to be incredibly unhelpful. If I research something one time, I keeps showing up for me (in some cases months or even years later).

  27. do not ignore all the people with less than 100 posts! I have a separate account for my 1 star reviews becasue i do not want my business known to everyone if something really bad happens to me while travelling. I do not want my 79 year old father to know I was sexually harassed. A lot of people do what I do because they travel sola especially women, and their families worry;or for other reasons maybe they do not want to be associated with negativity. So do not ignore NEGATIVE reviews from people with 1 or 2 reviews-positive yes-negative no. Take care I hope you post my rant about how horrible the moderators are who are ALSO the same people who sit around all day on the forums responding rudely to new members. They are SO rude it is unbelievable. Not helpful just rude narcissists getting supply out of denigrating people and blaming them for being scammed. SO obnoxious and disgusting!

  28. I’ve been a sporadic TA user for years, without understanding the nuts and bolts of the business that this article provides info on (thanks for this detail, btw). A recent hut-to-hut mt biking experience in Colorado prompted me to write a review. TA asked me to revise it based on their policies — they won’t accept quoted material in reviews. I revised it x3, softening it each time. I’ve not heard back from TA x3 so I they apparently won’t accept it however soft I make it . At issue is mouse infestations in 3 of the 4 huts I stayed in. One in particular I had mice running over my body waking me up throughout the night. I’m not an infectious disease specialist, but I can do research and learned that my son and I have about a 15% chance of having been exposed to Hantavirus, a disease which has a 36-38% mortality rate. The business brushed off my concerns with “we can’t control mother nature” and “that’s why we have people sign a liability waiver”. And nobody reading TA reviews on this business will know this. So now I know that TA doesn’t want to hurt businesses reliant on them, and likely many businesses have learned that TA can help protect their negligences.
    I don’t trust TA reviews in terms of health and safety, and now much more. I’m unlikely to trust it beyond what your article proposes. Oh, and if you’re ever mountain biking hut-to-hut in Colorado, watch out for the mice.

    1. Growing up in Colorado, this is a fact of life. However, most reputable companies in Colorado also make such things known to guests. But you are correct, this is EXACTLY the kind of information that TripAdvisor would filter out. Because of selective publishing practices, it truly is buyer beware.

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