If you are a regular reader of HospitalityMarketingBlog.com you know I’m a raving fan of TripAdvisor.  With over 20 million reviews there’s hardly any guest who enters the door of a luxury hotel who hasn’t first read about the property on TripAdvisor.

The TripAdvisor Home Page proudly boasts, “more than 15,000,000 travelers from 190 countries planned trips here this week.” An astonishing statement.  Adding weight to this is word-of-mouth impact.  Research shows consumers believe reviews read online almost as much as they do personal recommendations from friends and relatives.

While many hospitality marketing professionals and travel agents don’t care for TripAdvisor (how’s that for PC?), our clients embrace it.  Through a series of proactive, custom-tailored strategies each hotel actively manages TripAdvisor and encourages guests to post reviews.  We treasure every TripAdvisor review – especially those with 5-Stars (or 5-Owls as TA refers to them).

But here’s what gets my goat.  And the only reason I’m bringing it up is it’s happened a couple of times now.

A guest writes an absolutely glowing review of a property and rates everything 5-Stars – Service, Value, Location, etc.  But in posting the review at the end they make an obvious mistake and rate the hotel as 1-Star.  The first time this happened customer support was contacted and asked to simply correct the guest’s mistake and change it to 5-Stars which was obviously what the guest intended.

Instead of making the change, a few days later the review disappeared!

This happened again recently for another hotel.  Instead of contacting customer support an email was sent to management. It explained the situation as well as what had happened previously and asked them to please make the correction to 5-Stars.  A couple of days later the review disappeared!

When I post a golf score that’s well outside my normal range (usually higher) the computer informs me it looks like a mistake and asks me if I want to change it.  With all their technological prowess, you’d think a similar fix would be simple for TripAdvisor.

Then I could rave about TripAdvisor all the time.

What do you think?  Safe travels – Madigan Pratt

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AUTHOR: Madigan Pratt
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  • Hi Madigan,

    I’m glad that we almost always make you happy, but I’m afraid that this is one area where we’re just going to have to continue to disagree.

    What you’re describing — changing the rating on a user-contributed review from a one to a five — would amount to TripAdvisor’s editing a user review. We do not edit reviews. We don’t edit for grammar or spelling, and we’d never change a rating, even when it appears that a traveler unfortunately misunderstood our forms.

    As always, it’s great to hear your thoughts, even when we disagree. Your blog continues to be one of my favorite bookmarks.

    Best regards,

    Brian Payea
    Trade Relations Manager

    June 4, 2009
  • Madigan Pratt

    Thanks Brian,
    Was hoping you’d weigh in. I can understand TripAdvisor not wanting to edit a reviewer’s post. But what about the automated pop-up asking a reviewer if they’d like to change their overall rating?
    The pop-up would only appear when someone gives 4.0 or 5.0 ratings to Service, Value, Rooms, Cleanliness and Location, but mistakenly gives a property and overall rating of 1.0. Would easier for them to correct their mistake right then vs. having to write another review (which probably never happens).
    Food for thought. Keep up the good work.

    June 4, 2009
  • Great post about a topic of interest to me and also a good response. I agree with both, of course, I am Swiss!
    But seriously, the value and influence factor of user reviews is no longer in doubt on either side of the debate about fairness, potential abuse etc. that has been going on since the inception of review sites, especially TripAdvisor.

    What Madigan describes are obvious errors that should be possible to correct as they can hurt a property. For TripAdvisor to start editing reviews would make their value drop immediately and I understand their reluctance to do so. After all, they don’t have a dog in the hunt and any review is fine with them and they do seem to focus on those review being correct.

    I like the suggestion made for a feature that would alert the reviewer of obvious errors or contradictions and this would not be editing at all but improving the system. Should be implemented. It would not bring Madigan’s golf score down but that’s not the issue, right?

    As for those who still rant about review sites and try to fight them, I can only say get on board and start conducting business in a way suited to the 21st century and total transparency. The sooner you do the more successful you will become. If not, you probably shouldn’t be in business at all.

    June 4, 2009
  • The real problem is that there is no social control: I mean, I don’t know the authors of the reviews and they don’t know me. Why not rely on your friends instead?


    February 19, 2010
  • I have a question about tripadvisor why would they drop 45 reviews from our site Edgewood Manor Bed and Breakfast in Cranston RI or allow 45 reviews disappear from our tripadvisor site…….. we used to have 99 or so reviews now we have 54???? When you try and contact tripadvisor we get no response. Just wondering if tripadvisor might be able to respond in this forum? Just curious about that……. Richard Owner of Edgewood Manor Bed and Breakfast

    February 20, 2010
  • Shiv

    I would have to agree with Madigan that I hate Tripadvisor sometimes. I am sure it is difficult for Tripadvisor to manage the reviews and their quality as they say “more than 15,000,000 travelers from 190 countries planned trips here this week.”
    I used to use Tripadvisor as my travel Bible till recently. Being a part of the hotel industry I have learnt to rely on other websites other than tripadvisor. Yes, after a long time, the consumer is able to go online and check reviews about a hotel or their service, but how many are authentic? While I worked for a hotel, I recall a number of guests telling us how they had posted reviews about us that did not appear. Taking a computers IP Number is not helping maintaining honestly. What happens when 2 guests write 2 different reviews from the same computer they used at the Hotel’s business center? I feel tripadvisor will use the bad review and throw out the good one! That’s how I have started feeling about this website, I can not give them the benefit of the doubt!!
    As management when we reported abuse about a review Tripadvisor never did anything to resolve it, or even to assist us with it. I am not saying that every bad review is a fake review, but are they allowed to ruin a hotels’ business with such carelessness? The impact Tripadvisor has on a hotel today is immense, in fact it is so much that some hotelier feel bullied by them. I think they need to review their system and allow people to write reviews after they have booked a hotel through them or through expedia, their concern website to make sure people writing reviews have actually stayed in these places. Tripadvisor has some authentic experiences but sometimes it acts like a battle field between two or more rival hotels. The people losing out on a real deal are the consumers who are looking and following these ratings to book a hotel. not knowing more than half of the reviews are useless! I wish they would know better!

    December 23, 2011

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