Have You Ever Been Bullied Into Writing a Positive TripAdvisor Review?
During a routine sunrise Twitter-browsing session this morning, we came across this story about employees from the Irish-based Carlton Hotel Group being instructed by their managers to post fake reviews on TripAdvisor. Needless to say, the reviews had to be positive, posted from non-hotel IP addresses, and include photos that were "not professional" but "good quality." Because you've got to be subtle with these things!
Which is impossible to do when said staff memo, which was originally sent by one of Carlton's sales and marketing directors, gets leaked all over the internet. The wily, conniving underbelly of hotel management: exposed!
But this made us think. How many times have you been co-erced (or simply asked) by a hotel to post positive TripAdvisor reviews after your stay? Would a free upgrade or restaurant voucher give you more incentive to say something nice? Or do you generally not make a habit of posting reviews in the first place? We want you to weigh in, fellow lodgers!
The reason we ask is because it's happened to us. As we were checking out of a one-night stay at an unnamed hotel this summer, the Front Desk agent asked if we enjoyed our stay. We said, 'Yeah, sure.' The agent then informed us that if we posted a positive TripAdvisor review when we got home, and emailed him the link, we would get a free upgrade on our next visit.
Hmmm...if we're gonna be working as your PR team, we deserve a little more than an upgrade! In fact, Starwood's solution of filtering all reviews onto their own website—provided they are indeed publishing every single review, not just the positive ones—is not such a bad idea, because it still leaves the forum open.
But rewarding guests' flattery seems a little incestuous to us. N'est-ce pas?