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Most Provocative OpenThread of 2012: Are Hotels Abusing TripAdvisor?

December 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

It's that time of year again: the 2012 HotelChatter Awards! Today and Monday, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...

Last January, after reading a story about an Irish hotel staff being instructed to post fake reviews online, we posed the question: "Have You Ever Been Bullied Into Writing A Positive TripAdvisor Review?".

Unsurprisingly, you all had plenty to say about the issue. What surprised us, however, was how long the debate has endured.

Fast forward to this month, when a similar incident took place, this time in Dallas, TX, where some genius employee had the idea of offering customers cash rewards in exchange for nice reviews on TripAdvisor.

On the one hand, we can kind of sympathize with the hotels, who are really just desperate for positive feedback (that future guests will then hopefully read). But on the other, we're frustrated that the online reviews we once trusted are seeming less and less reliable.

One commenter (a hotelier) called it "regrettable but a necessity" for hotels to solicit positive feedback from guests, while another admitted to asking guests to post reviews online, but noted, "I don't use the word "positive" and I don't give rewards." If only they could all be so upright...

Of course, it works both ways. Another commenter pointed out:

"There is also the question of guests that also use "TripAdvisor" as a threat, a way of bullying hotel to heed to their will and basically [getting] everything for free."

Meanwhile, we're also reminded of an LA Times article published last month that challenged the reliability of online hotel reviews. This prompted yet another OpenThread, and yet more comments:

"I use TripAdvisor as a guide.  The volume of reviews is what helps.  Of course, I have stayed at a hotel or two based on TripAdvisor reviews and been disappointed.

TripAdvisor is not where you should look first.  But, it is still worth a look."

Clearly, this issue has not yet been put to rest. So we ask, once more, do you agree?

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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