TripAdvisor Stands By 'Clean Slate' Policy Despite Criticisms from Hotel Watch Groups
Where: Various Locations
Has any other site in the industry gained more attention over the past few years than TripAdvisor? Consumers use it for research, hotels live and die by it, and there's a whole lot of concern about whether anything on the platform can even be trusted.
Although it's been an active policy for two years, the way TripAdvisor deals with hotels who have undergone significant renovations is now just beginning to go under the microscope, further raising questions of trust when it comes to the reviews we see, and apparently don't see, on the site.
Currently, if a hotel can prove it has made structural changes, such as a property overhaul of some kind, it can submit building permits and other construction notices to TripAdvisor in order to get related bad reviews taken off the site.
And the renovations really have to be significant -- putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls won't cut it. For example, if Hotel ABC had a number of bad reviews relating to its out-of-date bathrooms, the hotel can get the reviews removed if it shows they have installed new ones in the rooms. Other major changes, such as buyout or brand overhaul, are also eligible criteria to qualify for a clean slate.
In theory, this sounds pretty straightforward and fair. Why should criticisms that have been genuinely addressed still haunt a hotel? But eyebrows have been raised by hotel watch groups who think this is a slippery slope, pointing out that many poor experiences are the result of human error, not necessarily the property itself. A "dirty room," for example, is a housekeeping issue, but would proof of a room renovation allow the hotel to get such a review removed?
Maybe, maybe not, which means the beat goes on in terms of trust for TripAdvisor. It's the lack of transparency and the internal decision making that creates a gray area, critics say.
Our opinion here is that TripAdvisor needs to communicate. Instead of "wiping the slate clean" and simply deleting reviews, perhaps it could create a dated timeline that reflects changes made to the hotel. This way, consumers can see that the bathrooms were renovated in 2011, and that perhaps all the reviews they see in 2010 about poor water pressure have been addressed. The more info, the better, we say.
We'll keep an eye out to see if TripAdvisor decides to make any renovations themselves. As of now, it has stood by its policy.