Fake reviews on TripAdvisor

Nicolas Tavern

Nicolas Tavern

TripAdvisor has its use, but its utility and credibility will be as nought if it fails to root out fake reviews.

The founder of TripAdvisor claims they have a top secret algorithm to eliminate fake reviews. This is nonsense as it is clearly not working, and it is doubtful such an algorithm could exist.

I have become quite adapt at spotting fake reviews because they stick out like a sore thumb.

There are three types of fake reviews

  • trolls spewing their venom
  • rival dishing the competition
  • proprietors generating glowing reviews

You can always tell a good place, they love what they are doing, they take a pride in what they are doing.

Nicolas Tavern, for several years, No 1 on TripAdvisor, then a few fake reviews, one so over the top that it was laughable, dropped to No 10. I am pleased to say a few good reviews and now up at No 4.

The food at Nicolas Tavern is excellent, sometimes the service a little slow when busy, but what is the hurry?

Until this summer I had not eaten at The Keystone since last year. Reviews were bad. Had it changed hands? I asked the question when I ate there this summer. No it had not changed hands, and yes they were aware of the bad reviews, which they put down to either trolls or rivals dishing them out of jealousy.

My lunch was excellent, as I expected it to be. I have eaten there several times this year and each time the food has been excellent. Yes, the service is at times iffy, and yes The Keystone are aware of this.

Last week I found a lovely coffee shop in Godalming. The people running Café Mila were knowledgeable about where they sourced from, loved what they were doing. Two negative reviews stuck out like sore thumbs as they bore no resemblance to reality. What was even more interesting is that both reviewers were located in Godalming and for each reviewer it was their only review. These bad reviews were not only negative, they were hate-filled vitriolic attacks. Rivals dishing?

At the weekend I was in Alton and popped my head in O’Connor’s Secret Garden. A charming restaurant, a lovely garden out the back, regulars greeted as old family friends, Peter O’Connor an excellent chef. O’Connor’s Secret Garden one of the best places to eat in Alton, and yet, two extremely negative and vicious reviews, even the lovely little garden attacked.

Chef Heston Blumenthal is the latest to fall victim to trolls. He has been accused of giving diners food poisoning. It happens, things go wrong, and diners do get food poisoning. Not being there and fallen ill I cannot comment on the validity of the claim. I would though add the account of food poisoning does have a ring of truth and does not stand out as a troll.

Glowing reviews, all singing from the same song sheet, then I smell a rat.

Steens, a restaurant where the sign outside was dirty, the entrance was dirty, and the menu outside was typical white van chiller food to be found in every bad pub in England, and yet for a while it was No 1 on TripAdvisor. Knowing that there were far far better restaurants, it was seen as a sick joke by surrounding businesses who told me it was a place to avoid and that proprietor wrote his own reviews. I do not think he did, but the glowing reviews gave every appearance they were being orchestrated. I posted a review noting my observations. It was deleted a few days later.

A pub in Winchester. I would not say it was the worst food I had eaten, but it was not good. I checked later on TripAdvisor. Glowing reviews that bore no resemblance to what I had experienced. All singing from the same song sheet, all saying more or less the same thing, most knew the name of the chef!

Real TripAdvisor Reviews offer to post glowing reviews for $20!

To some extent TripAdvisor is self-policing, fake reviews can be reported, but how often do people report (and there is not sufficient space to explain why), what action is being taken?

But even where the review is genuine, there is the problem of competence. Would someone who eats at KFC or McDonald’s be comment to review restaurants?

We should also recognise that bad hoteliers, bad restaurateurs deserve bad reviews (that is what reviews are for), and they will be the first to complain. If they do not like it, the answer is simple, improve your service.

If I visit a bad place, I will not hesitate to say so, but it will be a factual account of why it is bad, not an exercise in hate.

Wikipedia lacks any credibility because no knowledge of the subject is required to edit a page.

If TripAdvisor fails to get its act together, it will be like Wikipedia, lacking in any credibility.

I know restaurants who are thinking of pulling out of TripAdvisor (if that is possible) due to the negative impact of fake reviews.

Top Story in Vacation Nation (Monday 3 September 2012).

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3 Responses to “Fake reviews on TripAdvisor”

  1. agadir holidays Says:

    some people really write fake reviews and when a company complain they dont even move , but when it’s come to an excellent review they delete it quickly
    thanks for the post

    Sud Aventures Tours

  2. keithpp Says:

    I have highlighted numerous fake reviews.

    If you check out Nicolas Tavern on TripAdvisor, you will find the fake reviews appear to be orchestrated by a rival restaurant for which the fake reviewer posts a glowing review. Then check out the reviews for that restaurant, and you find everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Locally it is seen as a joke that this restaurant gets glowing reviews.

    TripAdvisor lacks any credibility when it fails to deal with fake reviews.

  3. VIETNAM TRAVEL TOURS (@vtatours) Says:

    How i can contact with you about fake review ???my skype:michaelmanh

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