Posts Tagged ‘hotels’

Fake reviews on TripAdvisor

September 2, 2012
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).

Hotellino

March 21, 2011
Hotellino

Hotellino

Hotellino is located in the old part of Istanbul. For old read rough. Everything you would wish to see is within easy walking distance – Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Spice Market, Central Market, tramway, the river …

Hotellino is a lovely little hotel, friendly staff. Breakfast consists of simple Middle Eastern fare. Rooms are spacious and clean, but no view other than of a yard. Free water in room. Free internet. Free wi-fi. Fee safe. Free fridge.

Turkish delight for breakfast! And halva too! Delicious walnuts and dried apricots. These I added to my muesli. Large pots of jam, a spoonful went well on toast. There was fresh fruit salad but I missed fresh fruit.

You are spoilt for choice for places to eat for the rest of the day. Try hot chestnuts off the street vendors and fresh grilled mackerel down by the river. An absolute must is fresh crushed pomegranate juice.

The rooms are spacious They lack a decent view, but so what, you have got legs. Plenty of cupboards and drawers. A long glass-topped table with a bench seat which could also serve as a writing desk. Paper and envelopes provided. A notepad and pencil by the bedside.

A very good bathroom. Lovely coconut oil shampoo. The soap had a lovely spicy smell, not the usual sweet scent. But what it was I could not say, and try as I did, I could not find any soap like it.

An electric hairdryer in the bathroom not a good idea.

The bathroom also had a phone!

I was baffled by a window from the bedroom into the bathroom, looking into the shower! Maybe some like to put on show!

Dotted around the lounge were some excellent books on Istanbul.

Passers through leave their books behind for others to share. I suggested Hotellino register as a BookCrossing zone.

Very quiet.

A level of environmental awareness at Hotellino. The paper used was unbleached, lights turned off when you left the room. But polystyrene cups in the rooms! Not pleasant to drink from and very bad for the environment.

I was at a St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Place Hotel and I was given a list of hotels nearby but pleased I did not make the mistake of staying there. A ten Turkish lire taxi ride away from the old part of Istabul and some taxis will try to rip you off with 15 Turkish lire or more.

I looked at two other hotels in the old city, Askin Hotel and Askoc Hotel. They had views of the Mosques and the Bosphorus but bad reviews on Trip Advisor on the other hand Hotellino had excellent reviews and it is easy to see why.

Whereas many hotels especially those owned by faceless corporations take every opportunity to rip you off, with Hotellino it is what can we do to help you? The staff from the manager down are very helpful and friendly. Not the usual plastic smiles.

An ideal hotel for the independent traveller within easy walking distance of places worth visiting and the tram stop and train station are only a few minutes walk away.

A nice touch on my leaving was to be given a pack of Turkish coffee with instructions on how to make.

I was also on leaving handed a large postcard. The front showing a map of the old part of Istanbul and on the back thanking me for my visit and asking that I post comments on Trip Advisor. This I was more than happy to do as I had anyway been intending to post comments on Trip Advisor.