With TripAdvisor recently announcing that a huge half a billion reviews has been left on its site, I recalled the review site has also been in the news for much more negative reasons lately. And got me thinking, how fair and honest is TripAdvisor?
I personally do love TripAdvisor as a traveller, foodie and control freak; I always plan my trips out anywhere I go and TripAdvisor is a must before I step out the door because it’s not worth risking it if it’s only got majority bad reviews.
I also enjoy leaving reviews on places I have visited and I am usually very generous and nice with my words because I have fortunately never had a really truly awful experience somewhere, unlike when you read these customers comments who have asked for a ‘well done steak and it coming back still with a pulse’. So, I always thought of TripAdvisor as a really positive, clever concept of an idea. It’s nice to be nice, right? My stats say I am in the top 25% of reviewers in my area… go me!
However… I am not a hospitality business owner. And it seems that they think much differently about TripAdvisor as it’s come into light in recent news that they want a better, more efficient system putting into place on the review site in regards to proving a customer actually stayed or visited the establishment they are reviewing. Also the business owners are fighting back defending their much-loved businesses when people are unfair. Their main argument is why can’t the customer speak to the manager or make a complaint in person at the time? Instead of running home and complaining to half a billion people hiding behind a computer screen.
When the half a billion reviews news came out on a post on Travel Daily, Stephen Kaufer, the chief executive and co-founder of TripAdvisor said: “Since launching 17 years ago, TripAdvisor has revolutionized the travel industry by creating an environment where consumers can share honest opinions of their experiences and where businesses can see the rewards of achieving consistently high standards of service and value from the community,”
The word ‘honest’ sticks out like a sore thumb for me in the above statement after all, can’t someone exaggerate a little when talking about something? We have all done it, and I bet many people exaggerate or even lie about things from the way a staff person spoke to them or the cleanliness of the toilets, just to be a pain. I actually know for a fact that people can lie about their experiences as I have worked in customer service and I have read reviews left from customers I dealt with and they’ve made things up to make their experience seem a lot worse than it actually was, just to have a good old moan and also because (which makes me so angry) they think they will get something free out of it for complaining, whether that be a free meal or a voucher off their next order).Or they just get a kick out of being mean.
It’s not only the liars and moaner’s that must be a hinderance to the hospitality owners but those nit-picky customers who just tear apart at anything they can get their hands on, who can be bothered to live a life so negative? These people are leaving 1 star reviews for a skirting board not being freshly painted without thinking of the consequences of how this may affect the business of the people who are trying to run a successful business, pay employees wages, keep staff happy, keep customers happy, pay the bills to run the business and earn money along the way. You don’t know what financial trouble they may be in, how many hours they have to work a week for the general public to enjoy their services, especially these family run hotel owners who let you into their own homes. Those are the ones I feel for when people are mean on TripAdvisor as your rating their home, their life, their job.
In addition to the ignorant customers comes the risk of fake anonymous reviews being made. The focus being on competitors – with the UK restaurant market value being £52bn for 2017 there is a lot of competition out there.
Apparently TripAdvisor have sophisticated techniques in place that detects fraud and patterns. Yet bogus reviews keep getting posted. Research shows that some marketing agencies are being paid to leave bad reviews on competitors by clients.
There is also the case of getting your friends and family to leave a 5 star review even if they haven’t visited the facility. So it works both ways.
One thing I have always thought though, how fair is rating something 1-5. I myself have left reviews and done 4 star when I have had a great time, got what I expected maybe thought there was something missing possibly, but not quite sure what so left 4 when it maybe should have been 5. And I have read great comments from other people and they’ve only left 3 star. I’s just too easy to pick a number based on a few facts. One small thing could over shadow someones whole experience when the rest was great making them review about the one small bad thing without really thinking about the rest.
The good thing is that the establishments can write back to people who leave reviews whether it’s hopefully for them saying ‘thank you for your kind review, we hope to see you again’ or ‘your review is complete utter rubbish and lies, you won’t be getting a free meal voucher for complaining’.
And it is great to boost the businesses level of service, for the businesses to learn how to develop and create a better customer experience, learn that something on the menu might need changing, that the cleaner isn’t doing a very good job at cleaning the sinks in the ladies toilets, that it took them 20 minutes to be asked what drinks they would like, the pillows in the hotel were really uncomfortable and need changing. They find things out they may never have known without TripAdvisor.
People’s opinions are all different, we are all free to speak of our opinion and nobody is right and nobody is wrong and it’s great we have so many platforms now to share our opinions, reviews and experiences to the rest of the world.
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