According to the Daily Mail, hotels aren’t the only ones to blame for fake reviews on TripAdvisor. Is it surprising these accusations have been made? No. Do the accusations have any basis in reality? Almost definitely. Should you be upset other travellers are engaging in this type of behaviour? You bet. TripAdvisor is the most popular destinations and accommodation website in America. For many people, it is the first place they go to research a travel destination, or activity.
I know what you’re thinking, “TripAdvisor is already full of fake reviews, who cares if there are a few more?” Ok, granted the Advertising Standards Agency is investigating the site, and granted one estimate suggests 20% of current reviews on TripAdvisor are fake. Maybe you’ve already given up on TripAdvisor, but that’s not really the point.
Whether TripAdvisor is the best destination research site in the world, or a useless propaganda machine for hoteliers is irrelevant. People use sites like TripAdvisor because they trust fellow travellers more than they trust photos on a hotel website, or a few flowery paragraphs in a hotel pamphlet. If you can’t trust your fellow travellers for destination information, who can you trust? That is the issue. If travellers start posting fake reviews on TripAdvisor and other sites, suddenly the ability to discover relevant, trustworthy information online grows increasingly difficult. That’s a problem for all travellers—including the blackmailers.