Customer feedback is highly essential in ascertaining the overall reputation and goodwill of a business. Hence reviews play a pivotal role in helping the business prosper. Whether you are a hotel or any other business, your reputation over the OTA is extremely important for your customers. One of the biggest players online is TripAdvisor. With over 570 million reviews and 490 million unique visitors, TripAdvisor dominates the search results and user ratings for over 7.3 million hotels, restaurants, and activities around the world, as per its top travel trend report (2017-18).
Since TripAdvisor ranks amongst the highly visited OTA sites, reviews on TripAdvisor have a crucial role to play. Again, a review from one user is likely to influence other customers’ decisions to a great extent. For instance, if someone claims that the property is immaculate and the staff service is excellent, you are likely to be drawn positively towards that comment. On the other hand, if someone complains about the property being grungy and staff incompetent, this will generally be a massive turn off for others. After all, 94% of customers avoided a business based on negative reviews as per the 2018 Survey.
While the first step is to boost your popularity ranking on TripAdvisor to get more reviews, it is equally important to stay away from the negative reviews. Everything that a customer writes about a hotel or any other service, to that matter of fact, may not be accurate. A deliberately crafted negative review bringing ill reputation to a business counts as fraudulent behavior. Hence every owner would be concerned about keeping away from such reviews which might have a stronghold over influencing the customers’ decisions in a negative manner.
Hence, TripAdvisor has its own policy when it comes to dealing with fake reviews, demeaning or defaming a business:
Fake reviews are drafted specifically to defame a business or to simply bring an ill reputation to it with the aim of stunting its growth. However, TripAdvisor categorizes fake reviews in three different categories:
i) Biased, Positive Reviews: Includes the scenario where the reviews are curated by friends, relatives or someone having ties with the business. TripAdvisor has a Zero Tolerance Policy towards the scam reviews as it is believed to be compromising the integrity of this OTA platform. This kind of review boasting is considered illegal as per the norms of TripAdvisor.
ii) Biased, Negative Reviews: Some reviews are compiled solely with the aim of tarnishing a business’s reputation which is often labeled as ‘Vandalism.’ There might be a lot of possible sources behind that: a rival business trying to lower your ranking on the search page or someone blackmailing the business by using negative reviews as a threat.
iii) Paid Reviews: Sometimes a business might be lured to offer incentives to people in exchange for a larger number of good reviews. This kind of ‘Review Optimization’ is strictly prohibited and once again goes against the TripAdvisor policy.
Speaking of that if you spot a fake review on your page, you will be required to flag it. You can report it to TripAdvisor through your Management Center Page.
Here is the Procedure:
○ Click on ‘Reviews’ at the top and select ‘Report a Review.’
○ Under “Please tell us what the issue is” click on the ‘Report Fraud’ option.
○ Under “What do you want to do?” choose your issue type. Choices can be Blackmail Threat, Review Boosting, Review Vandalism, or Review Optimization.
○ You will have to answer two questions. These ask if the review was already posted and if this is the first time you filed a report of the incident.
○ Provide additional information about the reviewer (the month and year of their visit, name, and email address.)
○ Describe the event in detail and as clearly as possible in the text space provided.
[Note: It will take TripAdvisor a few days to process your request and the review will be removed only if the feedback is found to be genuine.]
TripAdvisor does actively try to combat the fake review problem. It uses a tracking system that is supposed to identify patterns and other signs of fake reviews, like if the same IP address is used to post several reviews of the same business.
1. Post a Public Response Even to a Fake Review
The reason behind doing this is that it creates trust and lets the potential customers know that you can handle even the negative criticism well. Again, prompt action shows that you are committed to customer service.
This is how you can reply to a fake or spam review:
Hi (the reviewer’s name),
We thank you for posting your review and at the same time, we apologize for any dissatisfaction that you might have experienced. Unfortunately, we do not have any recollection or record of a customer experience befitting this account. Again, we apologize that we are unable to verify anything about your identity from your name in our records. We take these issues very seriously and we humbly request you to contact our executive (name) immediately at (email address) to allow us to look into this matter and resolve it immediately if you were a client of ours.
(Name), General Manager
In a nutshell,
• Verify your records.
• Thank the customer and respond to the review (Yes, even if it’s fake)
• Address the complaint and apologize for the dissatisfaction they might have experienced.
• State that you can’t seem to trace them in your records or are unable to verify their identity.
• Offer them to reach out to you by providing your contact details.
• Once you’re convinced that the review is fraudulent, report or flag it!
2. Amplify the Positive Responses
Since your bubble rating is determined both by the quality and quantity of reviews you receive on TripAdvisor, focus on getting more positive reviews which will eventually help to drown the odds against you.
3. Use an Automation Tool to Help you Streamline the Process
Fake reviews are generally negative in nature drafted with the intention of driving the traffic away from you. So while TripAdvisor should be trusted for its part, on your part it is best that you focus on implementing strategies that will help you fetch more positive reviews.