TripAdvisor.com reviews portal, which many people consider to be the model in its niche, and which is daily visited by 45 million people, is in the center of the scandal. U.S. Advertising standards agency ASA launched an investigation in response to the complaints from users and the tourism industry specialists that the portal began to post fake reviews about hotels, villas and restaurants, reports British newspaper Daily Mail.
The proceedings had been initiated after the complaint, where was mentioned that volumes of biased and distorted information in reviews reached "epidemic" level.
According to Chris Emmins, director of the KwikChex.com company, which is engaged in the research of business reputation, about 5 million reviews posted on TripAdvisor.com can be custom-made or counterfeit.
Chris Emmins spent 8 months to thoroughly study reviews published by TripAdvisor.com. The analysis revealed that, perhaps, almost half of the 50 million reviews on TripAdvisor.com were published a year or more ago and are outdated.
The company KwikChex.com notes that it received about 2,000 complaints from the business communities and ordinary users, who expressed their indignation about the exceptionally low-quality content on TripAdvisor.com.
The bulk of negative and prejudicial reviews are about small hotels, which often do not have enough money for legal suits with the authors of the false feedbacks.
"Black PR" through feedbacks seriously affects the reputation of many small hotels. At the moment there are several hotels, which bankrupted as a result of "custom" reviews.
The other side is laudatory odes that hotels write for themselves, or encourage their guests to write it, promising additional bonuses before they check in.
As for the administration of TripAdvisor.com, here the main stumbling stone is the reluctance of the owners of the popular site to deal with fake reviews. Owners discuss in forums that the administration of TripAdvisor.com refused to remove fake reviews even when they were proved to be fictitious.
As a result, ASA investigation is aimed at finding out, is the slogan of TripAdvisor.com that site publishes "honest reviews from real travelers" true.