BY RODERICK EIME
The peak advertising standards authority in the UK has announced a formal investigation into claims by thousands of disgruntled hoteliers and restaurateurs who assert many TripAdvisor reviews are made up, defamatory or both.
The Expedia-owned, US-based website, widely acknowledged as the world’s most influential hotel rating site, contains around 50 million reviews that are read by the same number of visitors every month. On their website, TripAdvisor claims to post “trusted advice from real travellers” and offer the following reassurance on their site:
“We have a team of moderators that examine questionable reviews. We also use automated tools on the site that help flag questionable content for review, and our large and passionate community of millions of travellers keep an eye out on our site as well.”
UK-based online reputation company, KwikChex.com, has convinced the ASA to begin the formal investigation based on TripAdvisor’s apparent lack of accountability citing that companies are not allowed to use “unverifiable” testimonials on their promotional material.
Chris Emmins, the cofounder of KwikChex.com, said in a statement in The Telegraph (UK): “KwikChex.com believes that such an evaluation is vital because evidence of epidemic levels of abuse, flaws and distortion are being rebutted at present only with standard statements from TripAdvisor repeating clams of diligence and trustworthiness – and the public need to weigh the evidence properly.”
KwikChex.com also plans a similar action with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the USA.
TripAdvisor Media Group has acquired and operates 17 travel brands including TripAdvisor, Airfarewatchdog, BookingBuddy, Cruise Critic, Family Vacation Critic, FlipKey, Holiday Lettings, Holiday Watchdog, Independent Traveler, OneTime, SeatGuru, SmarterTravel, SniqueAway, Travel Library, TravelPod, VirtualTourist and Kuxun.cn.
TripAdvisor declined to comment and at time of writing, the Kwikchex.com website appeared to be offline.
BY RODERICK EIME