Most hotels have accepted by now that creating glowing reviews of their own business is not a wise idea. But what if your property is one of the many businesses unlucky enough to fall victim to malicious fake reviews? Whether they are posted by your competitors or others with a grudge to bear against your resort, fake reviews on TripAdvisor can wreak havoc on your online reputation, even when you’ve done nothing to deserve them.
But striking back against fake reviews needn’t feel like fighting a losing battle. The tips below will help minimise the damage that defamatory words said online can do, without you losing your cool in the process.
Dealing with Fake Reviews on TripAdvisor
A quick Google search on “fake TripAdvisor reviews” returns more than 10 million results. Although the site has developed a reputation as one of the leading sources of reliable, firsthand travel reviews, the unfortunate truth is that anyone can post a review on the platform – from angry past guests to scheming competitors or just internet trolls with too much time on their hands. Worryingly, there is even a whole industry dedicated to creating fake TA reviews for a fee, demonstrating just how easy it is to publish fraudulent reviews – and potentially lots of them - without ever having set foot in your property.
Although TripAdvisor reviews are not vetted for authenticity, being vigilant and quick to take action when a suspicious review appears will help you stay one step ahead of the fakers.
Reporting Fake Reviews to TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor have a team of moderators on the look out for dubious reviews but since many will appear genuine, it’s inevitable that some will slip through the net. However, the company has a clear policy on fraudulency and will look into any suspicious reviews brought to their attention.
To report a fake review, log in to your hotel’s TripAdvisor account and click “Your Business” in the upper right-hand corner, then select “Manage Your Reviews.” Under the “Concerned about a review?” heading, click “See our guidelines and submit your comments.” From here, you can complete a short form to flag the review you are concerned about. Since you have just 500 characters to explain the situation, it’s important to be as concise as possible with the info you submit. With that said, you should take time to point out any inconsistencies in the review and provide TripAdvisor with any evidence you have to support your claim– the company do not have the time or resources to read through a confusing or disjointed argument so you must have a strong case for removal.
Responding to Fake Reviews
Although the ideal solution is for fake reviews to be removed completely, if your removal claim is not taken seriously by TripAdvisor it’s important to defend your hotel’s good reputation with a considered response. Genuine or fraudulent, negative or glowing, it’s always good practice to respond to every review you receive to demonstrate your commitment to customer service and protect your reputation online. When it comes to dealing with malicious fake reviews, you need to be particularly careful how you proceed. Although you may rightly feel like lashing out, leaving an angry or snarky comment may do more harm to your hotel’s reputation than the review itself.
Instead, keep a level head and aim to respond to the review in a way that clarifies the situation to anyone else reading, without coming across as aggressive or accusatory. Eg. “We take guest complaints very seriously. However, we have no record or recollection of any guest experience that matches your story and description; please contact us if you would like to discuss the issue in further detail.” The key is to come across as helpful and matter of fact, rather than adopting the “how dare you?” approach your attackers may be looking for.
Whatever you do, make sure you respond. If you can’t remove a fraudulent review, at least stand up for yourself with your side of the story. By responding swiftly with consistent, calm and clear-headed rebuttals it should be apparent to even casual readers that what you are dealing with is someone with a grudge. Better still, it will send a clear message to anyone else considering a malicious review that you are ready to challenge them.
Has your hotel had to deal with fake or malicious reviews on TripAdvisor? How have you handled the situation? Let us know in the comments below!