The comments, made to BigHospitality, came after the Balmedie-based Cock & Bull restaurant said it was considering filing a lawsuit against TripAdvisor, after it failed to respond to calls to remove an allegedly fraudulent and defamatory comment.
The online review site also said it will invest “heavily” in improving its customer service for businesses.
Tackling fraudulent reviews
TripAdvisor claims to have a “zero tolerance” policy on fraudulent reviews, and says it has a system in place to prevent these.
It told BigHospitality that this includes a team of “dozens of quality assurance specialists” who investigate suspicious reviews, along with an Owners Centre that business owners can contact if they wish to raise concerns with a review and have it investigated.
However, Cock & Bull director Mandy Davidson had said the restaurant had tried unsuccessfully to contact TripAdvisor via the avenues provided for over six months, despite enlisting the help of an online reputation management company, KwikChex.
When the restaurant said it was considering filing a lawsuit against the online review site, it reportedly received calls of support from across the hospitality industry, including offers to provide financial backing.
“We have garnered support from all corners of the country over the past couple of days from fellow aggrieved hoteliers and restaurateurs who have suffered the same fate and are frustrated at the lack of communication from TripAdvisor,” said Cock & Bull.
TripAdvisor: plans to improve customer service
Although TripAdvisor would not comment on potential litigation, spokesperson Emma O’Boyle admitted that the group needed to work on its customer service.
“We do accept that in the past we haven’t always offered businesses the best customer service experience and this is something we are investing heavily in with the launch of TripAdvisor for Business, as well as a dedicated customer service team supporting owners,” she said.
Ethos Vs Operation
Cock & Bull said it is prepared to “bear the brunt” of any further criticism it may receive by airing the issue.
“But we are prepared to see this through to a successful conclusion regardless,” it said, adding that it appreciates the support offered by other hospitality businesses.
“Our problem with Tripadvisor runs deeper than anonymous reviewers posting falsehoods, we believe that the process in itself is flawed and open to abuse.
“We have no problem with the ethos of Tripadvisor, merely the operation of the site. By using our restaurant as a venue and name to make money they are effectively entering into a contract with us but are not fulfilling their part of said contract.”
TripAdvisor said it recognises the importance of building on its relationship with the hospitality industry, which is what prompted it to launch its TripAdvisor Advice for Business division last year.
It also says it is present at key trade events throughout the UK and runs free master classes to help owners “get the most from TripAdvisor and raise their concerns”.
Chris Emmins, co-founder of KwikChex, the online reputation management firm working with Cock & Bull on the current TripAdvisor case, said that “legal action of one form or another will go ahead”.
This could take several forms, including:
- Legally inform TripAdvisor that they have defamatory material and under UK laws they are obliged to act
- Identifying the author and taking the action against them
- Persistent posting of malicious and fraudulent material would be reported to police under protection from harassment laws
- Complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
- Requesting removal of material via the Data Protection Act