TripAdvisor under fire for ‘unfair’ reliance on older customer reviews

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

L’Atelier: uses TripAdvisor as a key information point to improve the dining experience
L’Atelier: uses TripAdvisor as a key information point to improve the dining experience

Related tags: Better

TripAdvisor has defended its popularity ranking system after a Michelin-starred restaurant claimed that older reviews are harming the reputation of businesses.

The reviews website claimed accurate representations were its top priority, following the accusation by Peggy Li, marketing and communications manager at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, in London’s Covent Garden.

Li claimed that restaurants such as L’Atelier use TripAdvisor as a key information point to improve the dining experience.

However, she was concerned that despite improvements and hard work, the ranking of restaurants could still be affected from earlier poor reviews.

This means many restaurants, particularly independent ones, are stuck with a poor rating that does not reflect the reality of what diners are experiencing in the here and now, Li suggested.

Weighting system

Li acknowledged that while TripAdvisor does claim to add some weighting to ‘recent’ reviews for the popularity rating, it also adds huge weight to the quantity and quality of reviews left.

“Therefore, it is inevitable that when a restaurant is not doing as well, more people will write reviews about it and when it is doing well, arguably, less will be left,” she explained.

“This makes the ‘weighting’ given to the recency of reviews less helpful to restaurants who have managed to make admirable improvements having previously experienced trickier times,” Li added.

In response, TripAdvisor spokesperson James Kay said that the average TripAdvisor user reads dozens of reviews before making a decision, and the volume of reviews on the site allows consumers to get a full picture of the place they are researching.

“That’s why it is important that older reviews remain on the site,” he explained. “The age of reviews is already one of the key factors used to determine our popularity index, alongside quality and quantity. As such, the older a review is the less impact it will have on a property’s ranking.”

Positive reviews

Kay also believed there was little evidence to suggest that positive reviews are harder to come by than negative ones.

He said “We often hear from hoteliers and restaurateurs how much TripAdvisor has helped their business both in terms of generating business but also managing and improving the quality of the service they offer.

“The average review rating on TripAdvisor on properties has increased every year in the last 10 years and now stands at four out of five.”

Despite this, Li claimed it was time TripAdvisor considered pressing the ‘refresh button’ on its ranking system.

She said: “While customers should, of course, be able to give honest feedback about their experiences, after some time these must be deemed as not relevant any longer.”

Li added: “Instead, if the ranking is based only on reviews from within a year, then browsers of TripAdvisor will be getting more accurate information and their experience of restaurants will bear relevance to what they have read and seen on TripAdvisor.

“It’s a win-win for restaurants and diners alike.”

Related topics: Business, Venues

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