Twitter campaign takes on fake TripAdvisor reviews

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Twitter campaign takes on fake TripAdvisor reviews

Related tags: Tripadvisor, Review

A Twitter campaign calling on TripAdvisor to clamp down on fake online reviews is attracting growing support across the hospitality industry.

The #noreceiptnoreview campaign is asking the site to only allow users to post reviews if they can provide a photo or scan of a receipt.

It follows a growing sense of anger around the exposure of fake endorsements posted online, with a Daily Mail investigation​ uncovering evidence of users taking payment in exchange for reviewing businesses they had never visited.

Restaurant inspector Tom, who prefers to remain anonymous but tweets @EaterWriter, told BigHospitality he had launched the campaign to support business owners and encourage the review site to improve its reputation.

“My drive is that these poor hospitality businesses don’t have a fightback against TripAdvisor and without them the site is nothing,” he said.

“TripAdvisor is driven by its users, people who post and use reviews to decide where to go.

"But online reviews can put a company out of business, and businesses have no ability to switch off the engagement with the site - so surely from an ethical point of view they should have some form of control.”

But TripAdvisor has publicly rejected the idea as being unfair to consumers.

"We believe that every experience counts, not just that of the person who paid the bill," said a TripAdvisor spokesperson.

"If four friends go out to dinner there will be four different opinions, but only the one person with the receipt would be able to leave a review."

The company added that it had ‘sophisticated systems and techniques' in place to detect fraudsters, and imposed strong penalties to deter them.  

However, Tom said that the site was wrong to dismiss the recommendations.

“I think it’s comical,” he said.

“A till these days can print out four receipts if that’s what the customer wants. Or people can just take a photo of it on their phone.”

He added that rather than challenging the idea, TripAdvisor should consider the plan as a means to improve its perception in the industry.

“[TripAdvisor] should be thinking ahead because as the market matures they need to preserve their reputation, and if they don’t do something to improve validity in these reviews they’ll lose the reputation they have fairly quickly," said Tom.

Despite remaining sceptical that his campaign could bring about change in the multi-national company, Tom said he was planning to start a petition in the next few days and wanted the industry to keep using the hashtag #noreceiptnoreview.

“I’m trying to encourage hospitality business owners to take a link from a review on TripAdvisor where they know the review is fictitious, copy the link with my original letter and hashtag and keep it going, because TripAdvisor reviews are very entertaining," he said.

"I want the hashtag to become a place for people to post these reviews.”

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