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Does Trip Advisor Have Too Much Power?

The other day while leaving our hotel we were pulled aside by the manager. Very politely he asked us if we would be sure to leave a review on Trip Advisor to help his business.

But it didn’t end there.

In return, he promised to give us free lunch the next day as well as many treats to take with us as we had a long train ride ahead. He asked for not only one review, but that each one of us left one, and of course, that it was excellent.

We just politely nodded our heads and carried on – what does one do in that situation anyways?

That same day, we received an email from a hotel. We had asked if we could leave our bags at their hotel while we waited for our train, and in exchange we would be happy to pay a small fee, as we were not guests at the hotel.

They had a different deal in mind and offered to let us store our bags at their hotel in exchange for a “small, intangible fee”.

A review on Trip Advisor.


Lastly, a recent tour we went on also stressed the importance of leaving a review on Trip Advisor. That is was integral to their business. Moreover, they showed us their page, and pointed out (legitimately I might add) that the one negative review they had received was from a competing business in the same city (after having checked IP addresses). It was clear that business were sabotaging other business by leaving fake, negative Trip Advisor reviews. One can only imagine that the reverse is true as well (fake positive reviews from friends).

The above may sound pretty seedy, and it is, but to some degree you almost can’t blame them too much. Sure, bribery should never be condoned, but business is a dog eat dog world and the fact of the matter is if they don’t produce the good reviews they don’t get the business, even if they are a good business.

Does the ends justify the means?

Or, perhaps the larger question is –

Why have we allowed ourselves to let one website, with so many clear flaws and loop holes, dominate?

Sadly enough, I have heard similar stories of other travel power houses like Lonely Planet and Yelp. I suppose, whenever there is a review system, someone will find a way to exploit it. Maybe that’s just the way of the world?

Either way, it’s a good lesson to always hold some degree of skepticism, both with the positive and the negative.


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9 Responses to Does Trip Advisor Have Too Much Power?

  1. I think the site started out to be altruistic, but as it has grown I think it has lost a bit of credibility. There are even many fake reviews on Amazon too. One has to really read in between the lines to decipher what’s real or not. To answer your question, the site does have a lot of pull, but I just take the info with a grain of salt.

    Mig November 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM Reply
    • I suppose it’s to be expected, and to some degree the good outweighs the bad – perhaps there is no perfect solution?

      Dave and Vicky November 23, 2013 at 1:23 AM Reply
  2. For all the good that these type of crowd-sourcing review sites can bring, whether it’s Trip Advisor, Yelp or the others, they are ripe for abuse.
    Angie’s list is addressing it by requiring you to be a paid subscriber, but that’s not a solution for most of these sites.
    As consumers, all we can really do it take every review with a grain of salt, and look for businesses with many reviews, hoping that more reviews weed out the few. 🙂

    Jon Patrick November 22, 2013 at 9:34 AM Reply
    • Great points Jon. I think, as you say, if a business has enough reviews, patterns will start to emerge – that’s the way to go about it.

      Dave and Vicky November 23, 2013 at 1:22 AM Reply
  3. After several negative experiences as well as for some of the reasons mentioned here, I no longer rely on TripAdvisor reviews to figure out where to go for accommodations or food. Though it’s still useful in determining where not to go… Nowadays I much prefer recommendations on travel blogs.

    Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? December 6, 2013 at 10:52 AM Reply
  4. Some of the reviews on Trip Advisor are fake. Even people steal reputation by posting bad reviews.I agree that travel blog is an excellent way because they can check out Facebook page of the blog owners, read more posts about foods, hotels, guides, and many other stuffs. TA is not just good idea like it used to be anymore.

    Raj @ Adventure Bound Nepal December 10, 2013 at 3:22 AM Reply
  5. I believe, fake reviews and sudden agonies are killers to small businesses when it comes to Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews. At times they work as monitors and again as reputation destroyer. The sites have improved a lot regarding fake reviews but there’s a lot yet to be done.

    Puru @ Trekking in Nepal January 6, 2015 at 4:27 AM Reply
    • Completely agree!

      Vicky March 12, 2015 at 12:16 PM Reply
  6. yes tripadvisor has too much power

    Trekking in nepal himalayas August 4, 2015 at 2:11 PM Reply

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