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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.