TripAdvisor responds to critics

We read with interest an article in this week’s the article about our client TripAdvisor.

There are a number of inaccuracies in the article we wish to respond to:

TripAdvisor democratised the travel industry. The company was built on three key principles: to give travellers a voice and place to share their experiences, to promote transparency in the travel industry, and to create a level playing field for travel businesses to reach travellers, regardless of size. These principles continue to be the lifeblood of our company.

Nothing is more important to us than the authenticity of our reviews. We have a world-class international team of specialists who spend 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, making sure our reviews are real. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site. We have more than 60 million visitors to the site monthly and more than 32 million registered members globally. People continue to join and visit TripAdvisor in increasing numbers because of the usefulness that the traveller reviews and opinions provide.

According to a recent PhoCusWright study commissioned by TripAdvisor*, 98% of respondents have found TripAdvisor hotel reviews to be accurate of the actual experience. 92% of respondents agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews “Help me pick the right hotel for my travel needs”.

As demonstrated by this article, a common misconception is that reviewers only post on TripAdvisor to complain. This couldn’t be less true. The majority of reviews submitted on TripAdvisor are in fact positive with the average rating for Australian hotels on TripAdvisor currently just under 4 (out of 5). Also, according to a PhoCusWright study* the top three reasons why consumers write hotel reviews on TripAdvisor are: ‘I feel good about sharing useful information with other travellers’ (78%), ‘I wanted to share a good experience with other travellers’ (74%), ‘I feel that I am part of TripAdvisor’s travel social community’ (53%).

We understand the importance that the reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor have to properties and businesses listed on the site. TripAdvisor has been monitoring tens of millions of reviews submitted over the past decade, and as a result, we can identify patterns of suspicious activity by utilising sophisticated filters and behavioural modelling to scan reviews. We monitor and evaluate hundreds of different attributes associated with electronic correspondence, such as IP address, the type of browser being used and even screen resolution of the reviewer’s device. Suspicious activity is then flagged to our investigations team of dedicated agents who use a variety of additional confidential investigative methods designed to identify potential fraud.

We have a world-class international team of nearly 100 content specialists. This team is able to work in all 21 languages that we support on our global sites. The team has a wide range of fraud detection backgrounds, from a range of industries, and utilise sophisticated data mining, visualization and analytic tools to uncover trends and patterns of abuse.

As well as our automated tools, we encourage our community of travellers and businesses alike to report any content they feel is suspicious or inappropriate. Every single report is investigated by the team above and any review found to be in breach of our policies will be taken down immediately.

We take our responsibility as the world’s largest travel site extremely seriously and fully appreciate that TripAdvisor has a significant impact on the travel industry. For the last 12 years we have been empowering business owners and brands by giving them a powerful, free platform to promote their business to millions of travellers. TripAdvisor also plays a significant and positive role in improving customer service standards across the travel industry.

Of the 1.8 million businesses listed on the site, the vast majority are extremely happy, in fact, we are contacted every day from businesses around the world and we are told that favourable reviews on TripAdvisor directly and dramatically improve bookings. By following basic principles, businesses can – and do – use such sites such as TripAdvisor to enormous advantage.

Allegations of blackmail or threatening behaviour by guests against property owners are taken very seriously by TripAdvisor. Not only is it strictly against our guidelines, but it may also be illegal in many jurisdictions. If an owner experiences this, we urge them to contact us immediately and our content integrity team will investigate. We recommend that owners contact us via the Management Centre, on the TripAdvisor site (, using the links provided to ensure that their queries are channelled to the teams that are best equipped to deal with their enquiry as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For all published reviews, we also strongly encourage owners to give their side of the story by posting a management response to reviews on their property. This gives the business the last word and allows users to read both sides of the story before making a decision on whether a property is right for them. We strongly encourage business owners to take advantage of this feature, so their voice can be heard as well.

According to a recent research by PhoCusWright, commissioned by TripAdvisor*, 84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel” and 78% of users agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews “makes me believe that it cares more about its guests”.

We have received a lot of feedback from business owners listed on the site. We agreed we could do better at some things, so we are in the process of developing our global customer care team so that businesses can reach us more easily. We will continue to engage with associations like the Accommodation Association of Australia on how we may improve the site or better engage with Australian hospitality businesses.

*According to a September 2012 PhoCusWright survey of 2,739 respondents. Participants for the study were solicited at random through a pop-up invitation link on

Read the original article: The Sinister Side of TripAdvisor

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