Why you can’t believe website reviews

When I choose a place for my clients to stay I know I can trust the people I work with. As a travel agent I have a network of suppliers and agents who have checked and rated the properties they offer. However some folk will turn to websites such as Tripadvisor and Stayz before they book a property. How they can be sure the reviews on these websites are genuine is something that I have often wondered so I am not surprised to read in today’s Sydney Morning Herald Travel section that ‘Fake Tripadvisor reviewers face legal action‘? After all what is to stop a competitor from posting a bad review? Nothing up until now it seems, but I also discovered that a group of 300 hotels is now taking legal action against the fake reviews.
Even Google allows reviews and who is to know whether they are genuine or not. Obviously hotels can check if the reviewer did actually stay at their establishment and if there were any complaints at the time, but they need to have the right of immediate reply.
When I travel I frequently take time to check out establishment for myself. When I was in Buenos Aires in April, I spent a day visiting and checking out 8 different establishments, apart from the one where I was staying. Armed with camera and a checklist of things I wanted to know that don’t appear in brochures (outside noise, size of bedrooms and bathrooms, ambience of restaurants) it gives me an inside knowledge I can pass onto my clients.
Travel agents would like to see travellers respecting our knowledge of the industry and taking advantage of this knowledge when they book their travel – not just that of any Joe Blow who posts on an internet forum.