Can You Trust TripAdvisor’s Hotel Reviews?

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Hotels are gaming the system and leading you astray.

Do you trust the hotel reviews you read online? A new survey by the consumer organization Which? may make you think twice about who you rely on for hotel recommendations. Upon investigation, they found that one in seven of the top-ranked hotels and tourist destinations on the popular review site TripAdvisor had “blatant hallmarks” of fake reviews designed to push them to the top of the ranking list. What’s even more upsetting is that when Which? pointed this out to TripAdvisor, they knew that several of the hotels had fake reviews—and that TA had deleted the red penalty badges placed there to warn travelers that reviews were being investigated.

This isn’t the first time that the veracity of Trip Advisor’s reviews have come into question. Back in March of this year, TripAdvisor found itself in the news again when it deleted reviews that detailed a rape at one of the resorts on their site. If you’re freaked out to discover that you can’t trust everything on the internet, well, welcome to the internet. While you get acclimated we’ve got some tips on how to make sure that you can put your faith in the hotel reviews that you’re reading.

How to Spot a Fake Hotel Review

We’ll start with the bad news. You’re bad at being able to tell the difference between a good review and a bad review. We all are. Cornell University even did a study about it. But, despite our shortcomings as a species, there are a couple of ways to tell whether you’re really headed to an amazing 2-star resort or if that’s just what the fake reviews want you to believe.

Pay Attention to the Language

According to Cornell University’s study on the matter, fake reviews focus more on experiences and use a lot of exaggerated language: “The rooms were HEAVENLY, we had an unbelievably good time. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more!!” The reason they focus on experiences, says the study, is that nothing about the hotel itself prompted the review. They may not have even visited the property they’re “reviewing.”

Good hotel reviews mention lots of specifics about the property because they were written by people who’ve been there and know what other readers want to know. But, it won’t be long before some unscrupulous fake-review content farm emulates that pattern too. So, we have another useful piece of advice.

Find a Trustworthy Source

Not all hotel review sites delete controversial reviews or hide information. One way to find out if a site is trustworthy is to comparison shop. If the hotel you’re reading gives glowing reviews for a property that’s universally panned on every other site, then there’s a good chance that you’ve encountered a review site that doesn’t prune out fake reviews like they should.

Another way to find a trustworthy source is to skip third-party aggregators like TripAdvisor that just gather reviews without vetting them first and opt for a site that is invested in the travel industry and cares about finding all the great places in the world and directing readers to them. Like Fodor’s Travel. Are we tooting our own horn? Sure. But we’ve been in the travel industry for 80 years which is a tune we don’t mind playing.

And, we only accept hotel reviews from reviewers who can verify that they’ve stayed at the property. And we’re not afraid to tell you if a property isn’t great or what beaches you should avoid. But don’t just take our word for it. Check out our Hotel Reviews for yourself, comparison shop and enjoy our short and sweet reviews that are free of hyperbole.