Just last week Outside magazine fielded this question: Can I trust the reviews on TripAdvisor?
Their answer: Not always.
TripAdvisor was one of the earlier review sites out there. It’s been around for 14 years and has 170 million reviews of 4 million travel properties and businesses. So they must be a venerable institution, right?
As Outside magazine said, this isn’t exactly the case. In fact, TripAdvisor has gotten in trouble for claiming its reviews come from “real people”. Real people, yes; real customers…not so much.
In fact, someone I know at a big city hotel in the U.S. admitted that when the hotel first opened, the marketing guy had some shady marketing firm add hundreds of reviews for the hotel on TripAdvisor. Within six months they were ranked one of the best hotels in the city on the site thanks to this deception.
Obviously, TripAdvisor isn’t trying to trick anyone. I’m sure they put effort into keeping their reviews honest. But when you have 170 million reviews (that’s over 12 million a year!), it’s hard to stop all the scam artists. And the upside of faking it makes faking it worthwhile. A study of Yelp done by Berkeley economists showed that a half-star improvement on Yelp’s 5-star rating system “makes it 30-49% more likely that a restaurant will sell out its evening seats.” I’m sure there is a similar boost for hotels or any other business that relies on reviews.
A review site overrun with fake reviews is like a restaurant that makes bad food: it serves no purpose. So how can one help to keep reviews honest?
While fake reviews are a concern at GoodMigrations as well, we don’t have to worry about getting inundated with millions of reviews since we only focus on international movers. Because we’re focused we can take the time to audit every review that comes in to make sure it’s legitimate. If it doesn’t pass the audit, it doesn’t get published on the site. (We review the reviews, so to speak). Our commitment to keeping reviews honest is not just to the people out there using GoodMigrations to find movers, but also to the movers working hard to provide the best service to their customers. You can read more about our review process here.