I have reviewed the risks of fake TripAdvisor reviews before and a Fortune story highlights the issue again: A London-based writer created a fake restaurant, marketed it on social media – and it shot up to the Number 1 spot of London restaurants on TripAdvisor. Similar to the ranking of Bangkok’s SkyTrain as a top attraction in town, this should give you pause when using TripAdvisor to plan your trips!
Writer Oobah Butler created a fake restaurant, The Shed at Dulwich, and marketed it with fake photos, a throw-away phone and an air of exclusivity, but without any actual food available. He declined reservations with the excuse of being sold out for 6 weeks, just as a hip & trendy place would be! He eventually revealed the fake and invited guests to frozen dinners at his home, a backyard cottage!
Now, while this prank certainly doesn’t reflect the majority of TripAdvisor reviews, it shows the problem with unverified reviews: Anybody can write a review of a hotel, restaurant or attraction, without actually having been there and there is little that TripAdvisor can do to prevent it! Fake reviews from employees, friends or competitors have haunted TripAdvisor for years, skewing reviews.
I personally still utilize TripAdvisor for hotel review, but I always double-check with other sites, like Trivago or HotelsCombined or the actual site I’ll book with, like Agoda! If there are significant differences, I’m cautious and might skip a hotel I don’t know personally, have received personal recommendations or have seen in-depth reviews from other bloggers about!
I do not recommend using TripAdvisor for attractions or restaurants as I found their recommendations of little use outside the US – as always, your mileage might vary!
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You can find the hole story at Fortune!