Travel websites implement new policies on reviews after investigation

Travel websites are scrambling to crackdown on fake reviews after a new study alluded that some hotel owners and staff were writing false reviews under the pseudonyms of tourists.

In February, the United Kingdom's ‘Advertising Standards Authority' said the claims on TripAdvisor.co.uk , including "reviews you can trust" and "more than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from real travelers", were misleading.

The agency said it was possible that some reviews on the website could easily have been submitted by people who were not real travelers but just trying to influence customers' choices.

Some travelers now believe that hotel employees were pretending to be guests when they wrote online reviews, something that is illegal in the United States and investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

"It's easy to book online," said Reba Lowe of Vacation Memories Travel Services, "however you don't know what you're getting when you book it online."

TripAdvisor.com released the following statement to 2NEWS sister station, ABC15:

"TripAdvisor uses frequently evolving and highly sophisticated filters to scan reviews for biased material, monitoring a wide range of attributes associated with electronic correspondence.  Suspicious activity is then flagged for further inspection by our team of dedicated agents who use a variety of additional confidential investigative methods designed to identify potential fraud.

"We take the authenticity of our reviews very seriously and have numerous methods to manage the legitimacy of the content on TripAdvisor.  We also know that our users approach TripAdvisor with common sense, and make an educated decision based on the opinions of many.  According to a recent PhoCusWright study commissioned by TripAdvisor, 98% of respondents have found TripAdvisor hotel reviews to be accurate of the actual experience. 

"The integrity of the content on TripAdvisor is fundamental to our success. Without it, we wouldn't have the loyalty we enjoy from the 50 million visitors who use our site each month."

Hotels.com e-mailed ABC15 with the following statement:

"At Hotels.com only guests who have actually booked their hotel room through us can offer guest reviews on our site. We send guests a survey for their feedback on the property they booked after their hotel stay is completed."

" The Atlantic Wire " details more signs that hotel reviews are not authentic.

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