Review sites like Google, Yelp, Citysearch and even TripAdvisor have taken a huge hit recently in the media for publishing fake reviews. So have a number of so-called reputation management companies for helping foster the practice.

Just yesterday the New York Times reported that the State’s Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman had reached an agreement with 19 companies to pay a total of $350,000 in fines and cease their misleading practices of writing fake reviews.

According to the A.G., “What we found is even worse than old fashioned false advertising. When you put up a billboard, you can tell it is a paid advertisement – but on Yelp or Citysearch you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions making this practice even more deceiving.” We couldn’t agree more.

Review sites are fighting back. TripAdvisor has a zero tolerance for fake reviews and will remove those they believe are fake, penalize a hotel’s ranking and even post a message on a property’s listing alerting readers that fake reviews have been found. And Yelp recently sued a California law firm for posting fake reviews.

Positive online reviews can have a tremendous impact on a business.

  • A number of research studies have shown that increasing star ratings can increase occupancy for hotels and revenue for restaurants.
  • Others have shown that online reviews are the #2 most trusted source of information behind recommendations from friends and relatives.

It is little wonder unscrupulous individuals attempt to game the system by posting fake reviews.

Our recommendation to client’s and all hotels for that matter, is to:

  • Get great TripAdvisor ratings the old-fashioned way – earn them.
  • Use reviews to improve your guest experience and the Management Response option to let people know you are listening to make continuous improvements.
  • Have a custom tailored TripAdvisor strategy designed to get more and higher quality reviews to increase your ranking.

What do you think?

AUTHOR: Madigan Pratt

Madigan Pratt is President of MP&A Digital & Advertising, an award-winning agency helping luxury hotels attract and retain profitable customers. Principals with over 60 years of collective experience at some of the world's largest advertising and direct marketing companies lead the agency's team of marketing, creative, public relations, Internet and social media professionals.

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