PR Diaries: Truth of Online Reviews

One aspect of PR that is held with great importance is online reviews, for a hotelier it has a lot to do with Tripadvisor. When we are given feedback, we look for the star ratings, because that can affect our ranking. If within a week we have above five consecutive five star ratings, we can go up one rank. If during the week we have three five stars but two three stars, we can stay at the same position. Some hotels employ a third party vendor to give ratings, but Tripadvisor has a computer system that can filter out these IP addresses and the hotel will be blacklisted for a few weeks and ranking will drop.

However, there are loopholes to the system. Some hotels encourage their staff to write reviews by setting up incentive systems. The a staff’s name is mentioned, they can get complimentary meals or services from the hotel. And, it’s easy to tell if it is a real review or a “hotel staff” own written review. The trick is seeing how many past reviews a reviewer has conducted. If a hotel has many first time reviewers, then that would be suspicious. Anyone can easily setup a TripAdvisor account. Anyone can post. But here is the real question, are they genuine posters from real travelers or over-eager hoteliers trying to climb the rank to make the boss happy?

In my opinion after seeing hotels who discourage staff from making fake postings (like my current place) to hotels who set up incentives (my former hotel), is anything we read online that’s truthful anymore?

With everyone being their own critic, especially in todays social media culture, do you believe everything you read?

In my trip to Huangshan, I went through a few days of deciding a hotel to stay at including (yes, in this order) TripAdvisor to find the places to visit, Ctrip to look at hotels near the attractions, Google maps to determine distances between the hotel and attraction places and then Tripadvisor for hotel reviews. The hotel I picked had horrible user reviews, but had fantastic reviews on another site. When I stayed there, I find the hotel to be great

I want to hear from you!

Do you post reviews?

Why do you post?

What do you expect your review can accomplish?