If you are the owner of a hotel, bed and breakfast, restaurant or similar hospitality venue and you are having problems with negative TripAdvisor reviews then probably the first thing to know is that you are not alone !!

Recently I was told about a lady who owned a bed and breakfast and who had a nervous breakdown after a bunch of local competitors decided to gang up on her and post loads of negative reviews on TripAdvisor.

A very common story is when a disgruntled ex-employee decides to get his or her friends to post negative reviews on TripAdvisor or simply does it themselves. After all you can be pretty well completely anonymous on TripAdvisor and it is very unlikely that each post is reviewed or acted upon by TripAdvisor as they suggest.

One of the biggest problems is that people will say things via electronic media ( email, SMS, blog posts etc ) that they would NEVER say to your face  – including ” You’re ditched ” !

Also, people who have an axe to grind will invariably make more effort to post something on TripAdvisor and similar sites than those people who are happy with the food or service they received. In fact there is a view that reviews are typically polarised to the extremes of those that are either VERY happy or VERY unhappy.

Surely people should not be allowed to post fraudulent or defamatory comments ????

What does TripAdvisor itself say about Fraud on it’s website ????


What is considered fraud?

Reviews of accommodations, attractions and restaurants should only be written by TripAdvisor members that have had a customer service experience that they want to share with the community.

The following actions may be considered fraudulent:

– Attempts by an owner (or agents working on behalf of the ownership of a property) to boost the reputation of a property by:

  • Writing a review for their own property
  • Asking friends or relatives to write positive reviews
  • Submitting a review on behalf of a guest
  • Copying comment cards and submitting them as reviews
  • Pressuring a TripAdvisor member to remove a negative review
  • Offering incentives such as discounts, upgrades, or any special treatment in exchange for reviews
  • Hiring an optimization company, third party marketing organization, or anyone to submit false reviews
  • Impersonating a competitor or a guest in any way

– Attempting to damage his/her competitors by submitting a negative review.

Bottom line: Any attempt to mislead, influence or impersonate a traveler is considered fraudulent and will be subject to penalty.

What you will notice is that this is all VERY biased towards stopping owners of hospitality venues from promoting themselves and virtually ignores individuals ( ” customers ” ) posting fraudulent or defamatory comments.

So, in these challenging economic times with everyone trying to get ” the best deal ” or ” a discount ” Tripadvisor is a ” deal getter” or ” discount merchants ” dream !

Want to ruin your ex-employers business ??? Just get all your friends to post bad reviews !

Want a discount ? ? Threaten the owners with a bad post on TripAdvisor unless they give you one !

What CAN you do as an owner of a targeted hospitality venue ??

As this post suggests you can ask TripAdvisor nicely to remove what you believe is a fraudulent review:


You could also, as the owner of the targeted venue, respond to the negative review posted on TripAdvisor. This may or may not be published depending on whether TripAdvisor decides to allow your response or not. If you do post responses then you need to be in the right ( cool ) frame of mind to do so and may need professional ( Reputation Advisor or PR person ) help.

You could do one of the things that TripAdvisor tells you is fraudulent e.g. Get some of your friends to post positive reviews to counteract the negative and fraudulent reviews. Obviously I am NOT telling you to do this !

You could also establish a blog ( alongside your website ) that is optimised for /orientated around being found for Google searches on e.g. ” Reviews of Your Hotel “. Search Engine Optimising ( SEO’g ) and blogging are skills/experience that you may not have but there is information about this on this blogsite and if you still need help please contact me.

I will also add links to helpful web and blog sites as I come across them – below.

In the U.K. if defamatory information is posted on a U.K. web or blogsite you can write to them and ask them to remove that defamatory information. If they do not then they become liable themselves to a legal action for defaming you.

Unfortunately e.g. U.S. based websites are not liable in the same way.

However websites like eBay and PayPal have adopted new ways of resolving criticism’s of sellers and buyers in recent times including those situations where someone is defaming someone else.  Issues are resolved using ” Online Dispute Resolution ” and ” Community Courts ” ( Courts comprised of peers ) .

I recently witnessed the eBay Online Dispute Resolution making a decision about an eBay sale and purchase dispute. From what I could see the ” Community Court ” reviewed the information and communications that had occurred and then made a final and binding decision.

There are a number of legal representations being made to TripAdvisor at the moment on behalf of some very large hospitality businesses and the objective of these legal challenges is to be able to do something about defamatory reviews being posted fraudulently.

It is not clear what the outcome of these legal challenges will be but there is a view that TripAdvisors whole business model is at risk if it does not do something about this issue.