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Are Trip Advisor’s Days Numbered?

New sites such as Trippy.com could be the future of planning a holiday

Written by . Published on February 6th 2012.

Are Trip Advisor’s Days Numbered?

LAST week the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) hauled over the travel review site Trip Advisor regarding some of the marketing claims it made on its UK site.

Trip Advisor is the world's leading travel review site. It operates in 30 countries and millions use the site to find accommodation. Last year the ASA launched an investigation into the site after receiving complaints from numerous hotels questioning the validity of some its reviews. The ASA was concerned how the site marketed its reviews as ‘trusted’ when the system of verification of reviewer’s authenticity could not in fact justify the claim. As a result, the ASA has ordered the site to remove marketing claims such as ‘reviews you can trust’.

Research has uncovered examples of fake (or not totally impartial) reviews. We spoke with Brian, a design graduate from Boston, who travelled to Rome in 2009 to work as a marketing intern for a B&B. He explained how his boss would reward him with cash incentives for posting favourable reviews about the B&B on Trip Advisor. “He would encourage me to post reviews, even telling me the kind of comments I should be posting. He also encouraged me to try to get my friends to post comments.” Staff at the B&B were encouraged to post fake reviews – sometimes more than one – on different computers to avoid IP address issues being flagged-up.  

Sometimes the manipulation of reviewers is more subtle. Paulina has worked at a hotel also in Rome for two years. She says that staff and the manager speak to guests and ask if they have had a pleasant stay. They then tell them if they post a review on Trip Advisor that they will get a discount on their stay and if they return they would again get a discount – or even get to stay for a few nights for free.

Given the amount of people who use Trip Advisor for advice on where to stay, canny and sometimes dishonest hoteliers are aware that it can be a great inexpensive marketing tool.

Trip Advisor may have dropped its ‘trusted’ claim but it still markets its reviews as being ‘unbiased’ which as we have seen it still can’t fully justify. 

The problems with the traditional Trip Advisor system was that a) the reviews were from strangers whose comments, even honestly given, had to be taken on trust: and b) postings could be fake or party to ulterior motives.  

Bearing in mind that you are more likely to trust someone you know sites such as Trippy.com are now trying to link to social networks such as Facebook for your travel and itinerary plans.

At first glance the Trippy site may just be the way forward. It literally takes seconds to login as all it required was one click to say that I agreed to the terms and conditions of allowing the site to link to Facebook and sharing data.

All you have to do is click on the ‘where do you want to go’ box and presto friends to ask. Next up you can go through a number of screen options to tell them what kind of trip you are planning – chilling, family, romantic, budget, business, culture – to describe your trip in a little more detail and any places you have in mind. The layout and functionality is very clear and well designed. Not a bad place to start if you are looking to plan your next holiday.











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