TripAdvisor Censoring/Not Publishing Reviews? (Not What You Would Think)

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There has been news pieces about fake reviews that the owners of hotels have either purchased or generated by themselves. Then, there are complaints from hoteliers that people or competitors that have never visited the property have left negative/fake reviews.

tripadvisor-hix-bkk

I sometimes leave a short review of a hotel on TripAdvisor, as I often found TripAdvisor reviews of questionable quality. You can easily do the review using TripAdvisor’s mobile app i.e. while in a taxi.

tripadvisor-review-guidelines

TripAdvisor has guidelines for reviews that you can find above and there is nothing unusual about them.

tripadvisor-review-small-text

Also, TripAdvisor has the cop out at the bottom of the guidelines that they can do whatever they want. Fair, it is their website.

hix-bkk

Last week, I had a stay at Holiday Inn Express hotel in Bangkok. It is far better than any HIX in North America and I have stayed there few times to hit certain Priority Club promo requirements. The stay was below average, however, and I left the short survey like the one below and gave the hotel TWO stars (I don’t have the actual text but this is reproduction).

Too Expensive for Bangkok considering all the options

I have stayed at tius property few times since its opening and think that it is OK. I had the following problems during my most recent stay:

1. One of the lamps was going on/off and requested maintenance to replace it and they didn’t.

2. The breakfast restaurant has to go cups but is missing the proper lids. I was told six months ago that they had ordered them but they still only had soft drink ones available.

3. You may not get orange juice every morning as it is only on rotation basis according to the breakfast “designer”.

4. The management should spray the area around the lobby/entrance for bugs. I had several mosquitoes around me inside the lobby while I was waiting for a taxi.

After I had left the review above using the TripAdvisor’s mobile app, I received an email below from TripAdvisor confirming that I had left it and prompting me to click the link. I did that and waited…..

tripadvisor-email

Couple of days later, the review vanished from my review history, where it has been pending for a while. TripAdvisor apparently wasn’t willing to publish it.

Conclusion

As I already said above, I have found a lot of TripAdvisor reviews of questionable quality. It makes me wonder sometimes if we have even stayed at the same property.

Seems that TripAdvisor is not willing to publish (at least some) reviews of its partner hotels that are negative (see IHG Social Listening).

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  • Mile_lover

    Thank you for letting us know. I used to look for TripAdvisor for hotel quality, I guess no more. It is hard to get a trusted website for quality of hotels.

  • Bert

    I’ve had the same experience with TripAdvisor regarding their reviews – not particularly accurate from casual observation, and this confirms the caveat emptor nature of that forum. Thanks for your description of the experience.

    • wildfirejc

      My husband and I had the misfortune to stay in Quality Inn & Suites in Montrose for two nights in August 2013. We don’t have any negative feelings towards Muslims – but after this stay, we may well reconsider if we see that a hotel is being run by Muslims in the future. The receptionist was in Muslim attire. I asked her where she was from and she told me she was a Bangladeshi. I have many Indian friends and some Muslim friends too. So the first impression didn’t concern me. Anyway, the first night was OK. The next day, we went out sightseeing and when we returned, we found our room cleaned and two personal items missing. When I complained to the lady in the front office, she actually laughed – as if it was a joke. She said she would ask the cleaners why they threw away my husband’s toothbrush and my tongue cleaner. The stainless steel cleaner was bought in Singapore and hard to come by in USA or UK (where we live). During the night, a screaming siren woke us up at 11 pm – we didn’t know what it was and unplugged the alarm clock, thinking maybe someone was playing a practical joke on us. The errant cleaners perhaps? Anyway, we went back to sleep and just as we were dropping off, another screech tore through our room. This time we looked harder and could only assume that it was a little gadget on the ceiling – that looked like a fire alarm. I phoned the reception – and a male staff answered telling me that it was the fire alarm gone wrong, The engineers were trying to fix it and he had no idea how long it would take. Well, that was the end of a good night’s sleep, while yet another screech sounded about 10 minutes later. We thought that since we had phoned the reception, the staff member would be courteous enough to call us back once things were sorted. No such luck. Anyway, it was way after 1 am by the time we looked out the window and noticed that the fire engine had disappeared. So it was safe to try and catch up on some sleep. The next morning, no apologies were forthcoming from the Muslim front manager either – the lady from the day before could not be seen anywhere. So when I asked about the missing items and compensation for them, I was told by the front manager that the cleaners have not arrived. It was nearly 10 am. When I asked him for the owners’ name, I was given it on a scrap of paper and told to go phone him from the lobby phone (not to crowd the front desk). When I asked once again for compensation, he had the audacity to show me a piece of paper which all guests had to sign when checking in – and there was a footnote saying the hotel would not be responsible for any personal property of guests left in the room. Surely that meant only if guests had checked out – and not while the guests are still staying there! I felt that I was dealing with third world people there and then and considered writing to the owner upon my return. After several emails and several attempts to put my bad experience on Tripadvisor, I was told by the owner that he’d be happy to give me a discount on my next stay. Hell, nothing on earth would make me stay in that place ever again and Tripadvisor never published my reviews.

      • JR

        …maybe because your reviews are discriminatory? After reading this, I’m convinced you think there’s an Islamic conspiracy to deny customers good service.

  • Jerry

    Can you not re-submit the review again and see if it was automated filtering?
    All my reviews thus far, +ve or -ve, have all gone published fine
    Nowadays, if a hotel is bad, it’ll get Google’ed whether it’s on TA or not;
    Often I read 20+ reviews (or 3+ pages) of TA reviews to get an idea of the hotel

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      There was nothing out of ordinary on my review besides the fact that I only gave it two stars that was representative of the quality on this particular stay.

  • Loyalty Lobby Fan

    Glad you brought this up…..In my experience this is true that Trip Advisor can censor stay reports if they choose to, on their own or at the request of the vendor in question. Several years ago I had a terrible stay at a 5-star Riu in PV Mexico where we were poisoned by local moonshine in premium label bottles ($1200 hospital bill to prove it), robbed at the pool, criminal activity on site, and a whole list of problems with he facility/staff which I posted based on our personal experinces to warn others…it never made it. Another traveller made a generic report (bad news removed) and it posted easily so things are filtered.

    That being said, at a hotel I frequent a disgruntled employee posted a negative report on the former employer about getting a disease in the Jacuzzi and dirty rooms to discredit the hotel. It was medically impossible to get that disease that way and with this evidence the hotel filed a complaint to TA with justification citing ex employee, false information, etc and it took a few weeks to have the entire report removed but it was. Trip Advisor must be taken with a grain of salt as they say….possibly an accurate picture but not a certainty. I find an initial look on TA and then another look in a stay forum on Flyertalk a prudent way to evaluate a property but its still a gamble as things can change quickly with changes in ownership, renovations beginning, etc. Often any overly positive posts from TA members with 1-2 life time reports ever should be disregarded as I’ve heard of employee’s encouraged to make reports that flatter their hotel and distort the ratings. Another trick hotels told me is they make long hotel replies in response to reports to use up page space and help bump back negative reviews in the viewing page’s as it seems few scroll back more than 2-3 pages when doing a quick review.

    Also since you cannot post another TA report on the same property within 90 days it impairs feedback if a property changes within that period. The 90 day restriction should be removed so guests who frequent the property can make accurate , and timely reports.

  • Daniel

    All my bad reviews on IHG hotels have posted perfectly… .

  • www.Fishing4Deals.com

    A hotel stay has to be really outstanding or really terrible for me to post a review on TripAdvisor. They have published both in the past.

  • Pingback: Accor Executive Caught Leaving Not So Favorable Reviews Of Rivals On TripAdvisor | LoyaltyLobby

  • vortix

    I had a particularly bad experience at a luxury all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean. The problems with large insects (roaches) and lizards entering our room at night caused us to leave early and head home. All rooms at the hotel were designed similarly, and there wasn’t anything the hotel could do to resolve the problem, so we left early.

    The hotel said we must pay a penalty for leaving early. After going back and forth with hotel management, I decided to remind them that I am waiting for the outcome of this issue before submitting reviews online. They became extremely offended, and sent me a TripAdvisor brochure that explains how hotels can combat “blackmail” problems by alerting TripAdvisor about customers that are threatening to leave bad reviews if their problems are not resolved (which wasn’t my intention….I was planning to leave a fair review letting people know how the hotel handled this situation). I would be happy to share the document with anyone that is interested.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      Got it thanks! Will do piece about it tomorrow.

  • rajg

    tripadvisor is trying to make business. bad reviews are bad for business. I don’t trust tripadvisor. They literally go by the measuring tape to publish review. most of the reviews are fake as experienced. I cancelled my account for this reason.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      They definitely do have something agency/agent problem. They collect the money from the hotels and travel partners while at the same time publishing reviews about them. I suspect that partner hotels can get negative reviews removed.

  • DB

    Hotel chains that pay for the privilege of not having bad reviews – usually the ones that have business listings with TripAdvisor.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      I am sure that those with business ties can “report” suspicious reviews that they don’t like for review.

  • Cyndee Harrington

    Could it be they are being paid, getting kick-backs or are offered special concessions for scrubbing its site? I think so b/c they removed a very honest, documented and bad review I made about a major airline that mislead, misinformed and possibly lied to me in order to collect more money from me. If this is the case then they are no longer an impartial site but like noted below are building off a reputation to become a catalyst to not only advertise but

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      They get payments from hotels and airlines for referring traffic to them. Hotels have direct access to reviews and can respond to them via different online tools. I guess that they must be somehow able to dispute a review and TA then decides what they will do.

  • Sandra Scubla

    i have the same problem. they sensor all the reviews and pick and choose only nice pretty ones. I got ripped off at 1 Hotel Aura Apart, Istanbul. I refused to stay there online they had two cancellation policy per Bank of America they allow merchants to do as they please so I lost my 1300. the place is a complete dump, it was next to the railroad tracks in the hallways up the staircase barely any room to put your luggage through the hallway. food everywhere I am NOT wasting my money spending it at a dump instead Bank of America says that they will let my kids do whatever they want and I ended up losing 1300. I never wrote anything about Bank of America on my review but I was honest as stated what happened my review it has not posted I have called and complained 2 TripAdvisor for censoring the reviews and only publishing nice ones.

  • Sandra Scubla

    i think we should get together and sue tripadvisor. this is bull. i purchase digital advertising and if someone writes awful reviews, i can’t do anything about it unless they really didn’t book with me or i have an active court case. if i would have known that they censor i would never have booked.