Reader Question: TripAdvisor Censoring Critical Reviews?

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27 Comments

A LoyaltyLobby reader left a comment to a prior piece about TripAdvisor’s inability to sometimes publish critical reviews of properties while no such issues with positive ones.

TripAdvisor

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Here’s the reader comment:

I confirm that TripAdvisor censors negative reviews. I went to 2 hotels in Sharm El Heik, Egypt, with my family. One was absolutely horrible (IberHotel) the other was good (RoyalGrandSharm). I posted a review for both on the same day.

Guess what ? The positive review for RoyalGrandSharm was published in a couple of days. The negative review about Iberhotel was put in a pending status for a few weeks then it just disappeared! So I reposted it. Same thing happened : pending for a few weeks, than it disappeared again a second time!

I have lost all trust in TripAdvisor and I am closing my account with them. What a band of crooks.

I was about to write about this unique TripAdvisor feature because it just happened to me as well:

TripAdvisor No

Here’s the review that I left that was deemed to be in violation of TripAdvisor โ€œrulesโ€:

TripAdvisor Original Review

Conclusion

The reader is right that sometimes TripAdvisor can take long time to post critical review of properties. Makes you wonder if hotels can pay TripAdvisor for delaying negative reviews until they are on the second or third page?

But you have to remember what business TripAdvisor is in that is basically selling hotel bookings and getting paid commission to do just that. They have to walk fine line by satisfying both the consumers and hotels.

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  • McCaron

    there was a recent coverage on French TV showing restaurant owners complaining about bad reviews and suspecting competitors or people asking friends to post bad reviews without being real customers. it seems that they successfully had TripAdvisor deleting these reviews.
    Of course, you could always go to the restaurant with several friends, be unhappy, and end up asking everyone at your table writing like 5 reviews for the same booking…
    But in the end, this kind of behaviour represents what ? 1% ? less than 1% of all reviews ?
    If a hotel or a restaurant receives plenty of bad reviews, one must realize that something is really happening there

  • sam

    I’d imagine removing the comment about Chinese officials using the hotel would allow the post to go through.

    I expect TripAdvisor to censor. Abuse does happen, though it may be rare. It’s in the sites interest to screen in order to make it a valuable resource.

    I’ve posted many critical reviews, never had anything kicked back.

    • disqus_M4GjYh0zWA

      Same here and as I read that review, I spotted the same things as you. TA said “no hearsay”, the author writes a sentence starting “Apparently…” which ensues hearsay. Also, frankly it’s not very well written. If the author had formed proper English prose rather than a bullet-point style review, it would have flowed better and probably would have been waved through.

  • TripConflictedAdvisor

    TripAdvisor will definitely censor reviews at the request of large hotel operators, if existing commercial relationship. Remember TripAdvisor let huge numbers of fake reviews by hotel PR departments through, even though it was clear they were coming from the hotel.

    I have seen this happen – basically the hotel uses it leverage to suppress reviews that create risk for them (usually because the hotel has done something as dodgy as, and been caught out). The posted review gets deleted and a vague breach of guidelines notice is sent to the reviewer. While it is claimed you can resubmit, you will never have any review posted again about that hotel (blacklisted).

    TripAdvisor is corrupt as. It’s only small players, who don’t send revenue TripAdvisor’s way, that can’t do this. The big hotels, with existing relationships, can definitely prevent you ever reviewing their property again.

    While TripAdvisor is still a resource, you have got to take it with a huge grain of salt.

  • When TripAdvisor started to accept direct bookings, they lost the very independence that was the foundation for their base of reviews…

  • Marlon Gobitz

    Happened to me too! I was supposedly in violation too, according to the same email as you showed above. I thought it was my mistake and I edited the review, but it still didn’t get posted … And I got the same violation email again….

  • Mohamed Basma

    Oh tripadvisor is shit,i posted in the past several negative teviews regarding Intercontinental Park lane London and they were all subtantiated with hotel manager responses regarding my stay and confirming the authenticity of the stay.
    One day i just realised trip advisor have deleted 5 or 6 reviews for the last 24 months regarding this property,needless to say i dont trust them anymore.

  • rdrago43

    TripAdvisor’s moderators are also naive -or- ignore racist comments in reviews. Read a review of a Chinese restaurant on TripAdvisor where the person (author of the review) described the restaurant’s food as pretty good for “xxxx food” (insert ethnic slur).

    Sent a note to TripAdvisor alerting them to this review and got a response back that they reviewed it and found nothing wrong with it.

  • Maynard D

    Your review was supposed to be about this one hotel. But in your review you mention two other hotels which you thought we’re better in some way. This could be construed as a competitor leaving a bad review for this hotel while mentioning their own hotel in a positive light. You should have written a review about this hotel and not mentioned any other hotel in the review. If you were to make those changes and then resubmit the review they would probably accept it. You should simply write about what you personally experienced on this stay and nothing else. I have been a member of TripAdvisor for at least 10 years and I’ve never had a review rejected.

    • ElToro

      I do understand the point, but on the other side, it’s not about writing reviews that TripAdvisor likes. If it’s the truth (at least yours), it’s the truth. They should rather request proof of stay. It’s ridiculous that a company puts up those arbitrary rules for reviewers but itself shows no transparency as to who sponsors what.

      That said, there is still some value if you know how to spot the fakes. Other sites may have fakes, too.

      • Maynard D

        Well, it’s their web site. If you don’t follow their policies, they won’t publish your review.

        • ElToro

          Of course it’s their right to put up rules. But they don’t follow them, they act arbitrarily, that’s the problem. Following the rules, for example, hotel owners are not allowed to submiut reviews of their own properties.

  • Belle Fitz

    Is it a recent change? Or are they deleting negative posts from the past as well? I noticed that some pics I posted just disappear no matter how many times I contacted TripAdvisor because that photo proved that an owner’s rebuttal was incorrect. (Paris cafe). So ever since October/November last year, I stopped posting TripAdvisor altogether. It’s a shame because I had relied on them for choosing hotels or restaurants.. it’s also true for trustpilot reviews. They censor negative reviews aggressively. I hope Yelp remains true to consumers…

    • Dr Kim

      They absolutely do delete posts from the past This has always been so. It depends which country/town is edited. TripAdvisor cannot be trusted

  • simplyfantabulous

    It’s the 21st Century, folks. Use cyber judo to turn things your way. Just check in at the hotel front desk with a GoPro video camera strapped to your forehead and explain you’re posting a YouTube review of your stay. If this hasn’t already happened at that hotel, you may be in luck. Be sure you know how to use the camera, and shoot some actual tape now and then. Verisimilitude can be all the bona fides needed in these kinds of shenanigans.

    • Barbarella

      ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Anna Antunez

    I posted a negative review about a first hand experience with a Hilton Garden Inn and TripAdvisor sent me the same email and removed my review. Gone is the trust and now I refuse to use them for anything.

  • ElToro

    TripAdvisor not only censors reviews to their liking, they also tolerate obviously false reviews they get to know about. I have seen cases where they were alerted to fake reviews (written by hotel owner or employees) by official ways (press, that is), and what happens? They start discussing with the journalist why he is so negative instead of removing the fake reviews.

    So, when TripAdvisoring, follow your gut feelings. In many cases, especially with restaurants, the majority of reviews is faked. You know it when you read them, and you know it better when you’ve been there…

  • AmbassadorBas

    I’m a level 6 contributor and have over 500 reviews on TripAdvisor but last year I had a very similar experience I wrote a rare negative review this one was about the InterContinental Park Lane London where I stayed. Being a Spire Elite Ambassador I was given none of the Ambassador amenities and asked three times for extra pillows. I posted the same review on IHG guest review, they cleverly held it for three weeks but posted it but obviously by then it was buried. This hotel also does not offer feedback or response to customer reviews.
    TripAdvisor put it on hold and I then got a an email that it was not going to be posted for similar reasons to yours above, I did mention another hotel that we moved too, but it was the Crowne Plaza London City, a IHG chain hotel so I can’t see the issue. But it so inflamed my sense of right, and that I felt it was a matter that TripAdvisor wouldn’t take a negative review re IHG’s flagship InterContinental hotel the same one they use for their advertising video of the Ambassador program, that delivering no amenities was a surprise. Especially since I mentioned it before going out to a play and there was still nothing on return. So I decided no more TripAdvisor and no IC park lane again.

    • The InterContinental Park Lane seems to have lock on many Middle Eastern guests so they doesn’t seem to care about the rest too much.

  • vtdam

    I used to trust TripAdvisor reviews but definitely not anymore for many similar reasons that mentioned in these threads. Has anyone watched the TV show called Market Place? They had a show about how people are paid to just writing up good reviews for companies. It’s so unethical and misleading. I now turn to forums where real travelers or consumers blogs instead. Sites like this one here and Flyertalk are good resources. Don’t waste your time on reading and posting on TripAdvisor. Go for the non biased websites.

  • ะะฝะดั€ะตะน ะ‘ะพั€ะธัั‹ั‡

    I can only say that this review really looks like a hearsay mixed with some ridiculous complaints (i.e absence of Earl Grey). I’ve posted some negative reviews during past years and never had any of them deleted or not submitted. But I do agree that a lot of reviews are fake or sponsored (especially small tourist businesses use this as a way to promote; some even provide discount in exchange for a posted review). TripAdvisor is a large community and I understand that they cannot censor each and every review (unlike on Booking.com, you don’t have to provide proof of stay).

  • Joseph Merrick

    This #NoTripAdvisor notice I recently saw in Venice sums up how I feel about TA:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63ccbd373f7263b2b53a870645fe746038e3c60d660a8314f5d5325aec102d45.jpg

    Tripadvisor has just gained too much power and has become to greedy. I hope that soon more people realise that it’s only about the money and not about giving advise to other travellers any more. I mean, people basically work for free (writing reviews, uploading pics etc) and Tripadvisor is simply leeching on user generated content to make millions and millions of dollars…

    They have also changed the listing of hotels so that not the top reviewed are on top; instead they are ordered by tripadvisors own secret algorithm, I suspect that also has something to do with the revenue they are getting from different hotels/chains.

  • Wi_reader

    Your unsubstantiated comment about Chinese officials “apparently staying there” reads like hearsay. Also, no doubt that you received incorrect information from the bellman, but how can you substantiate that it was a lie? Could have been outdated, confused, misinformed, etc. Stick to the facts.
    I wonder if they use software to flag wording that may indicate hearsay, etc. We may need to be careful in our choice of words.
    I note the concern of others about posted reviews being removed. I am sure properties would never challenge “all the other guests at breakfast said their food was delicious”. But I wonder if clever corporate clean up teams use these rules as an excuse to challenge a negative review, if there was any part that could be argued to be hearsay? Then due to conflict of interest, TripAdvisor would be pleased to accept any excuse.

  • Joe

    Yep I received a similar note for one of my less than stellar reviews. And I have a good number on there, most positive to highly positive. Probably less than 10% negative.

    Made me feel less confidence in their reviews. In the past I could do a good job of filtering the 1 post complainers out. Now unsure how many bad reviews get posted.

  • notme

    I have had 2 Tripadvisor reviews arbitrarily deleted. I had 2 very negative experiences with Conrad Hong Kong and Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. I wrote about all the issues. They were approved and posted. Some months later, I notice they are gone. It appears that if a property requests that a review be removed then Tripadvisor removes it. I rewrote new posts for both properties, as of now they are both still there. I actually mention in my second reviews that my first review was removed. I wonder how much of this is automated and how much is really reviewed by human eyes?

  • Holiday_Hero

    Fk TA. It’s full of people who travel once a year. To the same place.

    Do they still clickbait affiliate links? ‘click here for professional photos’ link goes to rev generating booking page.

    John should do more on uncovering TAs ad code breaking business practices.