Hotels trying to bribe users to raise their TripAdvisor rankings have been put on notice by the travel review site. The company has already blacklisted 30 properties worldwide for suspicious reviews and they are looking into the actions of another.
The Cove Hotel in Cornwall is under scrutiny by TripAdvisor's content integrity team after guests of the hotel were allegedly given letters from the owner offering them 10% off food and drinks and free upgrades if they posted positive reviews.
The same perks were offered to guests who gave good reviews of the hotel to the Good Food Guide and the Michelin Guide.
TripAdvisor spokesperson Emma O’Boyle said: “Property owners are welcome to encourage their guests to submit user reviews on TripAdvisor upon their return home, but is strictly against our guidelines for businesses to offer incentives, discounts, upgrades or special treatment on current or future stays in exchange for reviews.
"Should travellers come across such a situation, we encourage them to contact TripAdvisor as soon as possible to report it.”
Any hotel that is caught could face harsh penalties. TripAdvisor has a zero tolerance policy on fraudulent reviews and uses numerous methods to verify the legitimacy of the content on their site.
O’Boyle said the vast majority of TripAdvisor's hotels reviews are legitimate. Any hotel that attempts to alter their reviews is putting its reputation at serious risk and will face stiff penalties if caught, she added.
As well as contravening TripAdvisor's code of conduct, faking reviews is illegal in Britain, Ireland, France, Italy and Germany.