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Tripadvisor: power and responsabilities

25/08/2013

Tripadvisor Help!
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“WITH GREAT POWERS, COME GREAT RESPONSIBILITIES!”

As Uncle Ben famously warned Peter Parker… This cornerstone of Spider Man’s mythology should apply to Tripadvisor’s reviewers…

Web 2.0, as they call it, refers to the recent evolution of the internet towards social networks. This shift is giving power to the people, for the people, notably through the whole “reviews” system. Complaining about this situation would be as useless as complaining about the rain or the cycle of seasons.

In this context, Tripadvisor is probably the most radical example of power given to the reviewers. It has considerably impacted the hospitality industry. Hotels and restaurants live and die with their reviews, in particular the small properties, with a tight budget for marketing. According to the statistics, more than 60% of the travellers consult Tripadvisor before planning their trip or going out for dinner…

Tripadvisors reviewers have nowadays an incredible power. As Peter Parker and his amazing spider powers, when you are granted a great power, your responsibility should be to use it wisely, and for the good of others.

THE LIBELLOUS REVIEWS!

Recently, a couple, disappointed about their stay with us during the strongest monsoon witnessed in Kerala since 30 years, decided to take revenge using Tripadvisor.

As we usually do during the off-season, depending on the availability, we had upgraded them, in their case up to our best AC cottage, with private garden, large sit-out directly on the backwaters, glass ceiling showing the beautiful bamboo structure of our traditional thatched roof… They did not complain during their stay, smiling and polite with the staff, but showing dark angry faces the rest of the time. The rain was heavy, almost continuous, as you can expect during the monsoon in Kerala, yet, as I said, this year even stronger than usual. Thus, for some reason (I suppose meteorological…) they apparently decided that we had somehow fraudulently spoiled their holidays. I would have gladly offered them january’s sun and perfect temperatures, but well, I could not. And for this failure, their revenge has been merciless!

Back home, each of them registered on Tripadvisor, with the clear concerted intention to inflict double damage. They wrote two almost identical libellous incendiary reviews. Besides extreme denigratory comments, and a few plain lies, they openly accused us of fraud. The husband accused us of having paid to post “fake reviews” (100+ positive ones!) and the wife of having published a “fictional description” of our resort on Tripadvisor. They deliberately used the power of the reviewers to hurt us as much as possible.

Of course this is bad for business. But it is also shocking, in a deep intimate way. Small properties owners, and staff, are for a large majority sincere dedicated professionals, who do their best to satisfy their guests. Very very few of them, if any, deserve to be treated like this. Defamation is sad, humiliating, and very difficult to fight. A small resort in South India has absolutely no legal option against libellous accusations made through the internet…

After reporting these reviews to Tripadvisor, explaining what I could in the very few words allowed by their system, the husband’s review has been removed from the site (after a week of damage). Tripadvisor being very touchy on the matter of fake reviews, I had good hopes that they would in fact protect their own reputation… But the second review is still standing, and being slightly less extreme, and thus more insidious, I am unfortunately quite certain that it will remain on Tripadvisor, for the whole word to see us violently denigrated and libellously accused of frauding the system.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

This post is thus partly a call for help. Like in many defamation cases, our only defense is to call for witnesses to plead for our honesty and proper professional ethic. In fact, on Tripadvisor, following the web 2.0 logic, good users have the power to fight the bad ones! Please believe that I would not ask for help to fight any bad review, but I feel that this one is particularly unfair and deliberately damaging.

So, if any of our valued guests, having enjoyed their stay at Les 3 Elephants, and written a review on Tripadvisor (or willing to do so) happen to read this lines, it would be a great help for us if you could spare a little more of your time to follow this link:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g2647335-d2467634-r170672531-Les_3_Elephants_Cherai_Beach-Cherai_Beach_Vypin_Island_Kochi_Cochin_Kerala.html

Read the review “Not as good as led to believe…”, make your own idea, and if you agree with me, please report the libelous nature of the “fictional description” accusation. It is easy, just click on the “problem with this review” link at the bottom right…and well, testify that there is nothing fictional about the description of Les 3 Elephants provided on Tripadvisor. The malicious review being in fact a lot more “fictional”!

I, and all my team, would be extremely grateful.

OPEN LETTER TO ALL REVIEWERS

This post is also the occasion for me to speak in the name of all my hospitality colleagues around the word, mainly the independent ones, who live in a constant fear and feudal dependence to Tripadvisor and other massive Online Booking Operators:

To all users, please be aware that a few minutes of instant vengeful gratification you may obtain by spilling your frustration on the internet, will cause damages for months, sometimes years, to real, honest and hard-working persons, potentially even to entire communities.

Websites like Tripadvisor give a huge power to their users, so please be responsible and remain always very careful not to misuse it.

If you like a place, share it with others, it is the best way to say thank you.
If you are disappointed, feel free to share it also, but in a proper, decent, constructive way.
Don’t worry, the best places will still be at the top of the list, and the bad at the bottom.

Please do not add anger, violence and meanness to the world, there is enough of it already.

Love is always better than hate, for you, for others, for everyone… even on the web 2.0.

 

UPDATE: BIG THANK YOU!

We received a lot of support following this post. The libellous review has been erased from Tripadvisor. I have no doubt that our readers support has been very helpful to set things right.

I know that we cannot please everyone, and that some bad reviews will come again. As long as they are honnest and constructive, we’ll of course accept them and use them as a way to improve ourselves.

We are grateful for the warm support received. Thanks again.

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From → Hospitality, Story

6 Comments
  1. Real sad story. I’m sorry you are going through this. How can people be so mean as to fake a review in revenge for what … the bad weather? With so many good reviews on Trip Advisor, hopefully, this particular one won’t do much damage. When travelling I always check the review sites and there are often a few people complaining for some silly reason in otherwise highly regarded places. I just ignore them.

    • Thank you for your support. I am aware that the review itself will not create that much damage, nevertheless the Tripadvisor’s ranking system is extremely reactive and competitive. So a 3 or 4 places setback on the listing (as caused by this malicious reviews) is instantly impacting our bookings. I am confident that we’ll climb back, but the sad reality is that these persons have already reached their goal, and affected us where it hurts… We still are a very young property, I really hope that when we’ll be better established, we’ll learn not lose our sleep because of unfair reviews.

  2. Je suis choquée de lire ce billet! Je trouve cela triste. Je vais aller sur le site des que j’ai un peu de temps dans la journée.
    Continuer dans votre optique et j’espère que les gens réagiront. C’est si facile et tellement lâche de se servir d’Internet dans le but de nuire! Mais au fait, ….pourquoi ne maîtrisez vous pas la pluie et le beau temps?…lol

  3. Merci pour votre soutien. Finalement, probablement en partie grâce à l’aide précieuse de nos chers lecteurs/clients/reviewers la revue malintentionnée a été retirée par Tripadvisor. C’est bien sûr une très bonne nouvelle, et j espère bien que cette triste histoire s’arrêtera là, elle n’en demeure pas exemplaire de notre aventure et des difficultés quotidiennes que rencontrent les hôteliers indépendants face aux toutes puissantes compagnies internet du secteurs.

  4. Just desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your submit is just cool and that i can assume
    you’re knowledgeable on this subject. Well together with your
    permission allow me to take hold of your RSS feed to
    stay updated with forthcoming post. Thank you one million
    and please continue the enjoyable work.

    • Thanks a lot for your nice comment. I have had good feedback on this post from people from the hospitality business. I suppose that, a bit sadly, many of them can recognize their own experience in this story. Happy to have you as a new regular reader 😉

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