I have been thinking a lot about Tripadvisor this week. For the past 2 years we have been in the top 3 or 4 hotels in Marrakech and, for sure, it gets us client bookings at maison mk. We are also currently the number one restaurant in Marrakech.
But I don't know how many clients are aware of how unreliable Tripadvisor is - a hotel can sit & write their own great reviews. On the flip side, a rival hotel can sit & write false bad reviews of their competitors.
The fake review happened to us this week - a client that supposedly stayed with us, except they picked a time when I was actually staying in the riad & knew every client in the hotel. When a hotel writes to Tripadvisor to complain, we are told they will investigate to see if it can be removed. This almost never happens, and the review stays on the site. We can post a response, but it has to be incredibly nicely written otherwise it is rejected multiple times by tripadvisor. But at least you do get to see what we say.
However, and its a big however, last year we were number one on tripadvisor, received a fake review, and we went straight down to number 10. Had we received another fake review, it would have meant number 20 & people just don't look that far down the list. One riad 2 years ago received 4 fake reviews and they went from number 3 to number 40. It has taken them 2 years to get back into the top 10 where they belong.
Unfortunately, Tripadvisor know who is sending the fake reviews - they see the ISP & exact computer identifier, but we, the hotels, see nothing & so cannot find out which competitor is doing it. Occasioanally the fake reviewer is stupid enough to post 4 or 5 almost identical fake reviews on 4 or 5 different riads on the same day & we can all go to Tripadvisor and complain. But generally, we must just grin & bear it and allow the system to take away our business.
The obvious solution (apart from suing Tripadvisor which many people are considering at the moment), is that if there is a dispute betwen a hotel & a 'client', then the client should have to disclose who they are & when they stayed so that we all know its a genuine client. We all accept that it is impossible to make 100% of clients happy 100% of the time & an unhappy client should definitely have the right to post a bad review. But when it is just a competitor sabotaging your business & making false claims that we can do nothing about, that just doesn't seem right.
I love the idea of Tripadvisor & we ask every client to do a review of their stay at maison mk. If it is a genuine bad review, it is up to us to look at it, consider the points made, learn from it & respond fully with what happened, why it did or did not go wrong, and what we have done to ensure it doesn't happen again. For all the great reviews, we can just sit & say thankyou for such lovely comments.
Just a few thoughts on Tripadvisor from a frustrated riad owner...