Nothing will drive you crazier than a fake TripAdvisor review. Here we show you how to get fake TripAdvisor reviews removed from your business page.
In 2017, a freelance writer conned the foodies of London. He dreamed up a fake restaurant (called The Shed at Dulwich - a.k.a., the shed where he lived), photographed household objects in a way that made them look like appealing dishes and got his friends to write glowing reviews.
The Shed started out ranked as the 18,149th best restaurant in London. On the basis of those fake reviews and the intrigue surrounding the most exclusive (nonexistent) restaurant in town, The Shed ended up as the top-rated eatery in London, six months after it "opened." The restaurant still didn't exist.
The site where this con went down? TripAdvisor. It's a highly trusted site, so when hungry Londoners went looking for restaurants to try, they saw The Shed's high ratings and believed them.
On one hand, The Shed's creation was a brilliant ploy and makes for a very funny story. But for managers of real restaurants - or hotels, tour companies and other businesses that use TripAdvisor - this story is chilling. Because when The Shed reached its #1 ranking, it had 96 glowing reviews on its TripAdvisor page.
Every single one was fake.
Why People Write Fake Reviews
In a recent survey, 11% of respondents cited TripAdvisor as the review site they trust the most. (It came in fifth after Facebook, Yelp, Google, and BBB.org.)
Clearly, as evidenced by #shedgate, people believe the reviews they read on the sites they trust. In fact, 85% of respondents in the survey said they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
Which is worrying, because anyone at all can write a TripAdvisor review about your business. Lots of people do it, and for different reasons:
- A former employee might write a critical review of your business because he's upset about being fired and wants to punish you.
- A competitor might write a fake review criticizing your prices, cleanliness or customer service in an attempt to discredit you.
- A confused customer could think she's writing a review of a real place she visited but accidentally post it to your page instead.
- A former friend or family member who's angry at you could post a fake review to cause you stress.
You might even spot a fake positive review on your company's TripAdvisor site. Employees and their loved ones may write those to try to boost business. Some disreputable companies will even post fake positive reviews on your TripAdvisor page for a fee.
For its part, TripAdvisor does actively try to combat the fake review problem. It uses a tracking system that is supposed to identify patterns and other signs of fake reviews, like if the same IP address is used to post several reviews of the same business.
But the tracking system isn't foolproof, so false reviews slip through.
Righting the Wrongs
The good news: it's easy to report a review you think is false.
The better news: TripAdvisor has a dedicated team of employees who review and respond to those reports.
TripAdvisor only removes reviews that disobey its guidelines, and that's hard to prove.
It's still worth reporting the review to see if they'll take it down. To do this:
- Visit TripAdvisor's Management Center, from which business owners/managers can control their pages.
- If you haven't already done so, follow the steps to claim your business. This gives you the ability to respond to reviews posted on your page.
- Log in and click the "Reviews" tab.
- Find the questionable review.
- Follow the steps to report the review, writing an explanation for why you think it breaks site guidelines.
Also just so you know: Any user can also report a false review directly from a business's TripAdvisor page by clicking the flag in the bottom righthand corner of the review.
In the Meantime...
It takes a few days for TripAdvisor staff to review your report. During that time, potential customers may see the review and avoid your business because of it. And because it's possible that the review won't ultimately be removed, you may want to post a public response immediately. You can do this from the Management Center.
The best strategy for writing a response is to be polite, offer a reasonable explanation for why they customer's experience may have not been stellar (including - again, politely - the possibility that the reviewer may be "mistaken" if appropriate), and ask the user to contact you directly so you can rectify the situation. By being open, honest, and (above all) kind, you'll show other potential customers that you care about their experience, regardless of if the review is real or fake.
After responding, the next step is to protect your overall TripAdvisor rating by making sure your page gets lots of new, honest, positive reviews. They'll drown out the odd negative post and keep your rating high.
The easiest way to do that? Use an automated system like ReputationStacker. It gets your real customers to write reviews on the review sites of your choice, netting you a continuous stream of positive posts. Not only will those reviews entice other TripAdvisor users, but they'll also help drive online traffic to your site and help you rank more highly in search engine results.
There is Only One #shedgate
It's rare for fake TripAdvisor reviews to actually drive traffic to a business. Usually fake reviews are negative and written to drive traffic away from you. You can try to get them removed from TripAdvisor, but ultimately the best strategy is to minimize the power of fake reviews by surrounding them with real, positive ones. Make it happen with ReputationStacker.