TripAdvisor slated by hoteliers at its own lunch

It was billed as a masterclass: a chance for the hospitality trade to learn how to get the most out of the global travel review site TripAdvisor over lunch at a luxury hotel in London.

In the end, TripAdvisor staff ended up facing a barrage of tricky questions from hoteliers, bed and breakfast owners and restaurateurs who expressed anger and frustration at the way the website operates.

One B&B owner, John Holder, left the master-class at the Park Plaza Hotel at Westminster Bridge comparing the US-based organisation – unfavourably – to the Catholic Church. “It extends itself globally looking for money to send to Rome – or rather America,” he said. “It treats owners as if it is far above them, in another world. I can’t help feeling its headquarters is just one massive computer.”

TripAdvisor describes itself as the world’s biggest travel review site and claims 5m people across the globe look at its 40m reviews and opinions every day.

But there is concern among many British hoteliers that the site does not do enough to monitor and remove what they see as unfair reports. A company specialising in protecting online reputations, KwikChex, has been inviting disenchanted hoteliers to join a class action against TripAdvisor – and has had hundreds of people say they want to take part.

The event at the Park Plaza was the opening salvo in a campaign by TripAdvisor to make itself appear less distant.

Not Too Sure About That

Karen Plumb, commercial director of business listings for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, accepted that not everyone was “wholly delighted” with TripAdvisor. She said some people felt “powerless” that they were not in control of their online reputation. Plumb said owners would now be able to contact the organisation via telephone – a common complaint is that they have to fill in a standard form on the site and receive generic responses – and she highlighted the “owner centre” that allows those dissatisfied with reviews to respond.

Among the first to ask questions was Jamie Butler, who helps run a yurt village and fly fishery in Hampshire. He expressed concern over the case of a customer who demanded money in exchange for not posting a bad review on TripAdvisor. Butler said he could not find a way of contacting TripAdvisor to tell them what had happened.

Alan Gillam, the owner of the Western Hotel in St Ives in Cornwall, said he felt it was unfair that one damning review could devastate small businesses like his. Other sites allow owners to get a certain number of reviews removed – but TripAdvisor’s stance is that would-be customers can see past the odd poor review if most are good. “It may have been just that it rained all week and a reviewer feels badly done by because the weather was bad,” said Gillam.

4 Comments View and Post Comments

  1. Prashant Karandikar November 11, 2010

    It doesn’t look so shiny to me. Um, is this the boring, peaceful kind of taking to the streets? This is the worst part. The calm before the battle.

    Your best is an idiot! Is today’s hectic lifestyle making you tense and impatient? Then we’ll go with that data file! Oh, I always feared he might run off like this. Why, why, why didn’t I break his legs? OK, this has gotta stop. I’m going to remind Fry of his humanity the way only a woman can. Dr. Zoidberg, that doesn’t make sense. But, okay!

  2. Liam McKay November 11, 2010

    Old people don’t need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied so it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use. Beer. Now there’s a temporary solution. Homer no function beer well without.

    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. You don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way. Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.

  3. Aaron Lynch November 11, 2010

    Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen. You know, the one with all the well meaning rules that don’t work out in real life, uh, Christianity. I’ll be back. You can’t keep the Democrats out of the White House forever, and when they get in, I’m back on the streets, with all my criminal buddies.

  4. Sevenpixels November 11, 2010

    Don’t act so surprised, Your Highness. You weren’t on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you. You mean it controls your actions? I’m trying not to, kid. Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. In my experience, there is no such thing as luck. He is here.