Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Will TripAdvisor Offer Verified Reviews?

Those in accommodation industry that have long bemoaned the rise of TripAdvisor have been quick to claim a moral victory when the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK earlier this year ruled that the bylines on TripAdvisor's website such as “reviews you can trust…from real travellers…and trusted advice from real travellers”, were misleading.

It was determined that TripAdvisor's open platform that allows "unverified" reviews to be posted by anonymous users did not 100 percent safeguard against fake reviews.

While TripAdvisor has made subtle changes to its advertising to satisfy the ASA decision, the site remains an open forum that can be accessed by anyone and continues to be used by more people researching accommodation decisions than any other website.

As the gnashing of teeth amongst accommodation providers continue, the public continue to visit the site, use the collective reviews to determine accommodation decisions....and seem to value what they find as they keep coming back for more.

In a significant new move, it is interesting to see that TripAdvisor are now packaging their review platform to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) that wish to outsource guest review services. is the first cab off the rank and have replaced their own in-house guest review system by outsourcing this function to TripAdvisor.

After a guest has stayed at accommodation booked via the website, a co-branded follow-up email is sent directing customers to complete a review of the property in the usual way. The verified guest reviews will be featured on the accommodation provider's listing on and mirrored on TripAdvisor.

Does this mean that potentially, TripAdvisor could highlight on their website, reviews sourced from a growing list of OTA clients as "verified"?

While some may see TripAdvisor's new service as a reaction to the flak they have received about questionable reviews, this may only be a small part of the rationale.

OTAs that have launched guest review systems in order to assist quality control and boost accommodation buying decisions have found that maintaining these platforms take a lot of ongoing resource. While OTAs are experts at showcasing and selling room inventory, they are less proficient at entering conversations with the public and suppliers about customer feedback issues. Outsourcing this function seems to make a lot of sense.

From TripAdvisor's point of view, by offering a new service they can continue building their vast empire by canabilising potentially competing review systems and have the opportunity to clip the ticket along the way...    

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