TripAdvisor has been criticised for the lingering impact that extremely negative comments left on its website can have on companies’ search results.
Speaking in a Travel Technology Europe debate last week on the power of positive reviews Steve Endacott, chief executive of the On Holiday Group, said he thought the review giant’s system was “badly flawed”.
Endacott told the audience he had started using Feefo, the authenticated review service, because it was clear all firms need to generate their own reviews but that they must be vindicated by a third party to be believed.
Having started requesting reviews through Feefo Endacott said his consumer sites like holidaynights.co.uk, were getting as 26% response rate, the vast majority of which were positive earning his brands valuable golden stars on Google search results.
The debate heard from the founder of review platform Reevoo Richard Anson, who said that firms which adopt a “sit back and wait” approach tend to get a disproportionate number of reviews from people who either love them or hate them posted on external sites like TripAdvisor.
Endacott said: “TripAdvisor is a commercial organisation trying to make money out of reviews,” he said. “Do I really want all my reviews going on TripAdvisor? No. By engaging and asking my customers to leave reviews on my site, do I have any evidence that they do not go to TripAdvisor? No. My instinct is they do.
“You have to let the consumer say what they want to say and you have to deal with it.”
Lowcost Holidays chief executive Lawrence Hunt said responding to negative reviews posted on TripAdvisor publically can turn the perception of your company on its head because you have been seem to respond.
But Endacott said: “The biggest problem I have got is how TripAdvisor deals with extreme comments and forums. The title never changes. On SEO that creeps up the page and that’s what people see. I think that the TripAdvisor system is badly flawed and should be changed.”
However, Endacott said he was uncomfortable about any form of moderation or censorship of reviews from customers because that left companies open to the accusation of interfering and skewing genuine feedback.
Hunt and Anson argued that some intervention was required to weed out any defamatory or insulting comments.
Anson said: “I think every review should be moderated. I would not advocate editing anything. As soon as you do that you take ownership. As a brand you should be publishing the good, the bad and the ugly but I do not think you should be publishing racist or defamatory reviews.”
Hunt said: “You have to moderate because some of the things people write are unpublishable. If you don’t you are going to get a lot of stuff on your website that will put people off coming to you.”