The big flaws in online hotel reviews…

Internet Symbol by Micky2We all know that, like it or not, online reviews have become increasingly important when it comes to pushing ‘lookers’ into ‘bookers’.  Yet the sheer number of reviews being submitted (40 per minute on TripAdvisor) and the scope for fraud yield some pretty weird results.


The Wall Street Journal points out in a recent article that Candlewood Suites hotel near Dallas Love Field airport is ranked No. 11 among Dallas hotels on TripAdvisor. On Expedia, EXPE +0.78% however, reviewers rank that Candlewood at No. 368.

Factors that can affect rankings include:

  • the number of hotels listed on the site
  • the total number of reviews
  • whether websites themselves tinker with the rankings
  • whether questionable reviews are effectively policed by moderators.

TripAdvisor says it is vigilant against review “mills” and “reputation management” firms offering to stuff the ballot box for hotels willing to pay, as well as websites like that are full of people offering to post batches of fake reviews money.  They also claim that customers and hotels themselves are able to police the site for fake or inflated reviews.

“It just works,” said Mr. Medros, vice president of global product for TripAdvisor. “The site wouldn’t have grown as it has without users coming back and saying the information was useful.”

The WSJ counsels readers to be cautious: “While experts say what matters most to shoppers is the hotel’s overall score, it pays to read the reviewers’ comments, discounting the highs and lows.”

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