There’s no cheating hard work

Meriton Property Services manipulates TripAdvisor reviews

Cheaters never win, or so the saying goes. As a hotelier, while it might be tempting to manipulate reviews, a recent federal court ruling against Meriton Property Services in Australia proves that there are no shortcuts when it comes to a hotel’s online reputation. The company was fined $3 million for using a sneaky trick that prevented customers from leaving potentially negative reviews on TripAdvisor.

When Meriton employees thought that guests might write negative reviews, staff would insert additional letters in front of the guests’ email addresses so TripAdvisor would receive incorrect guest email addresses. When TripAdvisor sent emails to guests prompting them to leave reviews of the hotel, the emails would bounce back. In other cases, Meriton would simply not provide guest email addresses to TripAdvisor at all.

As a result, Meriton benefited from higher rankings in its markets and more bookings. While many, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) commissioner, think that the penalty should’ve been much higher, the $3 million dollar fine sends a strong message to hoteliers: Play fair or face the consequences.

Revinate has been working with hoteliers to understand and improve their online reputation for close to a decade. In that time, we have been asked every question you can imagine about possible ways to cheat the system and our response is always the same: Focus on providing a great product, learning from your reviews, making the changes that guests want to see, and controlling what you can control. The rest will fall into place.

The truth is that some negative reviews are actually good for business for a couple of reasons:

  • First, consumers don’t trust reviews when all they see is positive feedback. No hotel can be perfect for every guest every time
  • Second, negative reviews open up the opportunity for a management response, which has been proven to carry more weight than the original review, according to TripAdvisor. If you’re wondering how to properly respond to negative online reviews, check out our blog post.

The bottom line is that there are better ways to get ahead than with masked reviews. Since frequency is a key ingredient in TripAdvisor’s ranking algorithm, hotels looking for better placement should focus on driving review volume. If you’re interested in learning how Revinate can help hotels collect reviews for TripAdvisor (and Google), let us know. Our Revinate Surveys customers who publish their surveys to TripAdvisor, for example, see an average 300%+ increase in new review volume and a 10%+ improved ranking. Occupancy has even been seen to increase by 1%. Do it the honest way. We can help.

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