We often get this question from hoteliers: Will TripAdvisor remove bad reviews? In most cases, the answer is no. But there are a few specific circumstances under which TripAdvisor will remove a bad review. Here’s how to determine whether the review in question is eligible for removal, how to make your request, how to respond, and what to do in the meantime.
1. Your property has been renovated
If you can prove that your property has undergone major renovations, TripAdvisor may delete some of your old reviews to give your hotel a fresh start. But first, you’ll have to submit proof of major structural changes like alterations to hotel layout, the installation of new guest rooms or bathrooms, or complete property overhauls. Changes that are merely cosmetic, like new paint, curtains, or furniture, do not qualify.
According to TripAdvisor’s support page on the topic, as proof of your renovation you will be asked to submit one of the following documents:
- Online press release with the publication’s letterhead documenting the renovation
- Notarized copies of building/work permits
- Notarized copies of the trades’ invoices for materials and labor
- Notarized letter from city officials or Tourist Board verifying the scope of renovation and duration of the closure
In this case, you should definitely update the photos of your property on your TripAdvisor page while you wait for the approval of your request. You should also feel free to respond to some of your old reviews, and let your guests know that you’ve heard and understood their complaints, and as a result, your hotel has gotten a major facellift!
2. The review violates TripAdvisor’s guidelines
Reviews on TripAdvisor must adhere a very specific set of guidelines. Reviews must be:
- Family-friendly – No profanity, threats, prejudiced comments, hate speech, sexually explicit language, or other content that is not appropriate for our community. Click here for more information.
- Written by actual travelers – We accept reviews that detail first-hand experiences with the facilities or services of an establishment. General discussion that does not detail a substantial experience will not be posted. Click here for more information.
- Relevant to other travelers – No content that is not relevant to trip planning and research. Click here for more information.
- Unique and Independent – You may write one review on any given accommodation, restaurant, or attraction per visit. Click here for more information.
- Original – No substantial quoted material from other sources, including (but not limited to) websites, e-mail correspondence, other reviews, etc.
- Non-commercial – No promotional material of any kind, including self-promotional URLs. We reserve the right to reject any URL, e-mail address, or phone number for any reason.
- Submitted for an appropriate property – Your review must be for an accommodation, restaurant, or attraction that meets our listing requirements.
- Age requirement – No reviews by children under the age of 13
- Valid email address and standard email formatting:
- The email address associated with your account must be correct; we may need to contact you if there is a problem with your review.
- No HTML tags and no excessive ALL CAPS, slang, formatting issues, repeated text, or typographic symbols.
- Use the correct alphabet for the language in which you are writing. Do not transliterate into another alphabet.
- Do not add unnecessary characters in order to reach the minimum character count for reviews.
If you feel that you’ve received a review that does not adhere to these guidelines, you can report it to TripAdvisor for removal. CLICK HERE for instructions on how to make your request.
3. You are being blackmailed
While rare, we do occasionally hear the story of the guest who said, “Give me a free upgrade or I’ll give you a bad review,” or something of the like. TripAdvisor does have a procedure in place to protect hoteliers against blackmail. In this situation, you need to be ahead of the game. The minute you get a verbal or written blackmail threat, you need to report the incident to TripAdvisor, even before the review is potentially submitted. Retain any evidence or paperwork and keep careful notes on the incident. Then, submit a report via the TripAdvisor management center immediately, ideally on the same day.
Once your report is submitted, if a low-rated review matching the details of your report is submitted on your business, the TripAdvisor support team will be alerted. TripAdvisor handles each blackmail report on a case-by-case basis, and review thedirect evidence and peripheral information available to us before making a decision. You may be contacted for additional information that proves blackmail was involved.
I’ve submitted my request, but the review is still out there! What do I do now?
Once you’ve submitted your request, the next step is to reply publicly to the review ASAP. It may take some time for TripAdvisor to remove the review, and prospective guests will still be able to see it online in the meantime.
In your response, the most important thing is to avoid getting angry or defensive. 64% of users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review “makes me less likely to book that hotel,” according to a 2012 PhoCusWright report. But, if you respond correctly, it can actually help you, as 84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel.”
In the case of a fraudulent review, damage control is the primary objective. You can try responding like this:
“I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience. Unfortunately we’ve searched our records, and we have no evidence of your stay. If you’re willing, will you please contact us privately so we can get to the bottom of this?”
Again, whatever you do, don’t get defensive. Keep your cool, and remember to put on a good face for any prospective guests who might read your response.