I was recently embroiled in another sad tripadvisor dispute (I say it’s good, they say it’s bad! – for those that read Italian or have the patience to cope with an auto-translate it’s here). In a nutshell, (my nutshell obviously):
- people (in Italy) are still hysterical about what they hear about false reviews (they often report stories they have heard about rather than having first-hand experience)
- people (in Italy) fall hook, line and sinker for the over-excited and sensationalist press they read about tripadvisor and review platforms in general
- people (in Italy) react with gut instinct to any bad reviews, normally involving their emotions to a high degree and clouding their common sense
- people (in Italy) do not have the skills or competence to handle (good and bad) the reviews that land in their email each morning
- people (in Italy) are not all Italians!
It genuinely gets me fired up when people (read business owners) get so indignant and outraged about “false” tripadvisor reviews. Our company handles many tripadvisor accounts on behalf of our clients. Many more per day than any single hotel/restaurant/museum etc owner could possibly handle; we really see every single version of every single review ever written in every language, every day, every week, every month. If they put the amount of time and energy they put into completely senseless anti-review platform stances (people get mad at tripadvisor, but that’s cos they have yet notice yelp, G+ and others), into learning how to handle reviews, mine would be a happy universe. Oh and by the way, the more they complain about false reviews, the more their own accounts (not only tripadvisor but all the others) show that their own business/product/brand is seriously sub-standard, dogged by negative and bad reviews, but not false reviews. Fact. 100% of the time.
So what do we really see during our average work day?
For the most part:
- people (real people, not chefs, not food experts, not hotel conoisseurs who have travelled the world; just regular normal people who make up 95% of your business by the way) describing their subjective opinions about their personal experiences
- some people who write very well, are able to be objective and write constructively
- some people who obviously do not express themselves particularly well
- some people who have an opinion (that’s ok) and whose personal tastes are of dubious quality (that’s ok too, just as long as we are clear that although you want ketchup on everything, it doesn’t mean it will be provided – the customer is not always right!) – and other readers will take into account their weird personal preferences when reading the review
For a lesser part:
- genuine mistakes – people who review talking about lasagne in a restaurant that doesn’t serve lasagne, refering to a terrace that doesn’t exist, or a waiter’s name that has never been on the payroll. Hey – people make mistakes, get confused, mix things up. Just point it out in your answer.
- obviously highly emotional and potentially offensive reviews, written by people who maybe have a point, but are writing in such a fashion as to intentionally cause maximum damage (classic phrases are “don’t go here”, “avoid at all costs” etc.)
- bad reviews written by people who had a bad general experience and are unable to separate the general bad from the businesses performance (“it was raining, the kids were tired and horrible, we couldn’t find a parking space, the streets were too narrow, we don’t understand Italian signs, my feet were hurting after a day of sightseeing” etc.)
Really really rarely:
- a patently false review – for example the same review placed on 3/4/5 restaurants all located in the same area (easy to get removed)
- reviews written by a person that has a single review (the bad one about you) that are generally vague and badly written (and count very little in the grand scheme of things)
I want to tell you about a REAL problem!
People who create fake business cards pretending to be tripadvisor employees in order to gain a free meal/free night:
This charming individual made the rounds of several of our customers here in Florence, who were astute enough to phone us first before accepting. But I wonder how many great free meals and good bottles of wine this lovely chap (and his best buddy) managed to put away.
Small-fry travel websites/bloggers who attempt the same thing in return for “exposure” on their social media channels:
Let’s look past the abysmal communication by someone who didn’t even run their text through a spell checker (and that speaks volumes!), on to what they are actually proposing. Of course checking out their site, facebook page and twitter account took a few seconds and confirmed the invalidity of their scheme. Plus this account, like so many in Florence, is a fab restaurant where every single day we find mentions for them across a multitude of social media channels, all from paying customers! We turned them down on behalf of our client, nicely, and they didn’t even write back. Filthy rat bags.
Now these people in general are total scumbags. If you want to worry about someone doing the dirty or pulling a fast one, worry about these guys. It’s energy better spent!
By the way, inviting a known blogger to eat/stay for free in acceptance of whatever they write, good or bad, is a different kettle of fish, and best of all are bloggers/journalists with real clout (and klout) who do not identify themselves and pay the bill!