HNN: What is your stance on fake reviews and what is TripAdvisor doing to combat them?
SK: “We’ve been dealing with the issue for 10 years now so we have a decade of expertise at catching folks that are trying to spam our system. Ninety-eight percent of our audience when we surveyed ‘Do you trust the reviews,’ the answer was ‘yes’ because they read the reviews, they go and they stay and it matched expectations. The system works.
“I totally understand hoteliers being concerned if they get a bad review and some will immediately assume it’s false. Everyone I know comes in, looks at the overall picture and they throw out the best review and they throw out the worst and they form an opinion on the rest. If you’re delivering a good service and that one horrible review comes up—maybe fraudulent or maybe because the person just got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning—it will disappear in a few weeks because the new reviews will take its place. So we know that the fake review is not an issue when you look at the overall volume of reviews we have.
“We also know that hoteliers, it’s almost their personal reputation, so they care a lot about it, as they should. Because everyone’s entitled to their opinion, we wanted hoteliers to be entitled to their opinion. And so with every review, good or bad, the hotel can write a management response to tell their side of the story. Sometimes the best response is: ‘I’m really sorry you had a long wait to check in. We find that unacceptable as well. We apologize and we sincerely hope you’ll give us a try again.’ As a consumer, if I read that, I say, ‘You know, that stuff happens.’ But, if I read that in 10 reviews I’m not going to stay there because they actually do have a problem.”