In the tourism & hospitality world, bogus comments and fake claims have been plaguing online review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp ever since their inception and remain to this day the biggest issue brands (and customers) have with these sites. Gartner published a report this past July called The Consequences of Fake Fans, “Likes’ and Reviews on Social Network which found many marketers engaging in both positive and negative review schemes using either cash, promotions or coupons as incentives to write a review.
So why would a brand bother with fake reviews to begin with? Mostly because review sites now play an enormous role in the travel decision making process. According to Google’s august 2012 survey The Traveler’s Road to Decision, reading reviews from other travelers is the 4th most popular travel planning activity, for both leisure and business travelers. Knowing TripAdvisor has over 60 million unique visitors per month, and over 75 million reviews, it thus becomes a key driver in both traffic and opinion-making towards travel brands. In fact, according to Forrester survey commissioned by TripAdvisor in 2011, 81% of travelers find user reviews important when determining which hotel to stay at during their trip.
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