The company representing over a hundred hoteliers threatening legal action against TripAdvisor is preparing for a transatlantic assault on the user review giant.
KwikChex, a UK-based hotel reputation management company, says over 120 hotels – mostly from the UK and US – have so far agreed to participate in the programme.
Co-founder of KwiChex, Chris Emmins, claims the number of hotels is increasing by the hour after announcing earlier today that it is considering legal action against Expedia-owned TripAdvisor if certain demands are not met.
The decision to go public with a threat follows a “frustrating” period for KwikChex when trying to deal with TripAdvisor over information contained in reviews for some of its hotel clients.
Many hoteliers, despite TripAdvisor’s policy of allowing a hotel the right to reply, are angry as they believe that comments in reviews are untrue and damaging to their business, or “legally unsubstantiated”.
Emmins says the hotels KwikChex is representing are being “seriously defamed” by comments ranging from food poisoning to accusations of assault by members of staff.
KwixChex is preparing to send TripAdvisor a dossier containing details of such alleged defamation and is demanding that it remove the comments or face a trip to the courts, possibly in the form of a class action – a process it is willing to front on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Emmins says it is likely that if TripAdvisor fails to respond positively to the requests of its clients then the first case would begin in a US court.
A TripAdvisor official says:
“We do not comment on either threatened or pending litigation.”
Emmins has a string of additional complaints against TripAdvisor which may be incorporated into the potential legal action.
These include demanding to see the algorithm behind the rating system for hotels when displayed as an overall rank within a city as well the strategy behind an email marketing campaign.
Emmins says clients are concerned about a bulletin titled Hotel Horror Stories which reproduces negative reviews of hotels and circulates to TripAdvisor members.
Emmins accuses TripAdvisor of “manipulating data for its own purposes” and the company is now “hyped up by its own conceit”.
The threatened legal action is still a long way from hitting the courts (as reported elsewhere today) but the strategy to go after the company for directly publishing defamatory statements rather than criticising the company for supposedly allowing bogus reviews is a new tact.
Emmins says that search giant Google has cooperated “very well” in the past when KwixChex has asked to correct errors in keyword advertising campaigns and elsewhere in the Google system, a solid understanding he hopes will be replicated at TripAdvisor in the coming weeks and months.
Only hoteliers on the wider KwikChex representation system will be included in the programme, Emmins confirms.