Now, two years on and the saga continues to rumble with the latest:¬†a ruling from a Tennessee, US ¬†judge regarding TripAdvisor’s Dirtiest Hotel list going in the user review giant’s favour.
The court found there was no defamation caused by including the Grand Resort, Pigeon Forge in the 2011 list and said:
It does not appear to the Court that a reasonable person could believe that TripAdvisor’s article reflected anything more than the opinions of TripAdvisor’s millions of online users.
Kwikchex’s role in the lawsuit, similar to the work it has done with the Advertising Standards Authority, was to provide material demonstrating how unverified reviews sites can be abused with the placing of fake reviews.
So, where does that leave all parties?
In January, the ASA ordered TripAdvisor to stop claiming reviews were real, honest and trusted. While the reviews giant made changes to its marketing copy, it also said the ruling had ‘no material impact on business’.
TripAdvisor points out that Comscore figures show a 30% increase in UK visitors to its site in the past two years.
Does that make it nil-nil or one-all – it’s hard to say.
TripAdvisor didn’t suffer – in fact, it hit back at Kwikchex in April for undermining confidence in review sites because of the reputation firm’s scheme to, rather ironically, review the review sites.
Kwikchex fights on for individual hotels and other businesses which believe they have fallen victim to fraudulent reviews as well as tackling the problem of fake good reviews. It claims success in terms of a wider understanding of how easily review sites can be abused.
CEO Chris Emmins says:
“It’s apparent when you see the amount of coverage that has been generated – and it is noticeable that comments from the public have very much swung round to scepticism.
“But the important thing is to try and ensure that the lack of diligence on so many reviews sites does not completely undermine honest feedback. That’s something we are working on right now – getting the most reliable information possible to the top of search results.”
TripAdvisor is not without its own scepticism:
“While we respect the desire of travel companies to seek advice from agencies on how to manage their reputations online, we would advise businesses to bear in mind the commercial motives of agencies offering such services, and to have a healthy scepticism of those who claim to have detailed knowledge of the integrity processes or to have a special ability to influence online review sites such as TripAdvisor.”
Emmins adds that most review sites and companies that post reviews including Google are quicker to respond and that the ‘clear up rate’ is getting faster. Emmins also says companies now provide designated people for Kwikchex to deal with directly.
And most consumers are probably protected by the balance that comes with millions of reviews and opinions, a line that has always been pushed by TripAdvisor.
So, that just leaves the hotels and businesses with unresolved issues but, says Emmins, Kwikchex is about to initiate¬†new actions to help sort those out.
NB: Boxing gloves image via Shutterstock.