By now we’ve heard enough to know fraudulent, unverified reviews on heretofore sacrosanct review sites are rampant. In many ways, they’re a violation of the trust travelers place in those sites.
So, who will turn the tables and keep review sites and their reviews honest?
Kwikchex, the reputation-protection site led by co-founder and gadfly Chris Emmins, has been the leading force in exposing the dubious practices of review sites posting anonymous and unverified reviews.
Now, the move to hold review sites to a higher standard is gaining traction.
- TripAdvisor has been cited by UK authorities and told it can no longer state that its reviews are “honest” or from “real people,” because there is no way of verifying the accuracy or trustworthiness of posted reviews.
Since good reviews are critical to a hotel or brands success, destination mangers and hotel general managers are being held hostage to unscrupulous travelers, corrupting the review process.
- We are seeing “review bullies,” hotel guests or visitors to a destination demanding special services, free drinks or other amenities under the threat of writing and posting a negative review if they don’t get what they want.
Writing in tNooz, Linda Fox reports on the Kwikchex rating system for review sites. The process has the potential for being very interesting: It goes like this:
• Grade 1, Five Stars, goes to to those review sites where reviewers are identified, verified purchasers of the products/servicesbusinesses reviewed
• Grade 2, Four Stars, goes to those sites where the reviewers have provided proof of identification and offer proof of purchase
• Grade 3, Three Stars applies when there is a system in place that enables reviewers to offer proof of purchase
• Grade 4, Two Stars for sites where reviewers only provide e-mail addresses, and no proof of identity or purchase
• Grade 5, One Star, for those sites that do not fulfill one or more of the values contained in 1-4
Is it working? Kwikchex, moving toward being part of a “global consumer group, ” has already awarded a Five Star status to booking.com. TripAdvisor and Yelp have two stars.
We think reviewing the review sites is an idea whose time has come.