The Telepgraph – Hotels ‘hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers’

blackmail-messageWe’ve heard a little chatter over the years about guests blackmailing hotels to remove negative reviews.  Our hoteliers from across the pond have been apparently experiencing the same problems.  From the Telegraph:

Hotels and restaurants are being targeted by “blackmailers” who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on the TripAdvisor website, hospitality chiefs have warned.

Guests are warning staff that they will post bad comments on the review website if they are not given better service, meals or upgrades.

Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat. They say the guests often make a complaint and say they will post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert or a bill reduction.

Other “gastronomic blackmailers” even claim that they work for TripAdvisor and will post a series of negative comments unless they get free upgrades.

Hopefully a solution is on the way.  From the article:

Martin Couchman, the deputy c
hief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said that he was in talks with TripAdvisor to improve the service.

“People threatening restaurants and hotels with bad TripAdvisor reviews to extort free things is a problem which has been growing,” he said.

“While it’s very difficult to put an exact figure on how widespread the problem is, it is clear that a small minority of online reviewers are directly blackmailing – or sometimes subtly blackmailing – restaurants for their own gain.

“People will either attempt to blackmail during the meal, or sometimes, more worryingly, people who have not even been to the restaurant will post a bad review to try to get a free meal, or a free stay in a hotel’s case. While it can be difficult to prove that somebody has blackmailed you, we would advise that business owners do not respond – or make free offers – to reviewers they suspect are malicious.”

He urged restaurateurs or hotel owners to contact TripAdvisor or the British Hospitality Association if they were having problems.

What can you do if you are being blackmailed?

  1. Report the blackmailer to TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.
  2. Be sure to respond to every single complaint on your hotel’s review sites.  When potential guests see a negative review, they almost always read the entire review and the follow up.  Most blackmailers post reviews and come off a crazy.  Those reviews will be quickly dismissed by others.
  3. Focus on the positive reviews.  If your hotel has only 2 reviews, and one of them states that you are the worst hotel ever built, that will mean trouble.  However, if your hotel has hundreds of incredible reviews, a few negative reviews wont hurt.

Source:  Telegraph Article

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