Online reviews website TripAdvisor is at the centre of another controversy, after it introduced a new "rating" system which allows reviewers to leave restaurants and hotels a score out of five without even leaving a review.
Hospitality businesses have contacted Caterer and Hotelkeeper to express their concern about the new development.
Some businesses have seen their profile on TripAdvisor generate many new ratings in just a few days, which has begun to affect their overall standing on the site. But they are frustrated that not all the users who have left ratings can be identified, nor, because of the absence of a written review, can business owners tell why they received a particular score.
Richard Bradford, who owns Porters English restaurant in Covent Garden, London, and the Covent Garden Grill said: "At least with reviews you knew where they were coming from and what the problem was, and you could respond.
"Now with these ratings there is nothing you can do. There seems to be a vastly higher percentage of poor and terrible ones for Porters and these will completely distort our ratings for TripAdvisor."
Meanwhile, the Cock and Bull restaurant in Balmedie, Scotland said on Twitter: "These ratings can be given anonymously making the management response facility defunct. Now if you get a bad rating you have no idea why!"
A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor said that the ratings were coming from either TripAdvisor or Facebook members, all of whom the business claims to have profile information on.
However the new ratings system, which was introduced at the start of this week is "in development" and profile information is not available for all ratings at the moment.
"The recently highlighted ratings provide yet another source of insight from which travellers can make an educated decision when planning their trips," she said.
"Ratings enable travellers to rate accommodation properties, restaurants and attractions with a simple overall score out of five. This contribution option allows travellers to quickly rate hospitality businesses to compliment standard reviews, giving users another source of insight when planning their trips."
- Thoughts on the new TripAdvisor ratings? Email Neil Gerrard with your comments.
By Neil Gerrard
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Published by: The Caterer