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Inquiry launched into online review sites

05 March 2015 by

Hotel, restaurant and pub operators are being urged to share their views with a government-backed probe into online review sites.

In addition to investigating review and operator sites, web and video blogs, and social media; the CMA will also look at the role media companies, online reputation managers and search engine optimisers play in helping businesses to promote themselves and manage their image online.

Nisha Arora, senior director at the CMA, said: "Businesses have always known that 'word of mouth' is one of the most important factors for potential customers; what online reviews and blogs do is to provide a greatly amplified version of this. However, for this sector to work well it is important that this information is genuine, relevant and trustworthy."

Arora added that the CMA needs to better understand the impact of online review sites before considering whether to take further action.

The British Hospitality Association and the Bed and Breakfast Association (B&BA) both support the review and are encouraging hospitality operators to share their experiences on the impact of online review sites, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.

David Weston, chief executive of the B&BA, which represents 25,000 B&Bs and guest houses in the UK, said many members have suffered as a result of receiving detrimental reviews, which often turn out to be false.

"At present there is no way for our members to remove reviews or challenge the individuals behind them, if the websites themselves (as they often do) refuse to remove a false review. We'd like to see a situation where small businesses are given the chance to protect their valuable reputations that have often been established through hard work before sites like TripAdvisor even entered the public psyche."

All opinions regarding online review sites should be submitted to the CMA by 5pm on 25 March 2015 via: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/online-reviews-and-endorsements

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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