The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched a formal investigation into claims that hotel and restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor are misleading and untrustworthy.
The inquiry follows the presentation of a report to the ASA by online reputation management firm KwikChex.com outlining tens of thousands of examples of defamatory comments and misrepresentation on the review site.
Amongst the issues to be investigated by the ASA are claims by TripAdvisor that it posts "reviews you can trust", "reviews from real travellers", "trusted advice from real travellers" and "more than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from real travellers around the world".
Chris Emmins, co-founder of KwikChex, said that he wished to challenge the claimed trustworthiness of the TripAdvisor site. "The objectives are to have an impartial examination of the degree of abuse taking place - and what is actually being done to stop it," he said.
TripAdvisor spokesperson Laurel Greatrix said that the company did not comment on current or potential regulatory investigations or litigation.
However, she said a recent PhoCusWright study commissioned by TripAdvisor claimed that 98% of respondents found the site's hotel reviews to be an accurate reflection of the actual experience, with 69% stating the reviews to be highly or extremely accurate.
"We take the authenticity of our reviews very seriously and have numerous methods to ensure the legitimacy of the content on TripAdvisor, including automated site tools, a team of review integrity experts, and our large and passionate community of millions of travellers that help us identify suspicious content," said Greatrix. "We devote thousands of hours each year to battling fraud and improving our fraud detection efforts to ensure the integrity of our content.
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs