TripAdvisor has defended its decision not to remove a review of a hotel that hosts Ministry of Defence (MoD) personnel, despite the owner's concerns that it could compromise security ahead of the Olympics.
A TripAdvisor user recently posted a review of the hotel, which has requested to remain nameless, speculating that it must "survive solely on MoD employees" and was "clean but not worth the £69 they charge the MoD nor the £79 they charge everyone else".
The director of the hotel contacted Caterer and Hotelkeeper to highlight the issue, after TripAdvisor declined to remove the review when he explained the situation.
"As hoteliers we have regular e-mails from the government booking agency saying that we are not to refer to the MoD, MoD guests, use the words MoD, or do anything else that suggests they are using the hotel. They are actually quite forceful on it," he said.
"It is a hotel near a major military garrison and near an Olympic route. This is another example of TripAdvisor not listening to hoteliers. I am not concerned about the review itself, what I am concerned about is the security issue.
"I flagged it up to the government booking agency to let them know this had happened and I have had an e-mail back from them saying they will looking into it. But if TripAdvisor aren't going to remove a review at this time of year, with the security surrounding the Olympics, it is just ridiculous. They shouldn't be allowed to be a law unto themselves. And as a family-owned business it is even worse for me because it is not just my business and my staff - we live here as well, and we have got some idiot flagging it up as a target for terrorists."
But TripAdvisor was unmoved by the hotelier's concerns. In a response a spokeswoman said: "Our moderation team has investigated the review in question and found it to meet our guidelines. It will therefore be staying on the site.
"It's also important to point out that in previous management responses a representative of the property (the ‘manager') refers to their special MoD rate and openly informs users that guests from the MoD stay at the property, and has done so since 2006 (and as recently as March this year)."
Meanwhile, the British Hospitality Association's members are calling for greater transparency on TripAdvisor's specialist algorithms, which it claims allows it to spot fake reviews.
The BHA, which has recently held a workshop in association with TripAdvisor to try and work through some of its members' grievances with the reviews website, now has plans to hold a dialogue on a more frequent basis.
It has also suggested to TripAdvisor that reviews contested by operators should be suspended until the issue has been resolved.
By Neil Gerrard
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