Restaurants and hotels risk a loss in revenue and an irreparable if they are caught writing fake online reviews, according to online reputation management consultancy GotJuice.co.uk.
Reviews and referrals count for an average of 70% of a company's new business, according to the company.
Traditionally, these referrals are made word of mouth and customer-to-customer but reviews and referrals are more frequently made and found online in today's technology driven environment.
Mark Hall, managing director at GotJuice, said: "Until recently it has been made very easy for opportunist business owners to enhance their company's online reputation by simply writing fake positive reviews and asking friends and family to do likewise without any repercussion.
"This, of course, amounts to nothing but fraudulent behaviour, but was seen as an easy route to not only enhance their own reputation but also - for some - as a way to harm their competitors by posting fake negative reviews about them."
"With advancements in technology, review platforms have started to launch new initiatives to rid their sites of fake reviews and name the guilty in the process," he explained." Yelp is the first to roll out the technology and it is expected that TripAdvisor and other major review platforms will follow suit shortly.
"Any business that publishes fake reviews or pays for reviews will have their profiles] branded with a stamp that informs the consumer that they can't be trusted."
He said that GotJuice welcomes the move and added that "if caught, the mud will, and should, stick to the guilty parties for a long time".
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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