Tripadvisor has been in the press a lot lately – and not always for the right reasons. Now the company is responding with a new ‘people like me’ function to filter out reviews that aren’t relevant to you. Will it work?
I’m not entirely convinced by the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and prefer to get views from people I know, or from acknowledged experts in the field.
So I’ve never been a massive fan of travel review sites like Tripadvisor. Although they might offer thousands of views, they don’t necessarily come from anyone I trust.
But I might be forced to think again after one of several announcements from the site made this week at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London – where Tripadvisor spoke at one of the busiest sessions.
Filter out irrelevant reviews
The site is launching a ‘people like me’ function that will allow us to filter the reviews so we see only the ones from people that reflect our interests.
How far this goes is unclear. You can certainly restrict the search to bring up results only from – for example – people with young families. But will I be able to specify people with young families who like holiday parks in rural parts of France?
Will I be able to narrow it even further to say I want reviews only from people who share my taste in music and think it’s important to use apostrophes correctly? Will I be able to screen out reviews from people whose main aim on holiday is to find something to complain about on Tripadvisor?
The more narrow I can make the search the better, as far as I’m concerned – not least because the narrower it becomes the less chance there should be of encountering a review posted by a serial complainer, or by a competitor of the establishment being reviewed.
How reliable are reviews?
Tripadvisor’s appearances at WTM followed a Channel 4 television documentary featuring hoteliers who had been the victim of what they saw as unfair reviews, as well as some enthusiastic (possibly over enthusiastic) Tripadvisor contributors.
The company chose WTM to tackle the issue, announcing it was launching a ‘customer care’ division to handle calls from people who wanted to complain about reviews on the site. Aimed at owners and managers who feel they’ve been unfairly treated on the site, the move is designed to emphasise its commitment to ensuring only genuine reviews appear.
The WTM audience was also told there are around 25 filters on the site – including checks of reviewer’s IP addresses – designed to screen out fake reviews before publication.
Yet the same week, the Advertising Standards Authority received a fresh complaint about Tripadvisor. Reputation management company Kwikchex is claiming that travel companies are using Tripadvisor reviews on their own sites without verifying the identity of the author – which it claims breaches advertising rules.
So the concern about the accuracy and motivation of Tripadvisor reviews is not going to go away. But once we can narrow the searches to a few select people, we should be more able to screen out the dodgy reviews.
Though if I get too enthusiastic about narrowing the search, I suppose I might be reading only reviews I posted myself.