Fake TripAdvisor Reviews Push ‘world’s Best’ Hotels Up the Rankings – Which?

UK’s second-biggest hotel chain Travelodge also caught trying to manipulate reviews

Some of the highest-ranked hotels on TripAdvisor reached the top by using fake reviews, a new investigation from Which? Travel has shown.

We analysed almost 250,000 hotel reviews on the site, comparing the profile of five-star reviewers with those who left only three stars. While it’s been suggested in the past that fake reviews are most common on small B&Bs and guesthouses, we looked at the highest-profile hotels in their respective regions.

The 15 that looked most blatantly suspicious included some of the best-rated hotels in the Middle East, four of the best-rated hotels in Las Vegas, and one of the hotels in Britain’s second-biggest hotel chain, Travelodge. When we reported them to TripAdvisor, it admitted that 14 of them – 93% – had been caught with dodgy reviews in the past year.

The best hotels in the world

Anybody Googling ‘the best hotel’ in their holiday destination will be presented with a TripAdvisor top 10 among the first results. We looked at the top tens for tourist destinations around the world.

In Las Vegas two of the top 10 had received almost half (48% and 41%) of their five-star reviews from reviewers who’d never reviewed anywhere else. Two more had a surprisingly high number of once-only reviewers. On its own this might not be a red flag. TripAdvisor points out that even genuine reviewers’ were first-timers once but, coupled with further analysis of other star ratings, it raised our suspicions.

For other cities we looked at, including London, Paris, Cape Town and Barcelona, we did not find these extreme patterns. In Las Vegas, our results suggested, some of the hotels were exploiting weaknesses in TripAdvisor’s fakes prevention system to boost their ratings and get themselves higher up the page.

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