How Does TripAdvisor Determine Whether a Review Is Biased?

Even when a person has visited a hotel or restaurant, their review could still breach our guidelines if it is biased. Here we describe some of the scenarios in which a review could be considered biased...

In order for reviews to be useful and accurate, they should be based on real and impartial customer experiences. By this we mean that there should not be any ulterior motive for someone to leave a review other than to share an honest account of their own personal experience. We consider any review that is predisposed to be either positive or negative to be biased and therefore against TripAdvisor guidelines.

Here are a few scenarios which might lead to biased reviews:

Paid Reviews

Reviews that a business has attempted to purchase are biased and do not provide travellers with the impartial advice they are looking for. They are also unfair to hard-working businesses that play by the rules. Fortunately, our team of investigators is very effective at catching those who claim to offer reviews for hire, and we take firm action against businesses that try to use such services. You can learn more about how we catch reviews like this here.

Incentivized Reviews

Incentives are rewards or preferential treatment offered by a business in return for a review. Examples include offering discounts or reduced prices on a current or future experience in exchange for a review, or even promising upgrades, vouchers or any special treatment in return for reviews.

TripAdvisor encourages businesses to ask all customers to write reviews and share their feedback. However, we do not allow offering any kind of incentive for a review because this can impact the impartiality of that review. Under our incentives policy, we penalize any businesses that are found to be offering incentives to customers.

Blackmail

Any attempt to threaten a business with a bad review in exchange for a discount or preferential treatment is strictly against TripAdvisor guidelines. We take this type of behavior very seriously, because not only is it an abuse of a reviewer’s status on our site that does nothing to help other travellers, it is also illegal in many countries. We ask business owners who have experienced this type of behavior to report the threat immediately using our dedicated reporting tools. The reports we receive assist our investigations and help us prevent reviews resulting from blackmail from being posted to the site.

Employee or Family Reviews

TripAdvisor doesn’t allow individuals who are affiliated with a business to post reviews about that business. The reason for this is simple: if you have a personal connection to a business, you are unlikely to write an impartial review, which is unfair both to travellers and to other businesses listed on the site. This applies to reviews written by a business owner’s staff, business associates, friends or family members. We also refer to these types of reviews as Review Boosting (you can learn more about what we mean by Review Boosting here).

Our tracking system can spot reviews that are submitted by someone with a personal connection to the business they are reviewing, including its members of staff, friends and family. When our system spots a review like this, it triggers an investigation by our team and blocks the review to prevent it from being posted.

Businesses and customers can also report any reviews which they suspect may be biased. This too will trigger an investigation by our team. Business owners can do this via the Management Centre (which they can access for free), while travellers can report reviews simply by clicking on the flag icon displayed beneath each review.

Competitor Reviews

If someone is associated with a business, they are not allowed to review that business’ nearby competitors under our guidelines. The most notable example of this is when a business tries to deliberately damage a competitor’s reputation by submitting negative reviews. We refer to this as Review Vandalism and we apply strong penalties to any business caught attempting to do it.

You can read more about how we catch competitor reviews here.

Last Updated: 13 July 2018