Large number of TripAdvisor reviews “suspicious”

“Considerable proportion” of user reviews unreliable
A “large and considerable proportion” of TripAdvisor hotel customer reviews may be unreliable or fake, and reviews for lower-tier hotels deserve a harder look, a new study claims.
Around 20% of reviews on the site show considerable discrepancy between the overall rating and the aggregate category rating, translating to over 0.5 score points, the study of more than 42,000 reviews concluded. The study was conducted by university academics Markus Schuckert and Rob Law.
TripAdvisor allows reviewers to leave two types of numerical ratings for hotels – one for overall rating and separately, six specific scores for service, value, sleep quality, cleanliness, location and rooms.
According to the study, signs that arose suspicion included two reviews for which the overall hotel rating was a perfect score of five but the six specific qualities were only rated one or two.
Comparing the ratings with the corresponding written comments, one of the reviews seemed to fit the perfect rating, suggesting that the category ratings were unrepresentative of the customer experience, whereas the other review seemed more consistent with an overall low rating, suggesting that the high overall rating was misleading.
The research also revealed that in general, higher-tier hotels had less of a gap in their ratings than lower class hotels. This could suggest that “the problem of suspicious online ratings” may be more serious among the lower-class hotels.
It remains unclear if discrepancies are caused by deliberate manipulation or by “perfunctory rating behaviour”, but the researchers nevertheless urge customers to “pay more attention to the rating gap” on TripAdvisor.
They also suggest that TripAdvisor provide a warning to reviewers who “may have made a mistake or may not be taking the rating seriously” if they try to post a review with ratings that differ by more than 0.5.
TTG Asia

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