Has TripAdvisor lost its relevance?

As a restaurateur with two businesses listed on TripAdvisor, we noticed a change when Priceline bought TripAdvisor. Apart from the modernised interface, the slight colour change and a few other updates, the biggest change I noticed as a business owner was the introduction of paid-for listings.

It’s a clear revenue grab by the behemoth that separates regular listings from premium advertisers, who can now choose their preferred review and preferred photos to be seen by visitors to the site. In essence, the introduction of a 2-tier model which directly promotes paying businesses over everybody else. Even the spirit of objective reviews (which left the platform long ago) is now duly departed.

Our regular guests frequently say they don’t give any credit to reviews on TripAdvisor anymore because there are too many haters out there with nothing better to do than complain and try to get something for free. It’s as if they believe they are entitled to be rewarded for being an arsehole. And when they aren’t, they distort the reality with false claims online from behind an anonymous avatar and get their friends to join in when you put your side of the story.

TripAdvisor has become the parade ground of online lynch mobs.

We serve hundreds of guests every month and, while there are occasions when things don’t always go perfectly (staff fail to show up for a multitude of excuses, juniors take the food to the wrong table meaning it has to be recooked and causes delays, equipment breaks down – the list goes on), 99% have a great time and are realistic enough to know it’s a one-off. But the 1% seek only to exploit the situation or, worse, invent issues which put the establishment in an impossible position. It’s like being blackmailed for free stuff and the response to a business who refuses to be so exploited is to receive a series of 1* reviews which have no real bearing on the reality. Most happy diners rarely leave reviews, instead choosing to share their feelings with their friends, leaving TripAdvisor to become the parade ground of online lynch mobs.

Not only that, when you look at the reviews, TripAdvisor only shows you the English ones and hides the non-English ones, even though you have selected “All Languages”. I may be English and have an English browser, but if I select “All Reviews” I expect to see all of them and not be subject to a behemoth’s arbitrary bias especially when many of the non-English reviews are recent and glowing and balance the haters who tried (and failed) to get something for free. Oh, and TripAdvisor bills itself as “unbiased reviews”, so this is a clear misrepresentation of what it actually does.

TripAdvisor is no longer Unbiased either

There are so many places people can post reviews now – Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Yelp, Zomato, Time Out, Quandoo, Open Table, etc – that there is no leading light in the splintered world of online reviews. A couple of years ago I would have said, without a doubt, that TripAdvisor was the place to see our reviews. But now there’s such a broad spread from Quandoo to TripAdvisor to Facebook to Google that I now believe that TripAdvisor has lost its dominance, if not relevance.

What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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