Can TripAdvisor be trusted?

Many people rely on Trip Advisor before choosing a place to eat but can every review be trusted? Food for Thought asks restaurants what they think.

TripAdvisor is the self proclaimed largest travel website in the world providing reviews of all things travel including things to do, hotels to visit and restaurants to dine in.

Despite its popularity, Trip Advisor is seen to be controversial. This is due to the open nature of the website which enables anyone with an email address to write a review.

The site relies on the honesty of the authors but can every review be trusted? Watch this video to find out more: 

Gary Usher, owner of four different restaurants in the UK (Burnt Truffle, Sticky Walnut, Hispi Bistro and Wreckfish), is against TripAdvisor and caused a public stir in the media when he wrote a false review to his own restaurant:

Usher wrote his own review to prove that anyone can write anything.

‘Trip Advisor have not got back to me since I wrote a ridiculous review of my own restaurant, they don’t care,’ said Usher.

The main problems that Usher has with Trip Advisor include the lack of proof needed of who you are and whether you’ve even eaten in the establishment you’re writing about, and the fact that he cannot protect his staff from what people say on the site.

Gary Usher

When talking about Trip Advisor, Usher said: ‘I hate it, I get so wound up about it. For the people who need Trip Advisor – the people who depend on it, it’s shattering when every review you read says something either dishonest or slanderous – it’s heart wrenching’.

Trip Advisor claim that their legal team work closely with their moderation team to evaluate claims of slanderous material on a case-by-case basis.

‘I hate Trip Advisor, I get so wound up about it.’

‘Our terms of use clearly state that anyone submitting content to our site agrees not to post libellous or defamatory material. We therefore take any allegations of defamatory content on our site very seriously. Whenever such an allegation is brought to our attention, we review the content in question, and if it is deemed to be in breach of our guidelines, we will remove it,’ said Hayley Coleman, Media Relations Manager for Trip Advisor UK.

Usher also strongly dislikes the leniency of writing a review and says that he could easily make his business go to the top of the ranking system and jeopardise local competitors ranks by giving them a “sh**” review.

Burnt Truffle,  one of Gary’s restaurants in Wirral.

‘If I just opened a restaurant and I want to go to number one I can create 100 different email addresses and I could write 100 5* reviews and my restaurant will go to the top,’ said Usher.

Trip Advisor disagree with Usher as they have faith in their ability to catch fraudsters, and believe that they are the “industry leaders” when it comes to online fraudulent reviews.

‘Every single Trip Advisor review goes through our tracking system, which maps the how, what, where and when of each review before it is published. Many people won’t be aware but fraudsters actually leave behind lots of patterns and traces that we can catch,’ explained Coleman.

Trip Advisor believe that reviews on their site provide consumers with “useful” and “accurate” information.

These four restaurants in Canterbury are proof that not every business agrees with this claim.

Watch this video to see what they really think about Trip Advisor.