TripAdvisor legal threat could have implications for hostel booking sites

In news likely to give Hostelworld and Hostelbookers sleepless nights, British reputation management company KwikChex is threatening legal action in the US and UK against hotel review site TripAdvisor for defamation and libel.

The SMH reports the company wants the site to remove reviews that aren’t verified but allege crime, injury or illness. It also wants other unverified negative reviews taken down.

KwikChex is threatening to file a class action on behalf of unhappy hotel owners and travel providers.

TripAdvisor refuses to comment on potential legal action.

Hostelworld and Hostelbookers both carry user reviews. Properties are also ranked in various categories, with the results averaged to give an overall ranking.

Hostelworld account manager Oceania Kristy Carstairs said the company has systems in place to ensure reviews are genuine.

0 thoughts on “TripAdvisor legal threat could have implications for hostel booking sites

  • December 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    sometimes reviews are genuine other times not so genuine its a hard one we as operaters have to take complaints on board and try to better our product.
    Quite often we have the difficult customer that just post things that arent true
    about the product in retalition because they didnt get what they wanted so a lot
    of the time the complaints are not genuine.

  • December 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Very true, Deb. Check out Tripadvisor for Scotty`s: one of the latest (Be wary!) is a beaut, from a chap who obviously doesn`t understand the standard cancellation accommodation procedure.

    I pointed out to Trip that this feller was actually in breach of his booking agreement and that he didn`t stay, so why should his review remain, but they argued it was valid????!!!!

    There`s no doubt we, as owners and managers, prefer to see good reviews only: treality is our busineses DO have faults and we can`t please everyone.

    The issue, as Deb says, is that when guests are vexatious or complain about spiders or insects flying around outside when they are staying in the heart of a tropical region and other such Dur! complaints that are outside of human control, we can suffer unfairly.

    Systems can be abused, although some, Kristy, are better than others.

    Either way, they are vital for our bookings and it does make one aware of issues that may need attention, like it or not.

  • December 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Kristy, how do you conclusively separate fact from fiction with reviews?

  • December 6, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Hi Greg,

    Thankfully it doesn’t normally require the skills of Sherlock Holmes to figure out what’s fact or fiction when it comes to guest reviews. It’s simply a case of getting in contact with both the guest and hostel manager and getting to the bottom of the complaint. Whilst every guest is entitled to their opinion which will of course differ from one to another, if what they say is absolutely untrue (e.g. complaining about music from the bar when there is no bar) then I am able to step in. I spend a lot of time on the road and manage to get to visit most major destinations for hostel inspections regularly which makes it a lot easier to figure out who is telling the porky pies.

    Hostelworld also has the function to allow hostel managers to reply to the guests review online for all to see. So if s guest complains that the oven was broken during their stay, then the manager can address the issue by letting that guest and future guests know that that problem has now been fixed. Personal insults or bad language from either party are of course removed, and only guests who stayed in the hostel are invited to leave reviews and ratings.

  • December 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Negative comments can still work out in your favour. Along as you can reply to a comment, I see no problem with them. Negative reviews if real or fake can still work out good for your business.

    When viewing comments about any product, consumers don’t want to see continual positive comments, as we all know “nothings perfect”. If there all positive, you almost begin to think…. mmmm are these filtered??

    It is all about how you can turn a negative into a positive! Never hide from bad reviews and don’t leave them unanswered!! The average person spends 55 minutes a day online so if you can capture these reviews and reply in that window, all will be fine!

  • December 6, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Thanks Kristy, I agree with the dive in and deal with it directly approach. The sooner you throw water on it the less water you’ll eventually need.

  • December 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I agree with Kristy and Tui 100%. All feedback is good feedback. If you are an open and honest business then even the bad feedback can be handled in a positive manner.

    Skydive Abel Tasman, the company I work for, try to do our best to ensure customers post feed back for us. I also go out of my way to respond to such feedback and even in the case of slight complaints I have been able to correct and change the out come. Shame those operators in the UK and US can’t do the same.


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