As anyone who has had a blog knows on a weekly basis you receive offers from some company or other to write reviews for different products and they will pay a small commission each time someone clicks on your review and/or buys a product you have recommended.
However, it is becoming the fashion by people who believe they are ‘popular‘ on social networks to reverse the process and they approach businesses to sponsor them for eating or sleeping for free in an establishment and in exchange they will give a glowing review.
This recently happened on TripAdvisor who were forced to delete a negative review of a Galician restaurant when they were sent the proof that it was written by someone who could not blackmail the company into giving freebies.
The reviewer contacted the restaurant saying “WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN COLLABORATING? IT WOULD CONSIST OF AN INVITATION FOR TWO PEOPLE IN EXCHANGE FOR PUBLISHING MY EXPERIENCE ON FACEBOOK, TRIPADVISOR AND SOCIAL MEDIA”.
The restaurant responded : “¿ESTÁS HABLANDO EN SERIO? A MÍ DE MAYOR ME GUSTARÍA SER COMO TÚ, AUNQUE POR RESPETO AL TRABAJO DE LOS DEMÁS (DEL CUAL NO CREO QUE SEAS CONSCIENTE) NUNCA SE ME OCURRIRÍA”
Roughly translated to something along the lines of “ARE YOU SERIOUS? ON YOUR BIKE!!
Nevertheless the reviewer decided to go to the restaurant anyway to get her revenge by giving the lowest mark possible and commented roughly as follows – Her experience was disastrous, service slow and unfriendly, food expensive and there was an unbearable smell : so nothing to recommend.
Faced with the proof of extortion and blackmail from those who want to make a living reviewing restaurants, TripAdvisor had no choice but to delete this particular review.
Similarly with hotel ratings, these are totally skewed. I have noticed some people give 5 star review ratings when requesting a specific room for their visit which may be several months in the future. I assume by giving the highest score on Tripadvisor, they assume the hotel will give them what they want. This is so common that it makes checking how good a hotel is a bit of a joke. I gave up after 8 such pages (that is about 40 individual reviews) on one hotel alone. Unlike eBay users who can only post on something they’ve actually purchased, on TripAdvisor anyone can post a review, without having to prove they’ve stayed or eaten in the hotel or restaurant they’re commenting on. The result of which is it’s not clear how much of it is reliable.
So next time you read recommendations, while the majority are genuine, there are those who will write whatever is needed as long as they are the ones to benefit.