It’s (possibly) a faaake!

Really good piece in the LV Sun today about the rise of phony online hotel reviews, and what travel sites are doing about them:

The rise of traveler-generated online reviews has forced hotel managers to contend with anonymous posts from angry or disappointed customers.

For people in the business of promoting Las Vegas hotels, it has also opened the door for sneak counterattacks in the form of bogus positive reviews created to boost their clients’ image among the traveling public.

via Customer may not have written that online hotel review – Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | 2:01 a.m. – Las Vegas Sun.

The potential for industrial espionage is just about unlimited with online reviews. With a lot of money at stake, I’m not surprised that some people would try this.

Looking at a few out-of-market hotels recently, I saw that one hotel owner responded to a negative review by claiming it was put there by rivals trying to ruin him/her. While that may have been true, it came across as paranoid.

When I look at online casino reviews, I assume that you’re always going to have a small percentage of cranks who aren’t happy with anything. Looking at all the reviews, though, you see trends emerge: if most people say that hotel is noisy, or has bad service, or has the best blueberry muffins in the state, it’s a fair bet that this is a genuine response.

As far as TripAdvisor goes, it judges just how happy guests were with their stay, rather than the amenities or value a property provides. For the top 20 Las Vegas hotels (as of right now), there are just 7 five-star hotels–the rest are 3, 4, and even lower.

That being said, unless there’s a widespread campaign to sabotage Aria, you’ve got to consider that they’re tracking far below the other resorts in their class on TripAdvisor–ranked at #66 in the market, they are below the Four Queens and Planet Hollywood. While some of this may be because guests at the Four Queens have lower expectations, the fact that other five-star properties are ranked sixty places ahead of Aria should be a red flag that there are, at the very least, customer service issues at the resort.

I’d agree with Professor Erdem that casinos should really be using the negative reviews to engage their guests. At the very least this will help to weed out the bogus reviews, and at best it will help them resolve some issues.

5 Responses to 'It’s (possibly) a faaake!'

  1. dave202 says:

    It’s called viral marketing and it has been under way for years. I’m surprised it took so long for hotels to find out about it.

    But I’m with you, Dave. Whenever I’m reading more than 10 reviews, I always discount a negative review if there’s no others supporting it.

  2. John Blink says:

    Good comment Dave, problem is most people online take comments as fact and do not think ahead of the next finger tap.
    Also, Aria’s problems go much farther than customer service. The entire city centre was well conceived at the very worst time, on such a condensed timeframe for competion that it was impossible to change missions. Further mistakes were made in the hiring of inexperienced managers, ineffective internal communications, poor treatment of line employees all add up to poor customer service.

  3. Access Vegas says:

    Surprisingly, my readers usually have good things to say about the Four Queens. I agree their expectations are going to be lower. But the property seems to be keeping guests happy. I’ve been tempted to stay a night just to see what the buzz is. Even if it is simply clean, comfortable rooms and a friendly staff.

    I’ve also noticed some pretty good gaming action in their casino even on weeknights.

  4. Don R says:

    I stayed at Planet Hollywood a couple of months ago on a comp. The room and service were outstanding. While not the Wynn or Bellagio, where I usually like to stay, I was very happy and would stay there again.

  5. The great thing about technology and the internet is that I can read different newspaper columnists, blogs, etc. A bad thing about the internet is that when people post reviews on casinos/restaurants/nightclubs etc. sometimes the competition shows up and will be extremely critical. This comes with anonymity.

    What some people don’t realize is that 99% of the time when posting comments you are not anonymous on the internet. There is an IP address where your comments come from and if anyone actually cared the host of the website could actually find you.

    What I like about is that I like what people post on here. There are a lot of good comments.