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A recent article in The Telegraph reported that hotels and restaurants in Britain are being targeted by “blackmailers” who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on the TripAdvisor website.

Guests are warning staff that they will post bad comments on the review website if they are not given better service, meals, or upgrades.

Restaurant, hotel, and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat. Guests are typically making a complaint and then threatening to post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert, or bill reduction.

Martin Couchman, the deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said that he was in talks with TripAdvisor to improve the service.

How Important is Online Reputation Management?
According to TripAdvisor, the average traveler reads between six and twelve reviews during the research phase of the trip planning process. For this reason alone, it is important for your most recent reviews to shed your property or establishment in a positive light.

To be honest, I’m shocked that this kind of scheme did not happen earlier on in TripAdvisor’s existence (and perhaps it has, but has been kept under wraps). The company is not hiring millions of travel experts to research properties for them. Instead, they are putting that power in the hands of the masses, assuming that travelers will have no ulterior motives for giving a positive or negative review.

To answer the question, your property’s online reputation is incredibly important as far as how travelers perceive the quality of stay they will be receiving when they stay with you. If TripAdvisor has to worry about “fraudulent” reviews being posted for all of the wrong reasons, they will lose credibility.

To read the full Telegraph article, click here.

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