The Impact of the Fake Review – Spotted This Week

For many in the Hospitality industry the review is an important part of keeping control of their reputation. It allows companies to receive active responses from consumers and it is part of the relationship between customer and business.

The growth of the online review is staggering. It can be argued it is now the form of communication that bridges the gap between word-of-mouth and a viral form of feedback.

If used effectively, reviews can increase sales, create an understanding of the customer, form loyalty and can inspire teams morale in many ways – this virtual or spoken pat on the back can go a long way.

This is why it is frustrating to see that there are some companies who write fake reviews. There are, unfortunately, companies out there who write these in order to make a location appear to have a more positive reputation.

However, is a recent move in UK competition changing reviews?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed it has issued its first crackdown on the practice.

 A company who wrote more than 800 fake reviews between 2014 and 2015 have been forced to remove the fake reviews it has posted.

The firm published the fake positive reviews for 86 small businesses across 26 different websites.

As well as removing all of the reviews, the companies clients have been warned that if their third parties write false reviews on their behalf it might lead to them breaking the law.

The industry has for quite some time been able to monitor its online reviews in various places. Their own website, third party websites such as TripAdvisor, Social Media and more.

The hope is always that every review is written by an actual consumer but this is not always the case. A recent example of reviews possibly not written by actual customers was for Coventry restaurant PGR. It featured on several news channels after turning away a diner with a registered blind dog. A quick glance at the restaurant’s Google page shows that many reviews were written from non-customers who were stating their opinion on the incident. However by giving the location a 1-star review it has affected its online reputation.

It will be interesting to watch how the CMA deals with reviews such as this. They were written by people rather than a company so how will the authority stop reviews which are potentially not written by actual consumers.

There is a saying that ‘a review is just a comment and you should never read the comments’ so perhaps in the future other forms of assessment will be used.

Do reviews really have an impact?

Can we ever truly trust online reviews?

Would you ever try an experience without any prior knowledge, recommendation or research?

For more information on ‘Spotted this week’ please contact Ben Butler

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