I read the "TripAdvisor Flies" item in the Smart Traveller column with great interest (Traveller, April 21-22). We run the Ballina Beach Village resort in NSW and have had guests ask for money in return for not giving us a bad review on TripAdvisor. In one instance, a woman showed me her iPhone photos of "bathroom pipes with wee on them". When I pointed out that we don't have exposed pipes on our bathroom walls, she said, "Oh, that must have been the last place." She asked six times for money. We re-cleaned her villa six times but clearly not to her satisfaction. She gave us a stinker of a review.
In another instance, a group of guests who partied until 3am said they would accuse us of "racially targeting" them when we shut the party down. Not a pretty review; however, our other guests were relieved when we asked the party-goers to leave.
We have written to TripAdvisor asking that dishonest reviews be removed. The company has refused to do so. I have had replies such as, "Flaming is good for readership" and "That is their opinion". There is now also a fleet of writers who offer to write "good" reviews of your property - for a fee. TripAdvisor is not a pristine source of consumer reviews.
- Rikki Grinberg
TripAdvisor, a response
Allegations of blackmail or threatening behaviour by guests against property owners are taken very seriously by TripAdvisor. Not only is it strictly against our guidelines but it may also be illegal in many jurisdictions. If an owner experiences this, we urge them to contact us immediately and our content-integrity team will investigate.
TripAdvisor was founded on a core set of principles that remain as true today as ever - giving travellers a voice with which to freely share their experiences, promoting consumer choice in the travel industry based on honest customer feedback and encouraging a level playing field for all travel businesses, regardless of size. By remaining true to these principles, we believe TripAdvisor is an essential voice and source of information for today's traveller and the travel industry.
We fully recognise the importance the reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor have to properties and businesses listed on the site, and we encourage business owners to contact us via the management centre if they feel they've been treated unfairly by a TripAdvisor user, or been victim of an illegitimate review or a review that does not comply with our guidelines. We investigate absolutely every inquiry we receive.
We stand by the proven model we already have in place, which features a management-response tool that allows hoteliers to respond to traveller reviews on the site. This means business owners always have the last word to respond to negative reviews. We strongly encourage business owners to take advantage of this feature, so their voice can be heard as well.
Companies that claim they can submit reviews and boost a property's standing in the TripAdvisor popularity index are on our radar already and the properties have been penalised appropriately. Using these services is against our rules and will result in penalties.
- The TripAdvisor team
Land of the rising temperature
It's all cherry blossoms now in Japan. But that's not stopping the winter flu stretching well into the northern spring. Our Australian flu vaccination was no protection, as the "Hong Kong" strain is widespread in Tokyo and not included in our vaccinations. Travellers need to take a good choice of our medications, plus antibiotics.
- Brian Noad
Demand free wi-fi
Asad Adeni (Traveller Letters, April 14-15) is right on the money: free wi-fi is to be expected in hotels and motels, just as free satellite TV is the norm. I now tell hotels that I will not book with them if there is not free wi-fi access. If we all do that, they will fall into line.
- Rebecca Rogers
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