Travel Insiders’ Top Tips for Spotting Fake Hotel and Vacation Reviews

Matthew Hairsnape, CEO of Triend, shared his top nine tips for spotting anything suspicious in reviews, including too many five stars and overdone language.

Sometimes Hotel Reviews Aren’t All They Seem

An expert has shared his top nine ways to spot fake online reviews to ensure you get the best deal on your vacation.

Matthew Hairsnape, CEO of Triend, urged people to follow this advice so as not to be disappointed on a trip.

The problem of fake reviews is very real and vast.

In 2020 more than two million reviews have been rejected or deleted from Tripadvisor in 2020 for reasons including fraud, bias, and violation of community standards.

Matthew, whose new app triend pays users to share unedited videos of locations on the go to improve trust in reviews, gave the following tips.

Make sure you’re not fooled by a dodgy review


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Extremely high percentage of 5 stars

Check to see how many 5 star reviews there are.

Matthew said: ‘While some people may very well have had a flawless experience at this place, it’s highly unlikely that any customer had a problem.’

True positive reviews may include small points for improvement or noting that something was not to their liking.

So if an overwhelming number of users find the perfect place, chances are you are reading scam reviews.

Exaggerated language

Along the same lines, beware when many reviewers seem to have praised the place with flowery, extravagant language.

While there may be one or two, the likelihood of many taking such an enthusiastic approach is rather suspect.

“Too decorative language suggests that these particular users are doing everything they can to make the place ‘bewitching’, for example,” Matthew said.

“It indicates that there is probably an ulterior motive and that would be to get people through the door.”

Extremely negative reviews

Too much negativity can be a warning sign


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On the other hand, you have to be careful when there are also a large number of extremely negative reviews.

Many things can influence your perception of a place, your mood for the day, what you order and your business.

“Some users project their own subjective criticism onto reviews, coloring people’s opinions with negative preconceptions,” he continued.

“On a more sinister note, these slanderous reviews are sometimes published by commercial competitors for their own profit.”

Me me me

Research has shown that fraudulent reviews tend to contain an excessive amount of first person pronouns like “me” and “I”.

In an attempt to hide that their story is false, some trolls overemphasize the personal nature of their story to compensate for their lack of direct experience.

“If a story seems to emphasize the directness of their visit, rather than describing their surroundings, food or service, your alarm bells should ring,” Matthew warned.

It’s all in the details

Reviews that focus on specific issues are more likely to be trusted


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Be on the lookout for vague reviews that gloss over the experience without going into detail.

“Most genuine reviews consciously go into detail about their experience in order to paint an honest picture of their time there,” he said.

Whether it’s mentioning that there was a crane blocking part of the view or that they were served complimentary breadsticks at the start of a meal, these little remarks make a huge difference when evaluating the credibility of a story.

Check dates

If a user claims to have tasted the worst coq au vin in Parisian style one day and then the most exquisite chilli crab in Singapore the next, something is wrong.

Practice critical thinking when reviewing reviewer history and be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

“Some people are hired to sit at desks and tamper with reviews in order to improve a company’s rating or sabotage competitors,” Matthew continued.

“It makes no difference to them if they are looking at two places 10,000 km apart in one day. Therefore, assess the credibility of the dates and places users claim to have visited.”

Check revision patterns

Some companies may go out of their way to target rivals


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If you’re not sure whether to trust a review, take a look at the user’s writing habits. Do they oscillate between glowing 5-star recommendations and 1-star scrutiny reviews?

The app owner said, “Such extremes might suggest that the reviewer has an ulterior motive for posting such black-and-white opinions.”

No face for the (false) name?

Lack of profile pictures is also a bad sign. Since fake reviewers don’t want to associate their identity with fraudulent information, they are unlikely to attach a photo of themselves or their real name to their account.

“Be careful when reading reviews from users who don’t have a profile picture, who have a very outlandish name like Theodore Goldenapple, or a name that’s considered very mainstream like John Smith,” Matthew continued.

Customer Jacking

Beware of reviews slamming a place, but keep praising one of its rivals. There is a good chance that the user is related in some way to the competing company.

“A lot of the time these types of comments come from someone trying to redirect customers to a competing business,” he said.

Triend attempts to circumvent these issues by paying users for posting reviews and, in turn, provides them with a clear and transparent financial incentive to share their honest thoughts and opinions.

Unedited video reviews that put a face to the reviewer’s name, holding them accountable for what they say and capturing their raw experience.

Geolocation technology that verifies that the review was filmed at the location the user claims to be talking about.

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