Destination owners who are suffering from hotel reputation problems caused by TripAdvisor and similar review sites may have a light showing up at the end of the tunnel.
KwikChex (a U.K. based online monitoring service) released a press release targeting negative reviewers, saying that it plans to publish a list of suspects that are fraudulent and defamatory.
While this sounds like a good step forward against complaint sites that affect business, we are just beginning to see a round of industry centric lawsuits regarding online reputation. In August Google was ordered to name anonymous online bullies. This further defined precedent cases for online slander and libel in the U.S., while opening up other international conversations like those involving TripAdvisor.
Chris Emmins, Co-founder of KwixChex – is leading a legal challenge in the U.K. that has amassed 800+ properties and how TripAdvisor affects hotel reputation.
The reality is that this ‘trend’ is costing the hotel industry millions of dollars.
(as we previous covered in Hotel Reputations, search brand value under attack )
According to Tnooz Travel Tech Talk, Chris had confirmed several aspects of the case being brought fourth:
- Cases based on TripAdvisor allegedly being responsible for misrepresenting standards/quality of businesses that its systems have singled out.
- Cases where serious allegations have been made that have been supposedly supported by TripAdvisor by means of a pop-up stating: “This review was written by a trusted member of the TripAdvisor community”. Kwikchex claims this is an endorsement.
- Court action to disclose information on identities of posters making defamatory comments.
TripAdvisor is fighting back on hotel reputation, issuing “red boxes” against hotels that attempt to manipulate review results –
“TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe that individuals or entities associated with or having an interest in this property may have interfered with traveller reviews and/or the popularity index for this property. We make our best efforts to identify suspicious content and are always working to improve the processes we use to assess traveller reviews.”
This is just the beginning, not the end
While companies like KwikChex are moving forward to target negative hotel reputation and review sites, such properties have a list of rights and protections regarding free speech. Outside of hotel reputation issues, complaint sites such as RipoffReport and Complaints.com have both managed to win court cases defending negative commentary.
Businesses dealing with hotel reputation or online reputation management issues need to be aware that legal systems are decades behind our web usage trends.
There are few (if any) up-to-date laws regarding the specifics of how internet conversation is monitored, managed and regulated.
As new laws are written, it is fairly common to see ‘web enabled’ companies like TripAdvisor have pre-existing migration paths to newer methodologies that are NOT covered by current legal decisions.
This effectively places web content companies in a continual 18 to 60 month process gap that regulating and legal groups cannot catch up with. (it is the very nature of many web content business models to target business models that have undefined business opportunities and little existing precedent.)
If you know of any hotel reputation problems worth checking out, leave a comment below or tweet us @ceoreputation