85% of hospitality businesses victim to fake reviews

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Helpful tool: some 71% of hospitality businesses said review sites were useful
Helpful tool: some 71% of hospitality businesses said review sites were useful
More than three-quarters (85%) of hospitality businesses have fallen victim to malicious and fake online reviews, according to a new survey.

Figures from the British Hospitality Association (BHA) show this was up from 65% in the last survey two years ago.

Despite this, with the majority of those surveyed (71%) said review sites were useful for their company, with one respondent saying “it is the only advertising worth having”.

Fake and malicious reviews

However, the number of businesses who thought such sites were useful declined by 9% from 2015, which the BHA has stated could be related to the issues around fake negative and malicious reviews.

The BHA survey, conducted between 25 August and 8 September across its 46,500 members, also found that online platforms were not helpful with dealing with fake negative reviews, with more than 60% of respondents saying they were not helpful or not very helpful.

Half of businesses said the threat of a bad online review had been used to blackmail them into giving them a refund to the customer.

More than 65% of respondents said transparency was a problem, with website rankings based on complicated algorithms that the consumer is unaware of.

Relevant and fair

Digital comparison tools such as review sites have been the subject of a recent study by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which found that digital comparison tools depend on consumer trust to provide a ‘relevant and fair’ service.

BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “Online review sites are hugely important for the reputations of hospitality businesses and allow consumers to make informed decisions.

“However, the relentless and largely unregulated growth of the digital intermediaries means that hospitality businesses in the real world – who often pay large commissions to these sites on bookings – are at the mercy of these firms.

“More must be done to tackle fake and malicious reviews and provide greater transparency provided in the ratings systems.”

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