Owners of Hotels and Attractions around the world are getting used to Google ringing the changes however Google’s latest change has affected the bête noire of many hoteliers, TripAdvisor.
As Google Local evolves it seems that they are refining the content that they display on the Google Local Places page and one of these changes could have a major impact upon TripAdvisor, the biggest Traveller review site in the world.
This week many Hotel owners will have noticed that the number of reviews that are displayed on their Google Places page will have dropped dramatically. This is because Google seems to have removed reviews from sources that do not have a verifiable method of ensuring that each review is written by a verified source, that is someone who has stayed at the hotel or been to the attraction.
Over the past few months there have been some very high profile disagreements between many people in the Hotel industry and TripAdvisor over claims that the site hosts fake reviews from unscrupulous competitors and unfair reviews from vindictive guests. There have also been counter claims from some that many hotels have also been culpable in this as there have been several instances of hotels or those employed by hotels writing fake positive reviews.
It seems that Google have taken note as they have removed all of TripAdvisors reviews from the Google Places page and the only reason for this seems to be that they doubt the trustworthiness of the reviews from TripAdvisors users. This can only be seen as a massive blow to TripAdvisor. Not only is the world’s biggest traveller review site indirectly being deemed as untrustworthy by the world’s biggest search engine but the ever increasing prominence of Google Places in the rankings means that it’s certain the traffic to the TripAdvisor site will have taken a massive hit.
How can TripAdvisor respond to this? Well it could go down the route of Booking.com and laterooms.com and only allow reviews from people that have booked through themselves or partner sites. This seems like the obvious long term solution as it will resolve the issues that have caused so many complaints from Hotel owners and Hotel owners will themselves not be able to post fake reviews. It will also see them appear back in Google’s Places rankings as a trustworthy source which will then restore their prominent position on the Search Engine.
This course of action will have an immediate negative effect of reducing the number of people who can post reviews and this is likely to result in fewer users in the short term however this course of action should ensure that long term its position as the number one traveller review site is secured.