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Tripadvisor Faces Legal Dispute

The world’s largest travel review site, Tripadvisor, has come under scrutiny recently as hundreds of hoteliers and restaurateurs could bring legal action against the influential reviews website over claims that its reviews are defamatory.

The persuasive travel site makes up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 35 million unique monthly visitors, 20 million members, and over 35 million reviews and opinions, all written by consumers, on its pages.

It is increasingly influential with a multitude of travellers using the site before choosing where to go on holiday or where to eat out….and overseas owners aren’t happy.

It faces the prospect of facing legal action, after more than 400 restaurants and hotels approached KwikChex.com, an organization which helps companies manage their online reputations.

The co-founder of KwikChex.com, Chris Emmins, said he was proposing to bring a possible “group defamation action”, and will present a handful of the worst grievances to Tripadvisor next week.

“Some of the reviews on TripAdvisor appear to be just fake, or certainly contain completely untrue statements. Some are suspect and some fall into legitimate fair comment.

“I support customer feedback and I support the idea websites should not face unnecessary legal action. But it is bad for customers if they just don’t know what to trust.”

Having contacted 120 businesses in America and Britain, Mr Emmins said that 105 would be interested in having their cases taken to Tripadvisor.

He has received 420 applications to become a member of KwikChex (which costs £170) in total, although he added that his firm would need to complete checks on all applicants before deciding whether their grievance was strong enough to pursue against TripAdvisor.

The need for a good rating from TripAdvisor has become increasingly important in the travel industry as a number of third-party sites carry the TripAdvisor content.

Mr Emmis said: “To a small business with only a few reviews, claims of food poisoning can be devastating. In every single one we have looked at – and we have looked at around 100 – there has been no report to the local health authority and we could find no evidence of food poisoning. Those sorts of things shouldn’t even be on TripAdvisor.”

Bob Atkinson, from TravelSupermarket, said: “We believe that customers want more information than that provided by the hotel or the travel company, which understandably wants to present their businesses in the best possible light.

“But I would always caution consumers that people are always more likely to post a negative review than a positive review on these types of websites. That’s just human nature. Consumers need to read between the lines when they read these reviews.”

Never a truer word said Bob!

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