The reliability of the review websites for hotels and restaurants used by millions of consumers has been called into question.
According to their trade magazine Caterer and Hotelkeeper rumours abound that glowing reviews are often posted anonymously by the hotels and restaurants themselves, and damning reviews – and some have made accusations of food poisoning without proof – often posted anonymously by competitors. Review site TripAdvisor have confirmed that their anonymous reviewers don’t even have to prove that they stayed at a hotel or ate at a restaurant to post a review of it, so what real value are the reviews?
Groups benefitting from the negative publicity for the review sites are the serious restaurant and hotel reviewers, who are identifiable and accountable and, for most looking for honest opinion, much more trustworthy by contrast.
Given the above some cynics have suggested that the presence of negative reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor is a sure indication that the competitors of a hotel or restaurant are taking it seriously, and that it is well worth a visit. This, for some will be the right nemesis for what started off as a good idea and has now become, courtesy of some aggressive marketing, a much devalued currency.
Meanwhile one restaurant getting good and bad reviews is the Rajput Indian in Harrogate which was described by critic Jay Rayner last year as serving him a “car crash” of a meal, but by adulatory members of the public as “Harrogate’s best-kept secret”, a remarkably prescient observation given that the owner and her two sons have been jailed for three years for people trafficking and treating the staff they imported as slaves.