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Have you ever visited a supposedly five-star restaurant based on a TripAdvisor review, only to leave totally disappointed by the food?
You aren't the only one to fall victim to a suspiciously positive review. The travel review site was forced to delete almost a million fake reviews in 2020, as struggling restaurants tried to boost their profiles by any means necessary during the lockdown.
Luckily, fake reviews only made up a very small percentage—3.6%—of the 26,000,000 reviews the site received overall last year.
TripAdvisor claims its secret army of review police (aka the moderation team) was able to catch 67.1% of them before they ever made it to the site.
So can anyone be trusted anymore? Or do you need to rely solely on word-of-mouth and aggressive waiters ushering you in off the street to pick a restaurant from now on?
Here's some of the key signs of a fake TripAdvisor review.
How to spot a fake TripAdvisor review
There's no sure-fire way to tell whether a review is fake, but there are some tell-tale signs
- One-hit wonders: if the reviewer in question has only made one post and it's the one you're reading, it's a bit of a giveaway. Similarly, if an establishment has lots of reviews from people who have only made one post, they could be trying to boost their ratings
- Too much detail: If a reviewer shares too many intricate details, such as the name of all the staff or the full titles of dishes on the menu, something might be fishy
- Not enough detail: Equally, if the language used is completely vague, such as "The food was good, the service was excellent, and the location was brilliant", it may just be a generic review template posted by a bot. (Even if it isn't, it's not a particularly helpful review.) Look out for phrases like "must try" and "hidden gem" as well.
- The same photos or stock images: This is a huge giveaway, but if the same photos have been posted twice on a location's TripAdvisor, it's a pretty good indication that something's off. Either fake reviewers are recycling photos, or the establishment is just very good at producing identical meals.
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It's important to remember that, while some TripAdvisor reviews are fake, the overwhelming majority come from real people.
Of course, some of those people might simply have an axe to grind after some bad service, but considering that 65.8 percent of TripAdvisor reviews give five stars, you don't need to worry too much.
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