Sometimes you get the feeling players in the online world want it both ways. While they make increasing claims to legitimacy, they also seek to retain the maverick approach of the disruptive new entrant that doesn’t play by the rules.
But as TripAdvisor is finding out almost daily, influence and power come with responsibilities.
Few would question the right of consumers to comment on companies they use, hotels they book, destinations they visit. The issue has always been the extent to which some reviews are genuine or some comments fair.
In reality, vested interests and commercial imperatives are never too far below the surface on a forum like TripAdvisor’s, which was always going to be open to abuse.
And the more TripAdvisor, now a multi-million pound business, needs to protect its own interests the more it was inevitable it would be forced to play by the rules.
The Channel 4 documentary Attack of the TripAdvisors might have been a classic TV stitch-up, but it will have opened many people’s eyes to what lies behind the world’s most popular travel site.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this week TripAdvisor announced new customer support services for hotel partners, with the Advertising Standards Authority due to report on its first investigation of the site.
But a second probe prompted by online reputation management consultant Kwikchex looks a little more challenging.
Welcome to the world of publishing, TripAdvisor, where those responsible for material that’s potentially harmful to someone’s reputation or livelihood are required to make reasonable checks.
After all isn’t providing the best, most credible customer reviews exactly what TripAdvisor should be about?
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