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How Much Can We Trust Those Online Reviews?

We may not necessarily know those people who posted or shared their travel experiences on social networking sites. Yet, we often make travel arrangements based on the reviews we found online. Isn’t it interesting?

This MSNBC News video shows us a series of ethical and illegal misconducts about online comments and reviews. According to this report, hotels and restaurants may (a) exaggerate the services and features that they provide by posting customized pictures, (b) make up positive online reviews about their own services and products, and (c) create negative online comments about their competitors.

After watching this video, may I ask you the same question I raised about a year ago on this blog --- who shall we trust in terms of hotel and restaurant reviews? Furthermore, how much can we trust on a particular online comment?

It is probably because of the concern about trustworthiness that some hospitality companies have hired full time social media officers to manage their online reputations. Companies like TripAdvisors and Sheraton also work with Facebook to promote more “user-generated” contents --- even though people often criticize Facebook and other social networking sites about the sites’ privacy settings, Internet users look “real” because of the rich and private information they share on social media. What do you think? What makes a person’s online presence “real” and “authentic”?

If you are running a business, what are your social media strategies? How do you build trust among first-time consumers with social media tools? How proactive can a business be in generating positive online feedback?


Comments

  1. Gabriella TorzilliMarch 1, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    I completely agree with this logic. You never know what to trust on the internet because so many people can go on the computer and pretend to be someone else and comment that they like or dont like some place but it could all the while be someone who works there or someone who was fired from there and give you a skewed version of how some place really is. As a nutrition major it is hard to go on some place and see comments for how the food is when you and the person who commented could have completely differnt tastes in food and if you go eat somewhere you could wind up hating it while the other person loved it. Also, their could be a reccomendation for a place and you think its going to turn out great and you go there it looks gross and the food does not taste well. So things you see on the internet could be true and you could go somewhere and absolutely love it and its exactly what is shown on the internet. Or you could go somewhere and absolutely hate it and it is nothing like what it said or looked like it was going to be.

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  2. It is very easy for an employee of a hotel to go online and create a fake profile on websites similar to tripadvisor.com. By posting a fake review, people have the perception that a specific hotel or resort provides good service. This action is very deceptive and violates the trust of a consumer. Before booking a hotel, I would recommend looking at the worst reviews instead of the high rated ones. This method allows one to receive an accurate view of a hotel and plan a vacation around an accurate description. One should be cautious about what they read on the internet and not trust everything they see.

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  3. You cannot always trust what you see or read on the Internet. Nearly all picture advertisements today are enhanced in some way or another. Advertisements on the Internet and in magazines are normally enhanced so what appears in the picture seems perfect whether it actually is or not.

    A hotel advertising pictures that have been tamper with/ enhanced is similar to how most fast food restaurants advertise videos and pictures of meals that look nothing like the food they are actually serving you. The business world is all about competition; many companies will go to any extent to stand out over their competition. This is why I do not find it surprising that companies will write false reviews on websites to help get the company better exposure and ratings.

    Its hard to trust what people say on review websites, and sometimes its hard to trust the companies website.Many large hotels and companies have facebook pages where users can upload their own photos and comment on certain aspects of the hotel that they did or did not like. Writing on a companies facebook page is a great way to connect with the company and leave feedback. This is nice because unlike most hotel review websites, you can actually see who is writing the review. Many hotel review websites allow anonymous users, which leads to exaggerated reviews and rankings. For the most part, I do not trust hotel review websites due to the high volume of false reviews either hyping up or bashing a hotels service.

    - Eric Hernandez

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