Professionals or Amateurs?
February 1, 2016
AJ Linn (45 articles)

Professionals or Amateurs?

Why do many restaurants eschew websites and trust their promotions on the Web to Facebook and the like, apparently blissfully ignorant that an important section of their potential customers do not have Facebook accounts? Even worse, their Web presence is often limited to TripAdvisor, with all the consequences that can bring. This problematic website that relies on anonymous critics can, in my hands-on experience, only be relied upon to give a general idea of what an establishment is like. No-one however can deny its runaway success. Started in 2000 it now covers 28 countries and gets 280 million visits monthly.

Since anyone can have their comments posted without any sort of qualification process, the consequences are frequently mistrusted by those affected. Even a small variation in a hotel or restaurant’s rating can affect its income, according to a 2012 study by the University of California Berkeley. Another cause of dissent is blackmail. An English restaurateur claims that around 3% of his customers will request a discount or a freebie under the threat of a negative report on TripAdvisor. Rather late in the day, with 50 million reports already published, there is finally a process for reporting blackmailers, but failure to file a complaint immediately may result in the offending comment being published, and once it is, removal is difficult. Nevertheless there have been court cases with TripAdvisor paying damages. And much as an establishment may prefer to remain low-key, there is no way to opt out. Like everything else these days, merely by existing we are by default fair game for any monitoring organisation.

TripAdvisor claims that every report goes through its filtering system.  Well……… in 2014 a Chinaman submitted 521 reviews of Paris restaurants in a month, while simultaneously reviewing 50 hotels around the world. In June of this year TripAdvisor published reports that enabled a yet-to-be inaugurated Roman restaurant to top the local ratings. These are not isolated cases, and users of the website have to decide how far they are prepared to trust the over-rapturous or over-critical comments posted there.

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AJ Linn

AJ Linn

AJ Linn se estableció en España hace más de 40 años tras una abreviada carrera en Inglaterra vinculada entre otras cosas con la importación de vinos. Ha vivido en El Puerto de Santa María y Cádiz, ahora Marbella, y durante las ultimas décadas se ha dedicado a varios negocios, hasta que actualmente se limita a escribir sobre vino, gastronomía, flamenco y el estilo de vida español. Aparte de su columna semanal en el Diario Sur, sus artículos se publican con regularidad en medios de habla inglesa, tanto en España como en el extranjero.


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