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Question for ex-TA people

It seems another storm is brewing on TA. This time over a number of negative reviews of Royalton CSM. It appears these negative reviews have been pulled from TA without the authors permission and they were within guidelines. One of several threads are here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g670039-i12236-k6162688-One_more_time-Cayo_Santa_Maria_Cuba.html

The question is, does anyone have experience with resorts being able to have bad reviews pulled off and how can TA justify this. How can we trust reviews at all if a resort can do this?

Just looking for background research, not start a fight.

Travel forums are an adjunct to websites for the profitability of the website owner. The busier the website in so far as how many hits it gets, the more money it generates for the owner. When things heat up, the action gets quite intense. For many people, the entertainment value, rather than accurate travel knowledge, is what has them coming to forums in the first place.

I have always been aware that resort reviews can either be pulled or just not posted. It’s happened to me several times, so I just don’t bother to post resort reviews anymore. In my mind, pulling negative reviews is a form of dishonesty and flies in the face of freedom of speech. No different than censorship and deletion of posts when members disagree with each other but have followed the forum guidelines.

We all know that money talks! The influence to have negative reviews pulled is unjustifiable if a travel website is to have any credibility. While I do read reviews to get a general feel for a resort, I don’t trust reviews at their face value. More often than not, I get directly in touch with the reviewer by PM to ask for clarification and/or further info. The lack of control over who can post a review, along with a lack of verification of the review itself is a huge problem. I am aware for example of competing bed & breakfasts slagging each other by posting negative reviews.

I personally can’t imagine that anyone would consider only one travel website to be the “authority” on anything given how much of my hard earned money I’m spending on my vacation.

It appears that the answer (not a solution) to one of the TA problems has been found.

I contacted TA regarding some of the negative reviews of Royalton that were removed from TA review section. Their response indicated that reviews were deleted automatically (without mod intervention) if enough people clicked the ‘problem with review’ button.

It appears that certain resorts have a group of cheerleaders who have made a habit of deleting negative reviews this way. It’s my opinion from other posts that the head cheerleader is the manager of the resort as guests have admitted to being asked to not post problems while they were at the resort. I’m being careful to say that this is my opinion and not proven facts.

The same thing happens to posts. If enough people click the button, the post gets deleted. Someone has tested this and they suggest as little as 4 or 5 clicks are needed.

So, it appears that TA has a problem with certain people knowing how to abuse the system and probably working in conjunction can vastly alter review status of a resort and also delete posts that may be offensive to a resort.

I have no problem ensuring that reviews that are obviously inappropriate are deleted. I clicked to remove a review of one resort where the person had not even arrived yet. Wow, cheerleading takes on a new twist! :o :o :o

I have suggested to TA that if someone clicks to remove a review just because they don’t like the reviewer’s opinion, they should be banned for a set time period as a penalty. If it continues, they should be banished. This is the only way to maintain freedom of speech.

Full disclosure: I have not been to Royalton. I have no opinion or grudge on the resort. I do value all reviews and posts (here and on TA) and would like the freedom to decide for myself which ones are junk and which ones are of interest. I would like to see both TA and Debbies become more mainstream so that EVERYONE who is thinking about booking a holiday will check out reviews on-line before they plunk down their money. Obviously, there are instances when some posts go over the line in abuse, bullying and intimidation. Those should be banned regardless. More and more people will abandon these sites if they are so easily subject to abuse and that is a bad thing.