Faking it: the world of the fake review

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Search for any hotel or restaurant and there are a plethora of ‘customer’ reviews. Reviews are a valuable resource for businesses in the hospitality sector, giving potential customers advice and knowledge before booking or making a commitment. However, fake reviews are now commonplace and can be damaging to both consumer confidence and business reputations.

Spotting the fake review

Recent studies suggest that 77% of shoppers check reviews before deciding on a product. When booking a holiday or travel, we want to ensure that our hard-earned cash is spent wisely especially as this might be the one annual trip we take. That is why it is vital to spot a rogue review. In fact, there has even been government discussion on making fake reviews illegal.

But there are some ways to spot the fake review. For instance, does the post sound far too professional and polished in its language choice? Click on the reviewer’s profile. Do their travel review timescales seem realistic or do they seem to have superhuman powers being able to traverse countries and continents in seconds? Where doubt remains, hotel reviews can even be loaded into test pads such as Review Skeptic and tested for falsity.

Handling fake negative business reviews

Online, it’s easy to leave a positive or negative review regardless of whether the reviewer has used the business or not. In fact, it has been suggested that at least 15% of reviews are fakes. Fake or unjustified negative reviews can be extremely damaging. What can a business do? Firstly, request their removal from the site. Sometimes this is tougher than it sounds as it all depends if guidelines have been violated. With some companies, reviewers can remain anonymous making it hard to even trace them.

Another way is for business owners to be totally upfront on social media. Without mud slinging or abuse, calmly respond to your critics. Lines such as, “I’m sorry that you feel this way, please contact me directly…” or “We’d like to resolve your concerns, if you PM/DM us…”. Positive affirmations help to retain consumer confidence.

In addition, if a small business is faced with a series of seemingly fake or scurrilous reviews, post a short statement that avoids the anger you are feeling but addresses the issue. For example, “Recently we have had a couple of uncomplimentary reviews, this has surprised us as most customers leave happy. Try us for yourself…”.

Challenging and spotting fake news and reviews is integral for any business to portray itself in the best light. Thanks to increased media attention, it looks likely that legislation will begin to protect both the consumer and business from fake reviews in the not-so-distant future.

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