TripAdvisor ad banned for “misleading” reviews

TripAdvisor has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for making false claims about the reviews on its website, after it admitted it couldn’t prove they were genuine or from real travellers.

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The website’s claims such as “Reviews you can trust”, and “…read reviews from real travellers” were banned by the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) because they could not be substantiated by the travel reviews company.

KwikChex, a firm that accredits business standards, made the initial complaints last year, claiming the ads were in breach of the advertising code.

The regulation states that it is prohibited for advertisers to make misleading claims and for those claims not to be supported by evidence.

TripAdvisor said that whilst their visitors would not expect every reviewer to share their subjective tastes, the high level of trust that users placed in the site was demonstrated by its continued growth since it was founded ten years ago.

It added that the reviews never claim to be 100% fraud free, and argued that the brand dedicated substantial resources to identifying and minimising any non-genuine content.

The ASA acknowledged the processes TripAdvisor had in place to monitor and deal with suspicious activity, but concluded that it was still possible for misleading content to still appear on the site undetected.

The advertising watchdog ruled that the claims must not appear again in their current form and added the company should refrain from claiming or implying that all its reviews were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted.

This is not the first time the quality of TripAdvisor’s reviews have been called into question following complaints from the public. Last July the Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation into allegations that hotels were bribing guests to write glowing reviews on the TripAdvisor website in exchange for cash or cut-price rooms and meals.

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