Nobody wants to be on The List, of course, but at least TripAdvisor seems to have more credibility than a site like Yelp! who allows the process to be subverted by financial concerns.1
Those are just a few excerpts from reader-generated reviews of various hotels in Britain, culled from the “2010 Dirtiest Hotels” lists published recently by TripAdvisor.com, the online network of travel sites. TripAdvisor says it has reviews of more than 450,000 hotels around the world.
In the United States, hard-hitting online travel reviews cause a lot less commotion, even though TripAdvisor’s reviews of the “dirtiest” hotels in the United States are just as blunt as the rest of the worldwide lists. (“Sleep in your car, not here!” warns LuckyDude, Chicago.)
Web sites using online reader-generated commentary are rewriting the rule book for travel reporting, and no site has as much impact as TripAdvisor, which is owned by Expedia and is one of the biggest online reader review sites. So it was a good time to talk with TripAdvisor’s chief executive, Stephen Kaufer.
The dirtiest hotels lists are a tiny part of what TripAdvisor does, of course. But Mr. Kaufer was happy to address the criticism.
“You bet, if you’re a hotel on that list, it is not a good sign for your business,” he said. “We have advertisers who call us up after they see one of their chain properties on the list and say, ‘Come on, I spent money with you advertising, and you put the property on the list?’ The sales guys tell them, ‘The editorial team looks at all the reviews; they look at what the guests say on the site — and one bad review does not get you on the list. But when it’s consistently ranked as a bad hotel by lots of people saying terrible things, hey, we are not shy.’ ”
“Please believe me,” he added, “we are careful about the lists, so a hotel isn’t named just because there are four bad reviews. We are dealing with someone’s reputation. It’s the ones that are consistently bad that make it — and I challenge any curious ind
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