Travel and hotel industry gangs up on TripAdvisor

More than 400 hotel and restaurant businesses in the UK and US have said they  are prepared to join a ‘group defamation action’ against TripAdvisor.

The group claims that the travel portal, which claims to be the worlds biggest travel site and provides reviews and offers holidays packages, is being hit over its ‘false’ and ‘unfair’ reviews, leaving the hotel and restaurant industry concerned.

Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) said: “TripAdvisor is undeniably one of the most successful online travel websites and has illustrated how the internet can be used effectively as a strategic business model. On the other hand, this is one of the first public battles against a company based online and automatically sends a warning signal to those who may be open to defamatory claims, and particularly where the accusation is that some of the information published on the site by anonymous third parties is untrue and misleading.

He added that despite not having a physical presence, organisations operating online need to ensure they have full accountability and control over the information they provide access to and should also abide by industry regulations and good practice.

The group is concerned whether it’s acceptable to have anonymous commentary that complains about a company or hotel without any evidence to support the claim or identity of the alleged complainant.  

The CIF, added that although it supports the freedom of speech and the use of the internet, it also believes that there needs to be accountability and transparency to ensure that inaccurate, unjustified, unsubstantiated or malicious claims are not aired as if they are valid and genuine.

It now wants a code of practice and best practice for web site content and associated Cloud Service Provider operations coupled with tighter control. 

“We see this as another area where the newly announced ASA powers need to be focused,” Burton concluded.

TechDirt points out that it could, however, all be a bit of spin for a reputation management firm. We’ve heard that spinning spin isn’t good for reputations – at least if you’re caught out.