TripAdvisor Cleans Out Reviews For Fiji Resort

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends

DOZENS of reviews for Yasawa Island Resort & Spa in Fiji have been removed by global travel community TripAdvisor following an investigation sparked by a recent story in Travel Trends: TripAdvisor – Where Truth Is A Matter of Opinion.

Most notably, it removed every positive review (three stars or more) of the 10 posts between December 1, 2008, and January 10, 2009.

This was a period when there were massive discrepancies between the reviews – people apparently either loved or hated the place. The average rating of those 10 original reviews was 3.2 stars. Following the removal of every positive review between those dates, just four remain with an average rating of 1.5 stars – a huge difference.

It is worth remembering at this point Yasawa charges its guests many, many hundreds of dollars. Its overall rating for the past three years is now at 3.5 stars.

As for the investigation, TripAdvisor sent an email on January 23, 2009, to everyone who had posted a review on the resort asking for verification.

“By responding to this e-mail, you are confirming that your review is unbiased, that you are not and have never been associated with the owners or management of this property and/or their competitors/other properties in the area and that you have not received any compensation (including a discount on a future stay) in exchange for your review.”

It seems many failed to respond.

TripAdvisor spokesman Luke Fredberg wrote in an email: “Whenever we hear of a report of potential fraud or bias associated with the reviews for a property on our site, we’ll make use of our verification process, which will send the letter that you refer to. 

“It’s a typical letter that’s part of a typical process.  A review can be removed as a part of that process if we at that point discover the post to not meet our submission guidelines, though a review can also be removed for a variety of other reasons, ranging from the author requesting it’s (sic) removal to our automatic filters sweeping our database of existing reviews, performing clean-up work. 

“We respond and act upon every report of potential bias that we receive from both our member and hoteliers, and are constantly refining our fraud processes based on that feedback.  I wish I could go into further detail but this obviously would compromise our privacy policy and reveal proprietary information.” 

Travel Trends: Updated March 10, 2009

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