A popular travel site is under investigation over fake content claims in Italy, after an official body in the country said that it is not trying hard enough to tackle false reviews.
Trip Advisor has quickly become a go-to site for travellers who are interested in finding the best deals and places to stay. Such is its popularity, however, that there have been suspicions over much of its content for some time.
With reviews a great source of positive search engine optimisation (SEO), travel companies attract many links, click-throughs and conversions as a result.
Despite the claims, Trip Advisor has robustly defended itself, with a spokesman saying:
“It is important to note that Trip Advisor fights fraud aggressively and we are confident in our systems and process. Every single review goes through our tracking system, which maps the how, what, where and when of each review.”
It is understood that the Italian investigation will analyse just how sufficient Trip Advisor’s tracking systems are and whether they are fit to isolate reviews being made by individuals who have not visited the location being reviewed.
It will also look to see whether the firm has made enough differentiations between content posted by hotels, often created by professional SEO copywriting services, and that submitted by real life customers.
The investigation by the Italian competition authority is in addition to a further inquiry into deal fixing.
A practice that has allegedly seen hotels prevented from listing their best deals, Booking.com and Expedia are the subject of the case.