By Catherine Knapp, vice president of content and community, TripAdvisor TripAdvisor was created to give people a voice, allowing them to share opinions and feedback about travel experiences in order to help other travelers have a better trip. However as the business has grown, TripAdvisor itself is occasionally the topic of conversation, and sometimes the focus of the occasional misconception too. As a company founded on the principle of transparency it’s important to us that our community of travellers and businesses have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information. So here – in the first instalment in a series of myth-busting articles – we want to share a few facts behind a couple of misconceptions about TripAdvisor. Myth 1. TripAdvisor doesn’t do anything to catch fake reviews TripAdvisor dedicates a huge amount of resources to protecting the integrity of the content on the site. Every review submitted to TripAdvisor goes through a highly sophisticated tracking system which maps the how, what, where and when of the review, tracking hundreds of electronic attributes to spot patterns of activity, using best practices from a variety of industries including credit card and banking agencies. And we back that up with a team of 300 specialists who work 24/7 to investigate any review that is flagged as suspicious by either our system or our community. Our team also has a number of proactive tactics in their arsenal to catch would-be fraudsters including conducting preemptive investigations. You can see more about how we catch fake reviews here: Myth 2. Businesses have to pay to manage their profile or respond to reviews on TripAdvisor Business owners can register on TripAdvisor for free; this allows them to take advantage of a number of tools and resources. They can manage their profile, reply to reviews, receive notifications when they receive new reviews and encourage new reviews using services like Review Express, all for free. Business owners can also select the main image displayed on their TripAdvisor listing and add a brief property description to help travellers learn more about their business. In addition to these free tools, hotel owners or managers can also opt to drive more bookings from their TripAdvisor profile by participating in instant booking or enhancing their presence on TripAdvisor by subscribing to Business Advantage (formerly known as Business Listings). Myth 3. Business owners can’t ask guests or customers to write reviews. Businesses can ask their guests to write reviews and we encourage it. And we even offer tools that owners can use to encourage guests to write reviews following their stay, like Review Express, which owners can access for free. We also offer links that owners can add to an email, which will send guests directly to their property page on TripAdvisor, cards and flyers that can be printed and handed out to guests, and widgets that can be embedded into a business’s own website to remind travellers to write reviews. Businesses just need to ensure they do not offer any incentives in exchange for reviews, e.g. a free meal or upgrade, and ensure they aren’t only asking for positive reviews, or that they are not cherry picking by encouraging certain guests to write reviews and not others. Myth 4. If a guest writes a review using a hotel or restaurant’s WiFi, TripAdvisor will think it’s a fraudulent review. Our tracking system looks at hundreds of attributes associated with each and every review. This may include where the review was written or what WiFi connection was used; however, simply writing a review using a property’s WiFi isn’t enough on its own to get a review rejected. Our tracking system uses more sophisticated filters to conduct a deeper analysis of each review, so if a traveller writes a review at a restaurant or in a hotel using the property’s WiFi, this alone wouldn’t be considered fraud. Myth 5. Management responses are factored into TripAdvisor’s ranking algorithm – and how fast owners respond to reviews also impacts their Traveller Ranking on the site. This is not the case. A number of factors influence a business’ Traveller Ranking on TripAdvisor, including the quantity, quality and recency of reviews, as well as consistency over time. However, management responses do not impact a business’s ranking on the site. Nonetheless, we encourage business owners to respond to reviews on TripAdvisor in order to share their side of the story and also to demonstrate to other potential guests or visitors that they care about customer feedback. Owners don’t need to reply to every review – they can pick and choose the ones to respond to. Management responses should be written in a professional tone and each response should be tailored to the review the owner is responding to. But it’s worth taking the time as we know from our research that 8 in 10 TripAdvisor users say that seeing hotel management responses to reviews makes them believe that the hotel cares more about their guest.