Now that the Advertising Standards Authority has banned hotel recommendation site TripAdvisor from claiming its reviews as truthful, it's going to be harder than ever to sift out the real from faked. We're here to help. Following last week's Amazon product review scandal, after a months-long scandal involving its faked accommodations assessments,TripAdvisor can no longer call its reviews genuine. As with laudatory Internet product reviews, faux hotel reviews -- both pro and con -- give themselves away.
Beware of too many verbs, adverbs and pronouns. This advice comes from Cornell University researchers, who discovered that genuine reviewers reference the actual hotel, whereas the fakers talked up external experiences and travel companions. For example:
My husband and I stayed at the James Chicago Hotel for our anniversary. This place is fantastic! We knew as soon as we arrived we made the right choice! The rooms are BEAUTIFUL and the staff very attentive and wonderful!! The area of the hotel is great, since I love to shop I couldn’t ask for more!! We will deﬁnatly be back to Chicago and we will for sure be back to the James Chicago.
Unlike someone who had something real to report about the hotel, this person goes on an unrelated tangent because he didn't have an impetus for writing the review.
And, exclamation points. As with product reviews, nobody has that much enthusiasm for a hotel. At least not six exclamation points and an all caps adjective's worth. Also, adverbs like "very" and "really" are warning signs.
And, too many mentions of the hotel. This is what we call overcompensation. Like obvious subliminal marketing, fake reviewers think they are doing a better job if they mention the name of the hotel over and over again.
Too long, too short. Kenny Thai got caught soliciting fake reviews for the Thaison Palace Hanoi (see: below). In it for the free goods, we see two patterns. Short, off the cuff reviews that have no content and novellas. If we were to write a fake review, we wouldn't take too much time, like Ben F. "Great place for students! Great staff! Very friendly. Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends." But then some like to go overboard, like PrincezzP77, who wrote a 15 paragraph long description of her stay. Again, nobody is that crazy about hotels unless there's something in it for them.
Or, just use an algorithm. Based on their findings, those Cornell researchers we mentioned developed a 90 percent accurate algorithm for detecting fake hotel reviews. Easier than sifting through the sham prose.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.