How fake reviews can harm your travel business

Are you considering buying hundreds of fake reviews to bump up your star rating and give your travel brand a quick, artificial boost?

Sounds like a great idea! Right? Wrong!

The industry is facing its toughest year in a long time, but quick fixes like fake reviews are not the answer. Here's how fake reviews can harm your business...

Fake reviews are illegal

Make no mistake, fake reviews are 100% illegal and could land your travel company in serious hot water. It may sound like we’re being dramatic, but advertising any false information (i.e. fake reviews) that influences a traveller’s purchasing decision is fraud.

There are fraud prevention teams who are dedicated to tracking down fake reviews and even review platforms themselves have started banning advertisements and partnerships with travel companies who buy and display fake reviews.

If you want to avoid serious consequences, it’s best to leave fake reviews well alone!

Another thing to note here is the importance of disclosure. If you’re working with influencers or offering a discount in exchange for a review, you must disclose this information on your website and across your social media channels.

Fake reviews damage trust

On top of destroying your travel brand's reputation, fake reviews actually damage something much more serious. Your customer's trust.

Now more than ever, any potential travellers will be more conscious about who they trust when it comes to booking a holiday. If they see a constant stream of over the top, fake reviews from dodgy looking profiles, it will have the exact opposite effect you're looking for.

Consumers are getting savvier and they can spot a fake review a mile off. Especially if it's posted at a random time during the early hours of the morning and littered with spelling mistakes or broken English.

In fact, a recent survey found that 52% of consumers trust a company more if they have negative reviews as well (Capterra) and believe that negative reviews actually make a brand look more authentic.

You could face fines & penalties

While they may have previously turned a blind eye, regulators are now cracking down on companies who use fake reviews as part of their digital marketing strategy. You could face serious penalties, not only financially, but in terms of your ranking on search engine sites.

For example, Google loves organic content and data trends. Their teams are very clever at catching companies who are trying to make it to the top of their ranks under false pretences. If you're caught using fake reviews, they can penalise you by removing you from relevant search terms. This could have devastating effects on your traffic and result in a hefty loss of revenue.

Not worth it if you ask us!

What can I do instead?

Rather than risk everything with fake reviews, here are some genuine ways you can boost your travel brand reputation and bottom line...

Ask for a review

According to similar research mentioned above, 77% of people are actually willing to leave a review if they're asked (Podium) - so it seems simple, doesn't it? All you have to do is ask! Have a look at how we can help you automate your travel review process and gain invaluable insights.

Provide excellent customer service

Another fairly obvious point, but always strive to provide your customers with the best experience possible. That way, it's a lot easier to ask them to leave a review, rather than dread any negative feedback.

Respond to negative feedback

It's not the nicest task in the world, but responding to negative feedback shows your company actually cares and it pays off, as others can see this. Check out our handy guide to help you reply to negative reviews.

So just to summarise, fake reviews = BAD, verified reviews from real, happy customers = GOOD! If you have any questions or would like to work with us, get in touch today.

Collette Jones, Social Media & Community Manager

Collette Jones

Social Media & Community Manager

Collette is our Northern Powerhouse for all things content and social media. She’s a secret snacker and loves a good brew, but is a classic tea round dodger so watch out!

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