Trip Advisor Troubles

25th Mar 2013

A while ago we signed up for a Trip Advisor account.  Prior to that we had asked customers to write a review of their course and send it through to us so we could add it to the website.  A lot of other sites use a similar system but we weren't happy with it.  We've visited sites and seen the long list of fantastic reviews but there are never any negative ones.  How can we be sure if they are screening out the negative ones...or are they genuine at all?
Trip Advisor seemed a far better option to us because course participants can write whatever they like.  It's not, I have to say, very easy to get clients to leave feedback and we completely understand.  Everyone is so busy nowadays.  But over the last 18 months 64 clients had kindly left stunning feedback.  However, a few weeks ago a client contacted us to say he had noticed that some reviews had disappeared.  Suddenly 64 had become 52.  He wasn't very happy about it because it included one of his.  We had never had any notification from Trip Advisor that this was going to happen and we didn't know why.  All of the reviews had been accepted by Trip Advisor and some had been live on the site for months.
The next day I phoned Trip Advisor to find out why the review count had dropped.  It was the first of 2 calls and I didn't get far.  The reviews, I was told curtly, were the 'property' of the person who had written them and they were the only ones who could get information about them.  I spoke to the client who had let us know and it turned out he had already been in touch with them and was refused any information apart from being told they broke posting guidelines.
It was, as you could imagine, pretty frustrating.  If there was a problem how could it be fixed if we didn't know what it was.  I phoned Trip Advisor again.  Same deal.  I felt like I was a naughty child - especially the way that particular Trip Advisor employee spoke to me!  In the end I turned to Twitter.  A few tweets about the problem and someone from Trip Advisor UK tweeted back that someone would be in touch.  Eventually, a few emails later and it turned out that with a 'Tour' listing Trip Advisor only accepts reviews for tours of one day or less.  
This is useless to us as most of our courses are longer than that.  I'm not much further on with finding a solution yet but I just wanted to share the latest news on the situation.  I'm still very frustrated by the experience.  I realise that, in the scheme of things, Trip Advisor would see Peak Mountaineering as small fry.  But Trip Advisor needs the small fries just like it needs the larger fish.  And even the small fry should be treated with respect.
So, if you took the time to write a review, it was accepted by Trip Advisor, then subsequently removed, my sincere apologies.  If you wrote a review and they didn't accept it (I have heard from several clients who had this happen), my sincere apologies.
It seems unlikely Trip Advisor are going to be able (or bothered) to offer us a solution as their system seems to have no flexibility.  They know I am unhappy but no one has been in touch except to answer my emails.  Why tour operators can't be reviewed for multi day tours is beyond me.  Why Trip Advisor couldn't be bothered to let us know there was a problem is beyond me.  Why their staff were so rude on the phone is beyond me and why our clients questions weren't even answered is beyond me (they do, after all, apparently 'own' the reviews!).
Please bear with us.  We'll find a solution but it looks likely we'll have to start from scratch with another review site which is very frustrating.  In the meantime, if you had plans to write a review please hold off until we have decided on the way forward.
Come on Trip Advisor.  Shame on you!
Posted by Paul